Latinos in the United States should feel proud of their Spanish language and their identity because it allows them to maintain contact with one of the world's greatest literary traditions, prizewinning Colombian writer Santiago Gamboa told Efe.

He added that keeping their command of the language alive enables them to enjoy works by such Latin American writers as Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Luis Borges "and looking back, with the Spaniards Miguel de Cervantes and Francisco de Quevedo."

"For Latinos in the United States, it's important to realize that the Spanish language and their identity should be a source of pride - it keeps them in contact with one of the best of all literary traditions," said Gamboa at the Festival of the Word in New York, which has gathered together some 34 writers from Latin America and Spain.

Gamboa, whose latest novel "Necropolis" is now being translated into English, also said that the Festival of the Word "serves as a reminder that Spanish is a springboard to other languages."

The Colombian, a sometime-journalist who published nine works between 1995 and 2009, spoke of the riches that a writer enjoys by living outside his own country.

"For writers, travel is very important, very enriching to learn about other cultures, to be anonymous, to get involved with other languages and customs," Gamboa, who has lived 26 years outside Colombia but visits his country frequently, said.

He said that taking part in the festival has given him the chance to meet writers like Puerto Rico's Charlie Vazquez and get reacquainted with old friends including Cuba's Jose Manuel Prieto, "one of the most talented and important authors of my generation."

"This has been an extraordinary initiative on the part of writer Mayra Santos," he said about the Puerto Rican author who organized the event, which began last year in San Juan and this year expanded to include sessions in both that city and New York.