Tag Archives: Carlos Fuentes

Happy Independence Day, Mexico!

Mexico declared its independence from Spain on Sept. 16, 1810. The North American country is the largest Spanish-speaking nation and perhaps the most influential Latin American nation in the world. Its close proximity to the United States has given writers great fodder for literature. Here’s a look at its writers:

OctavioPazOctavio Paz (1914-1998), right, won the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Cervantes Prize for Spanish language writers for his collection of poems, including 1957’s Sun Stone, which revolves around the Aztec calendar and was adapted into a play, and 1950’s The Labyrinth of Solitude, which focuses on his homeland.

Juan Rulfo Juan Rulfo (1918-1986), left, had a tremendous influence on writers, including Colombian writer Gabriel Gárcia Márquez, despite releasing only two books, 1955’s El llano en llamas/The Burning Plain and 1955’s Pedro Páramo. Short story writer Juan José Arreola (1918-2001) is known for his humorous writings, which are collected in the book, Confabulario and Other Inventions.

carlos-fuentes• Novelist Carlos Fuentes (1928-2012), right, was part of the Latin American boom in literature of the 1960s. He is best known for 1962’s The Death of Artemio Cruz, about a dying man looking back on his life, and 1985’s The Old Gringo, the story of an American writer in the Mexican Revolution. He also won the Cervantes Prize.

• Other winners of the Cervantes Prize are Sergio Pitol, a diplomat who described his international experiences and his life in Mexico in his 1996 novel El arte de la fuga/The Art of Flight, and José Emilio Pacheco, a poet and short story writer. Winners of the Rómulo Gallegos Prize include Fernando del Paso for Palinuro de México; Ángeles Mastretta for Mal de amores and Elena Poniatowska for El tren pasa primero.

LikeWaterforChocolate• Contemporary Mexican writers include Laura Esquivel, author of the hugely popular Like Water for Chocolate, and Juan Pablo Villalobos, author of Down the Rabbit Hole. Mexican-American writers include (among many others) Rudolfo Anaya, Sandra Cisneros, Alex Espinoza, Reyna Grande, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Michele Serros, Luis Alberto Urrea and Victor Villasenor.

Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, Poets.org, Wikipedia

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The Hispanic Reader is two!

The Hispanic Reader is two years today! And with our last post, a review of Javier Mácias’ The Infatuations, this blog has marked another milestone – 75 book reviews. Let’s look at these books:

MyBelovedWorldType of books:

  • 53: Novels
  • 6: Memoirs, including My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
  • 5: Short story collections
  • 4: Essay collections
  • 4: Non-Fiction
  • 3: Graphic books/Picture books

Death of Artemio CruzGender of authors:

Settings of book:

Note: Some books take place in more than one country. (And, in case you’re wondering, I kept a spreadsheet of these details.)

say-her-name-jpg-ccfb2220605708e3First book reviewed: Say Her Name by Francisco Goldman

Shortest book: Have You Seen Marie? by Sandra Cisneros, 112 pages, much of which were illustrations

Longest book: The Time in Between by Maria Duenas, 624 pages

AlephBorgesNumber of contemporary books (released during the blog’s existence): 58

Number of classic books (released before the blog’s existence): 17

Oldest Book: The Aleph by Jorge Luis Borges, released in 1949

Favorite title:The+Hummingbird's+Daughter Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

Favorite ending: When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago

Favorite book: The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea

Best passages:

From The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea

“If you are too blind to see God in a Goddamned taco … then you are truly blind.”

From Loving Pedro Infante by Denise Chávez

“There’s nothing a Mejicano or Mejicana loves more than the burning, stinging pain of thwarted, frustrated, hopeless, soulful, take-it-to-the-grave love. Nothing gets us going more than what I call rabia/love of the te-juro-you’re-going-to-pay-for-all-the-suffering-you-caused-me variety.”

From The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

“I kept waiting to run into my family posting up flyers of me on the boardwalk … but the closest I came to any of that was someone had put up for a cat they lost. That’s white people for you. They lost a cat and it’s an all-points bulletin, but we Dominicans, we lost a daughter and we might not even cancel our appointment at the salon.”

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Classic book review: Carlos Fuentes’ “The Death of Artemio Cruz”

Death of Artemio CruzThe Death of Artemio Cruz (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) by Carlos Fuentes is the elegantly written novel about an enigmatic man.

The book was released in 1962 in the midst of the Latin American boom in literature that brought novels from Gabriel García Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa and Julio Cortázar. The book is considered the greatest work from the Mexican writer, who passed away last year.

The book begins with 71-year-old Cruz, a businessman and former Congressman, lying in a coma in a hospital. His wife, Catalina, and daughter, Theresa, would like to see him die – for financial and emotional reasons. Cruz drifts in and out of the coma, thinking about the experiences in his life – taking advantage of peasants to add to his fortune; having affairs with numerous women, including his wife’s best friend; fighting for the government, and betraying a friend, in the Mexican Revolution. He recalls these and numerous other incidents without any sense of guilt or remorse.

I was intimidated by Cruz, but the book was fairly easy to read thanks to Alfred Mac Adam’s clear translation. The book requires patience at times. Fuentes writes in long paragraphs that almost seem like they will never end. The situations may take some time to figure out because they often begin in the middle of a scene or conversation.

But in those long paragraphs, Fuentes makes some great observations about the choices people make in life.

“It’s much easier to say: this is good and that is evil. Evil. You could never say, ‘That is evil.’ Perhaps because we are more forsaken, we do not want to lose that intermediate, ambiguous zone between light and shadow, that zone where we can find forgiveness. Where you may be able to find it. Isn’t everyone, in a single moment of his life, capable of embodying – as you do – good and evil at two mysterious, different-colored threads that unwind from the same spool, so that the white thread ascends and the black descends and, despite everything, the two come together again in his very fingers? You won’t want to think about all that. You will detest me for reminding you of it.”

The rights for the movie version were sold last year, and I’d be interested to see how this book translates to film. Artermio Cruz, the character, is not easy to like. But Artemio Cruz, the book, is an intriguing experience.

carlos-fuentesMore about Carlos Fuentes:

One of Mexico’s best known novelists, Fuentes also wrote The Old Gringo, Aura and other novels. He won the Cervantes Prize, given to Spanish-speaking writers, in 1987. He passed away in May 2012. Here’s his obituary from The New York Times.

Source: I checked this book out of the library.

Note: This review is part of my series of classic Latino novels. Up next: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.

 

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In the news: Books from Bolaño, Saramago; new literary magazine

(I’m still taking a break, but check out my story I wrote about a Dallas theater company’s adaption of Sandra Cisneros’ Women Hollering Creek for the Theater Jones website.)

The Hispanic Reader will be taking a long hiatus, so here’s the new releases, events and holiday books to keep you entertained for the rest of the year. See you in 2013.

New releases:

Nov. 13Woes of the True Policeman is the last book Roberto Bolaño wrote before his death. The novel follows a Chilean professor as he undergoes several personal crises.

Nov. 30 - In the children’s book The Poet Upstairs by Judith Ortiz Cofer, a young girl makes friends with a writer.

• Dec. 4 – Raised From the Ground, by the late Nobel Prize winner José Saramago, is a reissue of a book – published for the first time in English – that depicts the lives of Portuguese peasants.

Dec. 11 – The children’s book The Beautiful Lady: Our Lady of Guadalupe by Pat Mora features the iconic Mexican figure.

Awards:

• The National Book Awards announced its nominations, with Junot Díaz’s  This is How You Lose Her shortlisted in the fiction category and Domingo Martinez’s The Boy Kings of Texas making the non-fiction category. Martinez spoke to NPR about how he learned about his nomination. Winners will be announced Nov. 14.

Literary magazines:

• The second issue of the literary magazine Huizache, produced by CentroVictoria – the Center for Mexican American Literature and Culture at the University of Houston-Victoria, is out. Contributors include Lorna Dee Cervantes, Rigoberto Gonzalez, Luis J. Rodriguez, Michele Serros and Gary Soto.

Book Festivals:

• The Miami Book Fair Festival International takes place Nov. 16-18. Featured authors include Malin Alegria, Roberto Ampuero, Joy Castro, Sandra Cisneros, Jeanne Cordova, Junot Díaz, Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Reyna Grande and Justin Torres.

Other News:

Sandra Cisneros discussed her newest book, Have You Seen Marie?, to NBC Latino, CNN and the LA Review of Books.

Junot Díaz talked to Wired magazine about the science-fiction book he’s writing, Monstro, and to LA Review of Books about his current book, This Is How You Lose Her.

Luis Alberto Urrea’s Into the Beautiful North has been named a 2013 Big Read selection by the National Endowment for the Arts.

• Pulitzer Prize winner Oscar Hijuelos will be featured in Symphony Space’s Artful Dining fundraiser Nov. 12 in New York City. Sonia Manzano will lead the discussion.

• Mexico City celebrated the 50th anniversary of Gabriel Gárcia Márquez’s move to that city by putting up posters honoring him, according to an article by Héctor Tobar in the Los Angeles Times. Tobar also wrote about a MacArthur Grant-winning Orange County barbershop that features a bookstore and is teaming up with Chapman University to promote Latino literature.

• Ploughshares magazine talked to Aurora Anaya-Cerda, owner of the La Casa Azul Bookstore in East Harlem, N.Y., that is devoted to Latino literature.

• Voices of New York wrote up about the Las Comadres Para Las Americas writer’s conference last month, with some interesting insights about Latinos in publishing.

• Want a blog that features the poetry of Pablo Neruda with pictures of cats? Here you go.

Also:

• Celebrating birthdays in November: The late Carlos Fuentes, right, and Nobel Prize winner José Saramago.

• Celebrating birthdays in December: Sandra Cisneros, Nobel Prize winning poet Juan Ramon Jimenez and Manuel Puig.

• Looking for gifts for the holidays? Here some some Christmas books for children and adults.

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The Hispanic Reader is one year old today!

It’s The Hispanic Reader’s one-year anniversary! Since my first post, I’ve talked to eight authors, marked 18 writers’ birthdays, reviewed 37 books and written 117 posts. To celebrate, I’m giving you a couple of presents.

First, I created a Features Index that includes links to those author interviews and profiles; lists of books for special occasions (from Christmas to quinceañeras); and features about Latino literature, such as a look at writers who have won the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes. (I already have an index of book reviews.)

Second, I’ve created a trivia quiz about Latino literature from my posts and book reviews in the past year. (You can find more information about the answers below the quiz.) Good luck and have fun!

1. The answer is D. In the 2001 movie, the flighty Sara (Kate Beckinsale) writes her name and phone number in a copy of Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera and tells Jonathan (John Cusack), who she just met, that if their love is meant to be, he will find that copy in a bookstore. Appropriate book since Cholera is about a man who waits 50 years for the woman he loves.

2. The answer is A. Although he is considered one of the top storytellers in Latino literature, Borges never won the Nobel. Only 12 Latinos have, including Paz, Saramago and Vargas Llosa. But Borges did get a Google doodle on his birthday.

3. The answer is B. Luis Valdez began directing plays on a flatbed truck and union halls during the Delano Grape Strike of the 1960s. His theater company is aptly named El Teatro Campesino. Considered the father of Latino theater, he wrote the play Zoot Suit and the directed the movie version and La Bamba.

4. The answer is C. In Il Postino, Pablo Neruda helps an Italian postal carrier woo his love. The 1994 film, based on an Antonio Skarmeta book, earned a Best Picture nomination. The other answers were books – by Laura Esquivel, Isabel Allende and Carlos Fuentes – that also were made into movies.

5. The answer is B. Loving Pedro Infante by Denise Chávez takes place in the tiny fictional town of Cabritoville, near El Paso.

6. The answer is B. Malín Alegría dons the elaborate dress in honor of her book Estrelle’s Quinceañera, one of many books about the popular Hispanic tradition. Veronica Chambers wrote the Magdalena and Marisol books; Diana López penned Choke; and Lorraine López authored The Realm of Hungry Spirits.

7. The answer is D. Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig is considered one of the most famous works in Latino literature of the last 50 years.

8. The answer is A. Hanks read Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude in the classic comedy caper.

9. The answer is D. Quiara Alegría Hudes won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 2012 for her play, Water by the Spoonful. Hudes, who also wrote 26 Miles and co-wrote the Tony-winner In the Heights, is one of the few Latinos to win the American award for literary arts and journalism. Although they have not won the Pulitzer, Julia Alvarez, Sandra Cisneros and Cristina García have written novels that have received strong critical acclaim.

10. The answer is C. Pablo Neruda knew Gabriela Mistral when he was growing up in Temuco, Chile. Fuentes and Paz are from Mexico. Allende is from Chile, but a generation younger than Neruda. Her uncle, President Salvador Allende, was friends with Neruda, a relationship depicted in Roberto Ampuero’s The Neruda Case.

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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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In the news: New books, awards and news from Vargas Llosa, Díaz, Cisneros

It’s July! The month offers plenty of intriguing books to keep you cool during the hot summer days:

Just released: Choke by Diana López, editor of the Huizache literary magazine, features middle school students caught in a dangerous choking game so they can become “breath sisters.” The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir by Domingo Martinez examines the author’s childhood in the Rio Grande Valley. In the novel The Frost on His Shoulders by Spanish author Lorenzo Mediano, a teacher in 1930s looks back on a romance that ripped a small town in the Pyrenees Mountains.

July 10: Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Prisoner of Heaven, the third in his Cemetery of Forgotten Books series, follows a newlywed couple who must go back in time to 1940s Barcelona to uncover a terrible secret.

July 17: Joy Castro’s Hell or High Water features newspaper reporter Nola Céspedes investigating the world of violent predators in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. Gwedolyn Zepeda writes about single mother facing a family crisis in Better with You Here.

Awards:

Héctor Tobar’s The Barbarian Nurseries won the California Book Award in the Fiction category.

Winners in the ForeWord Book of the Year, which honor independently published books, include Sergio Troncoso’s From This Wicked Patch of Dust, honorable mention, Multicultural Adult Fiction category, and Crossing Borders: Personal Essays, bronze, Essays; Lyn DiIorio’s Outside the Bones, second place, Literary Fiction; Blas Falconer and Lorraine M. López, editors of The Other Latin@, honorable mention, Adult Non-Fiction Anthologies; and Emerita Romero-Anderson, Milagro of the Spanish Bean Pot, Bronze, Juvenile Fiction.

Other news:

The Guardian profiled Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa, right, whose newest book is The Dream of the Celt.

Gabriel García Marquez, 85, is reportedly suffering from dementia, according to this Huffington Post article.

• A film version of the late Carlos Fuentes’ The Death of Artemio Cruz is in the works, reports the Word and Film website.

César Chávez’s The Words of César Chávez is the lone book by a Hispanic to make the Library of Congress exhibit, The Books That Shaped America.

• Here’s a video of Junot Díaz talking about his new book, This Is How You Lose Her, at last month’s Book Expo America. He also discussed the role of race in his writings to The Boston Review.

Luis Alberto Urrea talked about immigration to NPR’s Talk of the Nation.

 • Woo hoo! Sandra Cisneros has a new book - Have You Seen Marie? – coming out Oct. 2.

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Happy Birthday, Mario Vargas Llosa!

Mario Vargas Llosa was born 76 years ago today in Arequipa, Peru. He is one of only a dozen Latinos to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, which he received two years ago.

He is known – along with Mexican Carlos Fuentes and his rival, Colombian Gabriel García Márquez – for the Latin American boom in literature in the 1960s. Here’s a terrific article from The New York Times when he won the Nobel.

Politics remain a central theme in his works and his life – 1963′s Time of the Hero, which was burned by Peruvian soldiers because of its depiction of military schools; 1975’s Conversation in the Cathedral, describes life under 1950s Peru while dictator Manuel A. Odría rules the country; Death in the Andes, released in 1993, is a haunting tale about the disappearance of men in Peru; and 2000’s The Feast of the Goat, covers time in the Dominican Republic under Rafael Trujillo’s regime. Vargas Llosa ran unsuccessfully for president of Peru in 1990.

But Vargas Llosa isn’t always serious: 1982’s Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter is a comic novel about the title character’s affair with her nephew.

His next book, The Dream of the Celt, about Irish human rights activist Roger Casement, is scheduled to come out in June.

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Happy Birthday, Gabriel García Márquez!

(Update: García Márquez passed away in April 2014. Here is his obituary from The New York Times; an overview of his life in Mental Floss magazine that first appeared in 2009; a collection of his short stories published in The New Yorker; and reaction to his death from world leaders and writers compiled by the Huffington Post.)

Gabriel García Márquez was born 85 years old today in Aracataca, Colombia. He is the greatest Latino writer alive, perhaps ever.

García Márquez is known for his classic books, One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera. He was part of the Latin American boom of literature in the 1960s, along with Carlos Fuentes and his rival, Mario Vargas Llosa. (Their feud resulted in García Márquez getting a black eye.)

His books are known for their magic realism. But some books are too realistic: 1996’s News of a Kidnapping, which reflected the turmoil in his country, recently received a sales boost in Tehran because the story is similar to recent events in that country.

What makes García Márquez the most significant writer in Latino literature today? He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature earlier than any other living recipient. But he’s also permeated the pop culture more than anyone else. Oprah Winfrey chose his works for her book club. Cholera plays a major plot point in the 2001 movie Serendipity. And, best of all, actor Tom Hanks is shown reading Solitude in the 1989 movie Turner and Hooch. What could be better than that?

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Happy Birthday, Carlos Fuentes!

Update: Carlos Fuentes passed away in May 2012. Here’s his obituary from The New York Times and a remembrance from his friends Alberto Manguel and Liz Calder in The Guardian.

Fuentes, perhaps Mexico’s best known writer, turns 83 today. Along with Columbian Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Peruvian Mario Llosa Vargas, he was part of the Latin American boom in literature in the 1960s and 1970s. Encyclopedia Britannica has his biography here.

His best known books are 1962’s The Death of Artemio Cruz, about an dying soldier looking back on his life, and 1985’s The Old Gringo, the story of an American writer in the Mexican revolution that was made into a 1989 movie with Gregory Peck, Jane Fonda and Jimmy Smits.

Here’s some clips of Fuentes on The Charlie Rose Show.

In this article for the Latin American Herald-Tribune, Fuentes discussed the history of Latin American literature.

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