Tag Archives: Alisa Valdes

In the News: New releases from Zepeda, Garcia and Alarcón

October has arrived, and cooler temperatures mean a better excuse to curl up with a good book. Here’s what going on in the world of Latino literature:

FallinginLovewithPrisonersBook releases:

• Already out: Gwendolyn Zepeda’s newest book is a collection of poetry, Falling in Love with Fellow Prisoners, that details her life in the city. In the children’s book Parrots Over Puerto Rico, authors Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore connect the bird with the island’s history.

Kami Garcia/UnbreakableOct. 1: Kami Garcia’s Unbreakable, which is aimed at readers ages 12 and older, features a young girl who is haunted by paranormal activity.

Oct. 3: Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography finds Richard Rodriguez exploring the role of religion in the world.

Maximilian&theBingoRematchOct. 22: Xavier Garza’s newest children’s book is Maximilian & the Bingo Rematch: A Lucha Libre Sequel (Max’s Lucha Libre Adventures), in which a sixth-grader faces several challenges in life and love.

• Oct. 31: In Daniel Alarcón’s At Night We Walk in Circles, a young man touring with a political acting troupe finds himself caught up in his own personal drama.

Literary magazines:

The third edition of Huizache, the literary magazine produced by the University of Houston-Victoria’s Center for Mexican American Literature and Culture, comes out Oct. 15. The issue will include works by Cristina García, Juan Felipe Herrera, Domingo Martinez and Héctor Tobar. The $15 issue can be ordered online.

Book Festivals:

Oct. 5: Librofest in Houston features Sarah Cortez, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Manuel Ramos, René Saldaña Jr. and Gwendolyn Zepeda.

Oct. 26-27: The Texas Book Festival in Austin includes Monica Brown, Alfredo Corchado, Matt de la Peña, Cristina García, Kami Garcia, Xavier Garza, Manuel Gonzales, Duncan Tonatiuh and Mario Alberto Zambrano.

Writing contests:

The National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies—Tejas Foco is sponsoring two contests for writers who have published fiction in 2013 that relate to the Mexican American experience in Texas. Deadline is Dec. 3.

• The new Angela Johnson Scholarship from the Vermont College of Fine Arts will offer $5,000 to writers of color pursuing the school’s master’s degree in Writing for Children & Young Adults.

Alvaro MutisOther features:

Colombian writer Alvaro Mutis, left, the winner of the Cervantes Prize, passed away last month at age 90. Here’s his obituary from the Associated Press, via the Huffington Post; a remembrance from The Guardian; and an 2001 interview with Francisco Goldman from the Bombsite website.

MananaMeansHeaven• Poet and artist Jose Montoya, a former poet laureate for the city of Sacramento, passed away last month at age 81. The Modesto Bee had a obituary, while the Sacramento Bee featured a photo gallery and an editorial.

• The Los Angeles Times ran an obituary for Bea Franco, the woman who inspired “The Mexican Girl” character in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and the new Tim Z. Hernandez novel Mañana Means Heaven.

MayasNotebookIsabel Allende, whose most recent novel is Maya’s Notebook, talked to The Guardian about her family and her past.

• NBC Latino profiled Monica Brown, author of Marisol Mcdonald and the Clash Bash/Marisol Mcdonald Y La Fiesta Sin Igual.

ThisIsHowYouLoseHerJunot Díaz, whose latest book This is How You Lose Her comes out Oct. 31 in a paperback deluxe edition with illustrations by Jaime Hernandez, has been featured in the Associated Press, Esquire and Salon. He also spoke to NBC Cafecito about his work with Freedom University for undocumented students.

Alisa ValdesPoet and novelist Gary Soto wrote  in the Huffington Post about why he stopped writing children’s stories.

• Novelist Alisa Valdes, left, gave her views on contemporary Latino lit to NBC Latino.

Juan Pablo Villalobos, author of Down the Rabbit Hole, was featured in the latest Granta podcast.

Mario Alberto Zambrano discussed his book Lotería to the Village Voice.

DreaminginCuban• The Cristina García novel Dreaming in Cuban was banned by an Arizona school, according to the Colorlines website. Meg Medina faced problems at one school with her book, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass.

• Here’s a cool way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, which ends Oct. 15 — this literary flow chart from ebook publisher Open Road Media shows great Latino literature selections.

• Publishing Perspectives examined how ebooks were affecting libraries in the Spanish-speaking countries.

Also this month:

• Looking for books for Halloween? Check out these scary stories for children and these thrillers for adults.

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Happy Independence Day, United States of America!

On July 4, 1776, the United States of America declared themselves free from Great Britain. Thanks to its diverse population, the United States is one of the world’s great superpowers. And, by 2050, some scholars project it will boast the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world. Here’s a look, by region, at some of America’s great Latino writers.

LuisValdezCalifornia: Luiz Valdez, right, the father of Latino theater and playwright of “Zoot Suit,” began presenting plays during the Delano farmworkers strike. The plight of farmworkers in California have been the subject of books by Helena María Viramontes and Pam Muñoz Ryan. Other Californians include Gustavo Arellano, Margarita Engle, Alex Espinoza, Reyna Grande, Gilbert Hernandez, Lorraine López, Luis J. Rodriguez, Michele Serros, Gary Soto, Héctor Tobar and Victor Villaseñor.

Rudulfo AnayaNew Mexico: Native son Rudolfo Anaya, left, considered the father of Chicano literature, has set his novels, including his beloved Bless Me Ultima and Sonny Baca mysteries, in this state. The state also served as the setting for novels by Ana Castillo, Denise Chávez and Alisa Valdes.

esmeralda_santiago_163x179_1Puerto Rico: The Caribbean island joined the United States in 1898. Esmeralda Santiago, right, wrote about her personal history in When I Was Puerto Rican and the island’s history in the novel Conquistadora. Other authors of Puerto Rican heritage include Lyn DiIorio, Sarah McCoy, Piri Thomas, Justin Torres and Willliam Carlos Williams.

Rolando HinojosaTexas: Life on the border has served as fodder for books by Rolando Hinojosa,  left, of the Rio Grande Valley, and Sergio Troncoso of El Paso. Sandra Cisneros, originally from Chicago, set her books Woman Hollering Creek and Have You Seen Marie? in this state. Other Tejanos include Dagoberto Gilb, Manuel Gonzales, Diana López and Gwendolyn Zepeda.

JunotDiazThe country’s most prestigious literary award, the Pulitzer Prize, has been given to Cuban-American Oscar Hijuelos and Dominican-American Junot Díaz, right, in the fiction category; Cuban-American Nilo Cruz and Quiara Alegría Hudes, who is of Puerto Rican descent, in drama; and numerous journalists. Eduardo Lalo won the 2013 International Rómulo Gallegos Prize for Fiction, becoming the first American to win one of Latin America’s most prestigious literary awards. The Pura Belpré Award, given by the American Library Association, honors books written for young readers.

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In the news: July brings books from López, Alfieri and Castro

It’s July and it’s getting hot out there! Here’s a look at new releases and other news to keep you cool:

AskMyMoodRingHowIFeel• Already out: Diana López, author of Choke, has a new book for young readers, Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel, about a young girl coping with her mother’s cancer.

• In Blood Tango by Annamaria Alfieri, the Argentine police is looking for a killer who may have wanted to murder Eva Peron.

House of Impossible Loves• A Spanish family faces a curse in which the women suffer doomed loved affairs in Cristina Lopez Barrio’s The House of Impossible Loves.

• Marta Acosta, author of the Casa Dracula books, has written the novel The She-Hulk Diaries, about the female Incredible Hulk.

Crossing-Over• Rubén Martínez’s Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail, which follows a family that immigrates from Mexico to America, has been reissued with a new afterword. His book Desert America: A Journey Through Our Most Divided Landscape, which explores the changes in the American West, is now out in paperback.

LoteriaJuly 9: In Lotería: A Novel, Mario Alberto Zambrano uses a piece of Mexican culture to convey the story of one family’s tragedy.

July 16: Reporter Nola Céspedes, who first appeared in Joy Castro’s Hell or High Water, is back in Nearer Home, investigating the murder of her former journalism professor.

Rebozos_jacket-webAwards:

• The 2013 International Latino Book Award winners include Carmen Tafolla’s Rebozos, Leila Cobo’s The Second Time We Met, Pat Mora’s The Beautiful Lady: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Malin Alegria’s Border Town #1: Crossing the Line, Joy Castro’s Island of Bones, the Las Comadres Para Las Americas anthology Count on Me: Tales of Sisterhood and Fierce Friendships and Reyna Grande’s The Distance Between Us.

AristotleDante• Winners of the 25th annual Lambda Literary Awards, according to The Wall Street Journal, include Cherrie Moraga, who received the Pioneer Award, and Benjamin Alire Saenz, who won awards for his books, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

• Puerto Rican Eduardo Lalo won the 2013 International Rómulo Gallegos Prize for Fiction, one of Latin America’s most prestigious literary awards.

Writing conferences:

• The Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference will take place Oct. 5 at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, N.Y. The event will include panelists and one-on-one sessions with agents and editors.

Writing contests:

Lee & Low Books has opened submissions for its New Voices Award, given to an unpublished children’s book written by a writer of color. Deadline is Sept. 1.

Other features:

The new website Latinas for Latino Literature have created a summer reading program for children. NPR focused on the issue of diversity in children’s literature, and Publishers Weekly noted the First Book organization is trying to expand the market with The Stories for All Project.

La Casa Azul Bookstore, the East Harlem, N.Y., bookstore run by Aurora Anaya Cerda that specializes in Latino literature, has had a busy summer. It celebrated its first anniversary in June, was honored by The White House for its crowdfunding efforts and was featured in Fox News Latino.

The latest investigation into the death of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda may have found a potential killer, says ABC News.

Alisa Valdes has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the movie version of her novel The Dirty Girls Social Club.

• Publishing Perspectives profiled El Paso-based Cinco Puntos Press, which publishes books by Benjamin Alire Saenz and Joe Hayes.

• The San Antonio Express-News covered a celebration by Tony Diaz’s Librotraficantes that stopped an anti-ethnic studies bill in the Texas Legislature this spring.

• Some news about Carlos FuentesThe FBI had a dossier on the Mexican novelist, reports the Los Angeles Times, and his books are now available on e-readers, according to Publishers Weekly.

Sandra Cisneros discussed Latinos in entertainment and other topics on NBC Latino’s Cafecito.

Alex Espinoza, author of The Five Acts of Diego Leon, talked to the LA Review of Books.

• NPR profiled children’s singer and author Jose Luis Orozco.

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In the news: New releases by Arana, Rodriguez, García

May brings out plenty of books, ranging from historical biographies and fiction to new novels from Linda Rodriguez and Cristina García.

Bolivar-1003Already out: Bolivar: American Liberator by Marie Arana, author of American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood, explores the life of one of South America’s most iconic figures. Arana talked about the book to NPR and The Huffington Post.

• In the novel The Ingenious Gentleman and Poet Federico Garcia Lorca Ascends to Hell, Carlos Rojas imagines the Spanish poet in hell.

AutobiographyofmyHungersMay 6: Rigoberto González explores his life in a series of essays in Autobiography of My Hungers.

May 7: Pura Belpré Award-winning author Duncan Tonatiuh uses immigration as an allegory for his children’s picture book, Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale. The book was featured in US News and World Report.

every+broken+trust• Linda Rodriguez is back with detective Skeet Bannion, who is solving a series of murders and her own personal problems in Every Broken Trust.

• In Amy Tintera’s young adult novel Reboot, Texas teenagers are forced to be slaves. Here’s the trailer, which was posted on Entertainment Weekly, and an interview in Latina magazine.

IAmVenusMay 16: Spanish painter Diego Velázquez becomes intrigued with one of his subjects in Barbara Mujica‘s novel I Am Venus.

May 21: In the Cristina García novel King of Cuba, a Cuban exile living in Florida is determined to get rid of a Fidel Castro-like figure.

MidnightinMexicoMay 30: Journalist Alfredo Corchado describes life in his native country in Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness.

June 4: Three pre-teens go back to the time of the Mayans in the Matt de la Pena book Infinity Ring: Curse of the Ancients, part of the Infinity Ring series.

Awards:

The nominees for the 2013 International Latino Book Awards have been announced. Nominated authors include Joy Castro, Leila Cobo, Reyna Grande, Linda Rodriguez and Gwendolyn Zepeda, as well as the anthology Count On Me: Tales of Sisterhood and Fierce Friendships.

Junot Díazs This Is How You Lose Her is up for the American Library Association’s Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. The winner will be announced in June.

Events:

• The Spanish language LeaLA book fair will take place May 17-20, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Other features:

The remains of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda are being examined to see if he was poisoned, according to The Daily Beast.

Rosemary Catacalos has been named the first Latina Texas State Poet Laureate, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Gwendolyn Zepeda was named the city of Houston’s first poet laureate.

Isabel Allende, author of the newly released Maya’s Notebook, shared her reading habits with The New York Times and the five books that most influenced her to The Daily Beast.

Alex Espinoza, author of The Five Acts of Diego León, talked to NPR about how Tomas Rivera’s book … And The Earth Did Not Devour Him influenced him. He also discussed his book to the Los Angeles Times.

• Also in the Times, Dagoberto Gilb talked to Héctor Tobar about his literary magazine, Huizache, and the Latino Lit scene.

Manuel Ramos discussed his novel, Desperado: A Mile High Noir, to the Denver newspaper Westword.

Alisa Valdes is releasing a chapter a day of her book Puta.

• Eight Latino poets shared their favorite poems to NBC Latino.

• NPR covered the popularity of Venezuelan novels and visited the Ciudad Juarez club that inspired Benjamin Alire Saenz’s award-winning book, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club.

The New Yorker published a short story by the late Roberto Bolaño.

• Here’s a few interesting podcasts: Junot Díaz and Francisco Goldman at a Radio Ambulante podcast in February and a few events from the Lorca in New York festivities.

• California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera gave his playlist to alt.latino website on NPR.

• Got an ereader? Now you can download Sandra Cisneros’ books on there, according to Publishers Weekly.

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Filed under 2013 Books, Awards, Children's Books, Fiction, News, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Young Adult Books

Classic book review: Alisa Valdes’ “The Dirty Girls Social Club”

the-dirty-girls-social-clubYou know how you have that friend that’s funny and entertaining, but sometimes they’re annoying, too? The Dirty Girls Social Club by Alisa Valdes is like that friend.

Social Club, which was released in 2003, focuses on six friends in their late 20s in Boston who met in college and reunite several times a year. The characters are Lauren, the newspaper columnist looking for love; Rebecca, the uptight magazine editor stuck in a stale marriage; Elizabeth, the newscaster with a secret; Sara, the stay-at-home mom in denial about her abusive marriage; Usnavys, the non-profit executive who is torn over her relationship with a man who makes less money than her; and Amber, the musician who is active in the Mexica movement and later changes her name to Cuicatl.

The book has been frequently referred to as a Latina Sex and the City or Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan because of its depiction of strong female friendship. But it’s unique in its depiction of Latina in high-powered professional roles.

Valdes, a former newspaper reporter, writes clearly, so it’s an easy read. One scene in which Sara’s life is in danger is particularly gripping. Valdes has a knack for depicting women’s complex feelings and personalities, and she can nail some funny moments.

Take this scene in which Lauren found out some bad news:

“I feel like killing myself. I stop at the corner Korean market and buy a bag of Hot Cheetos, a carton of powdered sugar donuts, three chocolate bars, and a can of Pringles.”

Or this conversation between two of the characters:

“Back in college, you remember that trip we all took to Cancún for spring, you, me, Roberto, that guy Gerald I was dating, Lauren and that one guy, whatever his name was?”

“Alberto. Pimple man.”

“Alberto. Zits galore. Him.”

But some things tested my patience. The exposition takes too long. The character of Usnavys is so shallow that she’s hard to like. And considering the book takes place in a six-month span, the ending wraps up just a bit too tidy.

Still, just like that friend who can be annoying, Dirty Girls Social Club is also something that can be fun and rewarding.

Alisa ValdesMore about Alisa Valdes:

Cuban-American, New Mexico-based Alisa Valdes’ newest book is the just-released The Feminist and the Cowboy. She’s written two sequels to The Dirty Girls Social Club – Dirty Girls on Top and Lauren’s Saints of Dirty Faith, as well as a cooking blog, in addition to other novels.

Source: I checked this book out of the library.

Note: This review is part of a series of classic books by Latinas, which I’m catching up from last year. Next up: Under the Feet of Jesus by Helena María Viramontes.

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In the news: Books from Valdes, Gonzales kick off the new year

Here’s what’s happening in the first month of 2013 (Note: I updated this article to include the Blanco and Valdes links.):

Feminist and the CowboyJust released: In The Feminist and the Cowboy: An Unlikely Love Story, Alisa Valdes recounts her relationship with a man with opposite views. In an intriguing article in Salon, Valdes said the relationship was abusive. In The Tragedy of Fidel Castro, Portuguese writer Joao Cerqueira imagines how Jesus Christ would settle the battle between Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

Ways of Going HomeJan. 8: Chilean Alejandro Zambra depicts life in the Pinochet-era Chile in the novel Ways of Going Home.

Jan. 10: The Miniature Wife and Other Stories is a quirky collection of 18 short stories from Tejano Manuel Gonzales, whose work has appeared in The Believer and Esquire.

JunotDiazEvents:

Junot Díaz (right) and Francisco Goldman will speak at “A Benefit Evening of Latin American Storytelling,” Feb. 5 in New York City, with proceeds going to Radio Ambulante. Radio Ambulante’s executive producer, Daniel Alarcon, will moderate.

Literary magazines:

• The literary magazine BorderSenses is taking submissions until March 31 for its next issue. The publication will take short stories, poetry and book reviews in English and Spanish, as well as artwork. Write to editor@bordersenses.com.

Other features:

• Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco will read a poem at President Obama’s inauguration later this month, becoming the first Latino to hold that honor, NPR reports. He was also profiled in The New York Times.

• In a much-discussed article, The New York Times wrote about the lack of Latino-oriented books for children. In a follow-up article, Aurora Anaya-Cerda of La Casa Azul Bookstore in East Harlem, N.Y., gave her reading recommendations. Many small publishers felt they were not represented in the article, and Publishers Weekly featured those presses, including Lee and Low Books and Arte Público.

•  Arte Público books, which recently moved into new headquarters, was recently profiled in The Houston Chronicle.

ABC News/Univision marked the 50th anniversary of the Latin American Boom in literature.

• Book editor Marcela Landres delivered her list of the best in Latino literature for 2012.

Junot Díaz talked with NBC Latino about how he found his literary voice. He also discussed his love for libraries, politics and the greatness of Star Wars on the TV show Moyers & Company.

Joy Castro talked to the Lincoln Journal-Star about the prospect of her 2012 book, Hell or High Water, being optioned by actress Zoe Saldana for a possible movie or TV show.

Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street and Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist are among the 30 selections for World Book Night, in which volunteers will give out books April 23. Sign up to be giver by Jan. 23.

• Cisneros remembered Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, who passed away last year, in The New York Times.

• Chilean Roberto Ampuero, author of The Neruda Case and his country’s ambassador to Mexico, was profiled in The Wall Street Journal.

• The film version of Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima is coming to the big screen, reports the Huffington Post.

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In the News: New releases, writer’s workshop and García Márquez

Hello August! Here are great selections to beat the heat:

• Already released: Gustavo Arellano and Luis Alberto Urrea are among the writers who contributed to Ban This! The BSP Anthology of Xican@ Literature, edited by S.J. Rivera. The book was published in response to the state of Arizona’s ban on ethnic studies earlier this year.

• Now in paperback: Esmeralda Santiago’s Conquistadora, which was selected as Ladies’ Home Journal’s August Book of the Month (here’s a discussion guide and letter from Santiago); Paulo Coelho’s Aleph; Maria Duenas The Time in Between and Javier Sierra’s The Lost Angel.

Alisa Valdes has a new erotic e-novel out called Puta. You can read the first two chapters for free on Amazon.

Aug. 28: Reyna Grande writes about immigrating from Mexico to California in her memoir, The Distance Between Us.

Sept. 4: Count on Me: Tales of Sisterhoods and Fierce Friendships features an all-star list of Latinas –Santiago, Grande, Sofia Quintero, Carolina De Robertis, Lórraine Lopez writing about the importance of female friendships. The book was produced by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club and edited by Adriana V. López.

Writer’s Workshop

Speaking of Las Comadres, the organization will host a writer’s workshop Oct. 6 in New York City. Speakers include Sesame Street actress and children’s book writer Sonia Manzano, left, as well as Lyn DiIorio, and Caridad Pineiro.

In other news:

• Sad News: It’s been confirmed that Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Márquez,  right, can no longer write due to dementia, according to The New York Times. The Daily Beast/Newsweek ran an interesting blog post about his writing process.

Bless Me Ultima author Rudolfo Anaya was honored by the city of El Paso as the movie version of the book is expected to premiere in September, reports the El Paso Times.

• Poets and Writers magazine profiled the Librotraficante movement. Its founder, Tony Díaz is planning a “50 for Freedom of Speech” teach-in in all 50 states Sept. 21.

Joy Castro talked about her novel, Hell or High Water, to Book Page.

Mexican-American poet Manuel Paul Lopez of El Centro, Calif., was featured in a KCET animated short about his chapbook, “1984,” which is his interpretation of the classic George Orwell novel.

Junot Díaz discussed his short story, “The Cheater’s Guide to Love,” to The New Yorker. The story is included in his book, This is How You Lose Her, out on Sept. 11.

Diana Gabaldon will see her Outlander books made into a TV series, according to the Word & Film website.

• A recent edition of the NPR radio program “Latino USA” took a look at Luis Alfaro’s new play, “Bruja,” and got reading recommendations from Aurora Anaya Cerda, owner of La Casa Azul Bookstore in East Harlem, N.Y.

• A new literary prize for works written in Spanish will be named after the late Carlos Fuentes, reports Publishing Perspectives.

• Celebrating birthdays this month: Jorge Luis Borges on Aug. 24.

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