In Fall 2006, America Reads Spanish launched an on-line survey addressed to librarians in charge of Latin American collections in public, academic and research libraries in the United States of America, so that, in their capacity as experts, they would suggest works germane to the creation of a bibliographic Hispanic database which was initially thought would comprise 500 titles. The works would refer to Spanish letters, language and literatures: fiction, poetry, theater, essays, reference works and children’s literature.
Booksellers, writers, professors, editors and journalists also answered this call, and helped to significantly enrich the final results. In March 2007, the compilation of materials was closed with nearly one thousand suggested works. From those recommendations, 500 works, as originally foreseen, were selected for inclusion in the Guide.
The open, one might say, choral, nature of this bibliography stems from its own genesis; this is not simply a conventional determination of a canon, rather its value and its richness reside in the fact that the recommended works have been previously read, consulted and used by the professionals who suggested them and who so aver.
The procedure for obtaining the titles in this Guide was undoubtedly a risky propostion; precedence was given to free participation over the normative pyramidal process involving literary editors, the distribution of areas of expertise, etc., knowing all the while of the possible disparity in authors, themes, eras and geographic areas which might thus obtain.
The final result presented now demonstrates that it was worth assuming that risk. The Guide is a rich and plural, distinctive bibliography, and while many of the names listed therein are found in the canons of the most representative works of our literatures, in other instances one will find lesser known or forgotten authors and works, but which nonetheless are of equal import and interest.