Spanish professor pens bilingual book of short stories about Hispanic identity

GOSHEN, Ind. — There are more than 35 million people who identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino on the 2000 U.S. Census. One of them is Goshen College Professor of Spanish Rafael Falcón.

In time for Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15), Falcón has written a bilingual collection of fiction short stories, “Mi Gente: In Search of the Hispanic Soul” (Cursack Books, 2008).

“I am writing for Hispanics, for people with contact with the Hispanic world or for people who want to learn about the struggles of identity,” Falcón said.

The book offers stories from the perspective of a Puerto Rican who long ago left home, but remembers clearly the experiences, smells and flavors of the island. “He recounts a universal yet very personal quest, as old as that of Odysseus: the expatriate’s search for meaning

and family in the land which gave him life,” wrote Goshen College Professor Emeritus of French and the Humanities Judith Davis in the book’s forward.

“As you grow older, you start analyzing more about your roots and who you are,” Falcón said.

By writing about the stages of the exile’s journey in touching and amusing anecdotes, Falcón reminds readers that “all of us are immigrants to this country, and all of us have roots in another place and time,” Davis added. “Many, if not all of us, also feel, at some time in our lives, the urge to connect with our families and countries of origin.”

Falcón was born in Aibonito, Puerto Rico, and has taught Spanish at Goshen College since 1979. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Iowa. And he has published studies of literary criticism in scholarly journals from Mexico, Honduras, Spain,

Peru and the United States.

Falcón previously wrote the book “Salsa: A Taste of Hispanic Culture” (Praeger Publishers, 1998), which offered his first collection of memories and reflections on Hispanic life. He is also the author of “101 Spanish Riddles: Understanding Spanish Language and

Culture Through Humor” (McGraw-Hill, 2001). “Mi Gente” is Falcón’s first book written in both Spanish and English.

There will be a reading by the author and a book signing at Goshen College on October 11, at 6 p.m. in Newcomer Center Room 19. The event will include refreshments, a short program and music.

Jodi H. Beyeler