Category Archives: Movies

In the news: March roars with new books by Cepeda, Espinoza, Brown, Engle and Medina

March is coming in like a lion, with lots of new releases:

TheyCallMeAHeroAlready out: Daniel Hernandez Jr. is known as the intern who helped save former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s life when she was shot at a public event in 2011. His book, They Call Me A Hero: A Memoir of My Youth, focuses on his growing up gay and Hispanic. He talked about the book on CNN and to Publishers Weekly.

TitoPuenteMamboKingMarch 5: Tito Puente Mambo King/Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo, written by Monica Brown and illustrated by Rafael López, introduces the musician to children. They talked about the book here. In Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina, journalist Raquel Cepeda investigates her Dominican family’s ancestry.

Diego LeonMarch 19: In Alex Espinoza’s The Five Acts of Diego León: A Novel, a Mexican peasant goes to Hollywood to pursue a career in the movies. The life of poet Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, who fought against slavery in Cuba as a teenager, is depicted in the children’s book The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist by Margarita Engle.

YaquiDelgadoMarch 26: In Meg Medina’s young adult novel, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, a teenager finds out she is being bullied by someone she doesn’t even know.

HotelJuarezMarch 31: Arte Publico is publishing several books:  Hotel Juarez: Stories, Room and Loops by Daniel Chacon, Desperado: A Mile High Noir by Manuel Ramos and Our Lost Border: Essays on Life Amid the Narco-Violence edited by Sergio Troncoso and Sarah Cortez.

Awards:

Guadalupe Garcia McCall was nominated for the Nebula Award’s Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy – given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America –for her novel Summer of the Mariposas.

Rigoberto González received the Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers Award for his work toward his peers.

Book Festivals:

• The Tucson Festival of Books takes place March 9-10 and will feature Diana Gabaldon, Guadalupe García McCall, Reyna Grande, Daniel Hernandez, Juan Felipe Herrera, Lizz Huerta, Ruben Martinez, Matt Mendez, Santino J. Rivera, Gloria Velasquez and Luis Alberto Urrea.

Other news:

The movie version of Bless Me Ultima is out in theaters. Author Rudolfo Anaya talked to NBC Latino about seeing his book hit the silver screen. Here’s a great review from noted film critic Roger Ebert.

Benjamin Alire Sáenz, who recently won three awards from the American Library Association Youth Media Awards for his 2012 book Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, talked to the School Library Journal.

• A memoir from singer Jenni Rivera, who died in a plane crash last year, is expected to be released in July, according to the Associated Press.

• The Omaha World-Herald profiled Joy Castro, author of Hell or High Water.

• Here’s an interesting New York Times article about Cuban-American playwright María Irene Fornés, the Obie-award winning author of 42 plays, who has Alzheimer’s disease and whose friends are campaigning to move her to New York City so they can visit her.

• The remains of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda will be exhumed to determine if he died of cancer or was poisoned by followers of dictator Augusto Pinochet, according to the BBC.

• NPR had a great story on the Oscar-nominated film, No, which covers the advertising campaign to vote out Pinochet. The movie, starring Gabriel Garcia Bernal, is based on a play by Antonio Skarmeta, author of Il Postino.

• Can’t get enough of Richard Blanco, the Cuban-American poet who read his poem, “One Today,” at President Obama’s inauguration? Here’s a story from NPR.

• PBS’ Need to Know presented a report on Arizona’s ban on ethnic studies.

Denise Chavez, author of Loving Pedro Infante, is using Kickstarter to raise money for an anthology on border literature and artwork.

• The Makers website profiled Sandra Cisneros.

• Fox News Latino reported on the rise of Latino comic book characters.

• Mexican-American artists Tony Preciado and Rhode Montijo have created a book, Super Grammar, to teach students grammar, according to NBC Latino.

Junot Díaz is scheduled to appear on The Colbert Report March 25.

Also this month:

• Three Nobel Prize winners – Gabriel Gárcia Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa and the late Octavio Paz – celebrate birthdays in March.

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Filed under 2013 Books, Awards, Events, Movies, News

In the news: New books by Cisneros; book festivals; and tons of links about Junot Díaz

(Note: This post was updated to include the Junot Díaz award from the MacArthur Foundation.)

It’s October, and that means news books, book festival season and Dias de los Muertos. Find out more below:

Already out: Sesame Street actress Sonia Manzano’s young adult novel The Revolution of Everlyn Serrano depicts a Puerto Rican teen growing up in Spanish Harlem in the turbulent 1960s. Manzano talked to the TBD website about the book.

• Oct. 1: Guadalupe García McCall, author of the Pura Belpre winning book Under the Mesquite, releases Summer of the Mariposas, a retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey through the eyes of five sisters.

Oct. 2: Sandra Cisneros writes about her missing cat in the illustrated book, Have You Seen Marie?

Oct. 9: In the young adult novel A Thunderous Whisper by Christina Díaz Gonzalez, a 12-year-old girl is caught up in spying during the Spanish Civil War.

Oct. 16: Benjamin Alire Saenz releases a collection of short stories, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club. In The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira by Cesar Aira, a doctor discovers he has superhuman powers.

Junot Díaz alert:

Junot Díaz was awarded the prestigious MacArthur “Genius Award” on Oct. 1. The honor is given by the MacArthur Foundation to outstanding individuals in the arts, humanities and sciences.

Need a Junot Díaz fix? Lots of people do since his collection of short stories, This Is How You Lose Her, was released last month. Nearly a thousand fans crammed into a New York City Barnes and Noble, causing a near riot, according to the ColorLines website. He chatted with The New York Times Magazine’s recent “Inspiration” issue about what has influenced his writing, and a nice slideshow is included. He talked about the main character’s game to NPR; his Dominican background to NBC Latino; genre fiction to Capital New York; and the perceived sexism in his book to The Atlantic. He also went bar-hopping with Grantland. But wait, here’s more articles from Latina magazine, the NPR radio show Latino USA, Huffington Post, the Good Reads website and CNN. Here’s some podcasts from The New York Timesand the Brooklyn Vol. 1 website, where Díaz discusses his passion for comic books. He talked about his love for the Hernandez brothers (of Love and Rockets fame) to the NPR radio program Latino USA. Still can’t get enough of Díaz? Check out his Facebook feed or the new fan website, Junot Díaz Daily.

Book Festivals:

Oct. 1-6: The San Diego City College Int’l Book Fair will include Reyna Grande (left), Gustavo Arellano, Rudy Acuña, Matt de la Peña and Herbert Sigüenza.

Oct. 13 – The Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival will feature Victor Villaseñor and Luis J. Rodriguez.

Oct. 27: The Boston Book Festival will feature Junot Díaz and Justin Torres, right.

Oct. 27-28: The Texas Book Festival in Austin will feature Gustavo Arellano, Nora de Hoyos Comstock, Junot Díaz, Reyna Grande, Diana López, Domingo Martinez, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, René Saldaña Jr., Esmeralda Santiago, Ilan Stavans, Duncan Tonatiuh, Juan Pablo Villalobos, Ray Villareal and Gwendolyn Zepeda.

Literary magazines:

Aztlan Libre Press has released the book Nahualliandoing Dos: An Anthology of Poetry, which was influenced by Cecilio Garcia-Camarillo, Caracol and Nahualliandoing.

• Here’s an interesting article from Ploughshares literary magazine from Jennifer De Leon (no relation) about whether to italicize foreign phrases in literary works, with a mention of Junot Díaz (him again!).

Events:

• Las Comadres Para Las Americas will host a writer’s workshop Oct. 6 in New York City. Speakers include  Sonia Manzano, Lyn DiIorio, and Caridad Pineiro.

• The Festival de la Palabra, which includes discussions and readings from from Rosa Beltrán, Ángel Antonio Ruiz Laboy and Charlie Vásquez, takes place Oct. 9-11 in New York City.

Other news:

• The Southern California public radio station KPCC covered a reading of Ban This! The BSP Anthology of Chicano Literature, written in response to the state of Arizona’s ban on ethnic studies.

• Poet Lupe Mendez was named one of the Houston Press’s top 100 creative people.

Héctor Tobar’s 2011 novel The Barbarian Nurseries may be adapted into a movie, according to ComingSoon.net.

• The film version of Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima premiered in El Paso, according to the El Paso Times.

• A new film based on Juan Gonzalez’s Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America is being released.

Justin Torres, author of 2011′s We the Animals, was named to the National Book Founationa’s 5 under 35 list of emerging authors.

Also this month:

• Celebrating birthdays this month: Nobel Prize winner Miguel Angel Asturias, right, on Oct. 19.

• The Nobel Prizes will be announced this month, and Book Riot has its predictions. (It’s not likely a Latino or an American will win this year.) Here’s a look at Latinos who’ve won the award.

• Looking for some books for Dias de los Muertos? Here’s The Hispanic Reader’s round-up from last year.

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Filed under 2012 Books, Events, Fiction, Movies, News, Non-Fiction, Young Adult Books

Happy birthday, Luis Valdez!

Luis Valdez was born June 26 in 1940. He is regarded as the father of Latino theater and the playwright of perhaps the most famous Latino play of all time – Zoot Suit.

A former migrant worker, the California-raised Valdez was inspired to go into theater after a teacher cast him in a school play, according to the San Jose Mercury News. He didn’t perform in the production, but the experience led him to study drama at San Jose State University.

In the 1960s, he marched with United Farm Workers leader César Chávez. He founded El Teatro Campesino – with shows performed on flatbed trucks and union halls during the Delano Grape Strike.

The company later moved to San Juan Bautista, Calif. In 1977, the theater performed Zoot Suit, which was inspired by the 1940s riots in Los Angeles. The play was a smash – going on to Broadway in 1979 and becoming a movie, which Valdez directed, in 1981.

Valdez also directed the 1987 movie La Bamba, about music great Ritchie Valens. His theater company continues to produce plays today. He recently talked about his career in this radio interview.

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Love, Latino-style: Books and movies for Valentine’s Day

Depending on your point of view, Valentine’s Day is either one of the best or worst holidays of the year. But no matter what your point of view, this is a good time to look at some of the greatest love stories in Latino literature.

For the hopeless romantic:

In Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera – young Florentino Ariza loves Fermina Daza from the moment he sees her – and keeps loving her even when she marries another man. This classic book was made into a 2007 movie staring Javier Bardem and Benjamin Bratt.

For the food lover:

Tita’s emotions can be felt in the food she is making in Laura Esquivel’s 1989 Like Water for Chocolate ­– and her emotions are intense when her sister marries the man she loves. The best-selling novel, made into a 1992 movie, includes recipes for the meals.

For a good cry:

Francisco Goldman’s 2011 Say Her Name tells the story of Goldman’s relationship with his wife, Aura Estrada, who died in a swimming accident. His love for her is so palpable that your heart will break along with his.

For the poetry fan:

If you prefer poetry, you can’t more romantic than Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda’s Love Poems. This book inspired the 1994 Academy Award-nominated movie Il Postino, in which Neruda appears as a character who helps a postal carrier woo the woman he loves. 

For the movie lover:

The 2011 film Chico and Rita features the romance between a Cuban pianist and singer in the 1940s. NPR talked to co-director Fernando Trueba about the film, which is up for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.

Do you know of any other great Latino love stories that should be included here? Post them in the comments.

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‘Tis the Season: Christmas books for adults

‘Tis the season for family gatherings, holiday parties and competitive shopping. If you prefer to celebrate Christmas with some good page turner, here are some Latino-themed books:

• Alisa Valdes’ 2010 book The Three Kings is a “Christmas dating story” about one woman’s quest to find love during the holiday season.

• In Pulitzer Prize-winner Oscar Hijuelos’s 1995 novel, Mr. Ives’ Christmas, a man struggles with life and his belief in God after his son is murdered on Christmas. PBS’s Ray Suarez gave a review of the book to NPR, which includes an excerpt.

• Twenty-five Latino authors, including Junot Diaz and Esmeralda Santiago, share their favorite holiday stories and recipes in the 1999 book, Las Christmas: Favorite Latino Authors Share Their Holiday Memories.

• In the 2007 book Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan, Manny DeLeón has to close down the Red Lobster he manages in New Britain, Connecticut, as a blizzard comes down four nights before Christmas. O’Nan talked about writing about a Latino character and gives a shout-out to Luis Alberto Urrea here.

And if you’re in more of a movie mood, Nothing Like the Holidays depicts a dysfunctional Puerto Rican family celebrating the holidays. The 2008 movie stars John Leguizamo, Freddy Rodríguez, Elizabeth Peña and Alfred Molina. I’m partial to the 2003 movie Love Actually, which has a mostly British cast but features Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro and Portuguese actress Lúcia Moniz.

Coming up on Thursday: Christmas books for children.

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On the silver screen

Latino writers are seeing their words on the big screen as two Hispanic-oriented film festivals open this month.

• Seven culturally diverse movies will be featured in the Maya Indie Film series. The movies include Without Men, about an all-female society, staring Eva Longoria and Oscar Nunez (from The Office). The movie was written and directed by Argentenian Gabriela Tagliavini and based upon the book Tales from the Towns of Widows by Colombian James Canon. The festival will run from Friday, Sept. 9 to Thursday, Sept. 15 in Chicago; Sept. 16-22 in Dallas and Miami and Sept. 23 in San Francisco.

• The Cinesol Film Festival will present a variety of Latino-oriented movies, as well as panels and seminars, from Saturday, Sept. 10 to Sept. 23 in Edinburg and Harlingen, Texas. Machete co-screenwriter Alvaro Rodriguez and film scholar Rogelio Agrasanchez Jr. will discuss “The Golden Age in Mexican Film” Sept. 17. Agrasanchez will also speak Sunday, Sept. 11, at the Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg for the kickoff of the yearlong exhibit, “La Epoca de Oro: The Golden Age of Mexican Cinema in the Rio Grande Valley,” which features trailers, posters and other memorabilia.

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Meet Screenwriter Alvaro Rodriguez

Alvaro Rodriguez is the pen behind a border-set exploitation film, a frenetic kids’ movie and a vampire western, among others.

Rodriguez co-wrote the screenplay for this year’s hit movie, Machete, as well as 2009’s Shorts, and 1999’s From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter. An avid movie buff, he is also presenting classic Mexican movies at film festivals this fall in the Rio Grande Valley, where he grew up and now lives.

Rodriguez, a University of Texas at Austin graduate, worked as a newspaper reporter before embarking on his screenwriting career. He is a cousin of Robert Rodriguez, who directed El Mariachi, Grindhouse, and Spy Kids.

Q: How has the success of Machete and other Rodriguez films helped other Hispanics? Will this encourage Hollywood to look at more Hispanic screenwriters?

A: Machete was a moderate success — it certainly created a buzz and looks to spawn a sequel or two, so that’s a positive thing. I’m hopeful that it will encourage more Latino-driven movies to be made, and frankly, they’re out there and they’re coming soon. I don’t attribute that to Machete itself, but to the time being right for more Latino-themed stories and Latino storytellers getting recognition and making films. I think you also have to acknowledge the success of the Spy Kids series of films that Robert wrote and directed as something that opened doors and made entry seem possible.

Q: What can be done to encourage more Hispanic screenwriters?

A: The most encouraging thing for young Hispanic writers and screenwriters out there right now is knowing that a market exists for their work and it is the mainstream. Look at the films we’ve had this year — everything from Lionsgate’s No Eres Tu, Soy Yo to Chris Weisz’s A Better Life, not to mention the success of shows like Modern Family. There is a market for these stories out there, and there are new voices coming to the table all the time. It’s important, too, to tell a good story. “Write what you know” isn’t physical advice but emotional — tell a story with a deeper sense of your own personality and voice.

Q: What Hispanic authors/books have inspired/influenced you?

A: I appreciate stories that are tapestries, labyrinths and sometimes seemingly simple tales that hide a deeper truth, everything from Jorge Luis Borges to Dagoberto Gilb, from Juan Rulfo to Oscar Casares. I recently read a book of bilingual short stories written by David Bowles and Angelica Maldonado, The Seed (Absey and Co, 2011), which was very rich and personal. I’m editing a book of border-set “noir” stories to be published by Valley Artistic Outreach in 2012. Also, I’m presenting a classic Mexican film from the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema in September at the Cinesol Film Festival and at the Museum of South Texas History in October — another rich vein of fascinating material from which to gain inspiration and insight. Hispanic writers can gain so much by looking south of the border to the art and literature of Mexico and beyond. The issues and ideas those writers and filmmakers are exploring have so many correlations to what we experience and what inspires us today.

 

 

 

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