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“We’re only the fifth Latino-focused bookshop in the nation,” says co-founder Tony Diaz.

Image: Joseph West

Inside Talento Bilingüe de Houston, the cultural center and theater in the Second Ward, lies a recently opened enterprise that’s not only rare in the Bayou City, but in the United States: Nuestra Palabra Arts & Books, a Latino book and art store.

“We’re only the fifth Latino-focused bookshop in the nation,” says Tony Diaz, co-founder of the store and founder of local literary group Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say. “It’s exciting that Houston can support it.”

Opened late last December, the shop isn’t trying to compete with big-box retailers. Instead, it’s a cultural hub that, in addition to offering around 500 curated books and artworks, hosts speakers and programs. “We take for granted how much cultural capital Houston has,” says Diaz. “The bookstore can attest to the growing literary demand in our diverse city.”

Interested, but don’t know where to start? Diaz shares some of his favorite offerings below.

5 to Try: Diaz's Picks

Fuego

By Leslie Contreras-Schwartz

“Leslie is not just a brilliant poet, as seen in Fuego, but she is a part of the Nuestra Palabra familia, having read from her early works for the first time on our stage in 1999, as well as being a part of the Nuestra Palabra MFA initiative.”

Nahualliandoing Dos: An Anthology of Poetry in Nahuatl, Español and English

Edited by Juan Tejeda and Anisa Onofre

“When someone drops Spanglish to impress you, one-up them by mentioning this anthology that is trilingual, featuring works in English, Spanish and Nahuatl—the language originally spoken by the Mexica, now known as the Aztecs.”

Aztec Calendar Coloring Book

Edited by Juan Tejeda and Anisa Onofre

“This is a great way for folks to learn more about the symbols on the Aztec calendar and for young people to learn about the figures that cover what is arguably one of the greatest works of art on the continent—the Aztec Sun Stone.”

Hecho en Tejas: An Anthology of Texas Mexican Literature

Edited by Dagoberto Gilb

“This anthology is a great introduction to Mexican-American literature with a Texas perspective, including Tejas giants like The House on Mango Street author Sandra Cisneros and musicians such as pop artist Selena and rapper Chingo Bling.”

Huizache Magazine

Published by Dagoberto Gilb

“We also carry the latest issues of Dagoberto Gilb’s Latino literary magazine, Huizache, which features rising stars of Chicano and Latino literature, as well as art and photographs.”

Nuestra Palabra Arts & Books is located at 333 S. Jensen inside Talento Bilingüe de Houston, open from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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