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Songs As Soundtracks To The Story Of Latin Life

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I recently started a habit of listening to new music for Alt.Latino while reading. I'm on a new book called An Anthology Of Latin American Chronicles, a compilation of the best long-form journalistic pieces from contemporary Latin America. It's all non-fiction, yet as fantastical as you can get.

These days, reading about a trip to Pablo Escobar's secret zoo, the third gender among the Oaxacan people, or the unusual trajectory of a family heirloom during the Chilean dictatorship is accompanied by songs blasting in my ear. So I've made a point of picking music that softly transports me into this everyday world of Latin American beauty and horror, glory and pathos.

In the process, something wonderful happened: The text and the lyrics have begun to fuse together, and the stories I read have soft, cinematic, very Latin soundtracks. I've come to appreciate more than ever the storytelling legacy of Latinos, and how our music as much as our writing tells those stories. I'm sharing some of those songs on this week's show, which also features a broad and beautiful selection of Felix's favorite new music.

So join us on Alt.Latino as we listen to everyone from a Mexican legend to a French-Cuban duo that has us mesmerized. And, as a side note, if you're interested in reading An Anthology Of Latin American Chronicles yourself, I highly recommend it. If you don't speak Spanish, there doesn't seem to be a translation, but many of the authors featured in the anthology have works in English. You can find the list here.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit

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