Popular Latina Fiction and Americanization in the Twenty-First Century
This study illuminates how discourses of Americanization, ethnicity, gender, class, and especially commodification shape the genre of “chica lit,” that is, chick lit written by Latina authors with Latina characters. Chica lit is produced and marketed in the same ways as contemporary romance and chick lit fiction, and aimed at an audience of twenty- to thirty-something, upwardly mobile Latina readers. Tace Hedrick argues that Its stories about young women’s ethnic class mobility and gendered romantic success tends to celebrate twenty-first century neoliberal narratives about Americanization, hard work, and individual success. However, its focus on Latina characters necessarily inflects this celebratory mode: the elusiveness of what chica lit means when it used the actual term “Latina” tends to homogenize the differences among and between Hispanophone heritage peoples in the United States.
Of necessity, chica lit also struggles with questions about the actual social and economic “place” of Latinas and Chicanas in this same neoliberal landscape; these questions unsettle its reliance on the tried-and-true formulas of chick lit and romance writing. Looking at chica lit’s market-driven representations of difference, poverty, and Americanization show how this particular popular women’s fiction functions within the larger arena of struggles over the representation of Latinas and Chicanos in the United States.