Tag Archives: Denise Chavez

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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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: 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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In the news: New releases from González and Díaz, book festivals and more

September means new books and book festivals. Here’s a look at what’s going on:

Already released: Rigoberto González’s Mariposa Gown – a sequel to The Mariposa Club –depicts the friendship between three teenage boys who want to make a splash at their high school prom with the titular outfit.

Brazilian writer Jorge Amado‘s The Double Death of Quincas Water-Bray and The Discovery of America by the Turks have received new translations from Gregory Rabassa. To mark Amado’s 100th birthday, Rabassa and writer Rivka Glachen will discuss Amado’s work Sept. 17 at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute, reports the Shelf Awareness newsletter. The Millions website also wrote about the two new releases.

• Sept. 11: Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz will release a collection of short stories, This is How You Lose Her. Here’s a cool Pinterest board by blogger Poornima Apte that shows the town and other details from the book. (She did the same for Roberto Ampuero’s The Neruda Case and other books.) Díaz has been all over the media: dressing up in Edith Wharton-era clothes for a Vogue fashion spread; discussing his love life in New York magazine; sharing his reading habits with The New York Times; and compiling a playlist to NPR’s alt. Latino website.

Sept. 25: In the novel The Secret Book of Frida Kahlo, Mexican writer F.G. Haghenbeck writes about the life of the iconic Mexican artist.

Sept. 27: Spoken word poet Carlos Andrés Gómez discusses how masculinity is evolving in Man Up: Cracking the Code of Modern Manhood.

Book festivals:

Here’s a look at some upcoming book festivals:

• Sept. 15: Houston Librofest will play host to Gwendolyn Zepeda (right), Javier O. Huerta and Sarah Cortez.

• Sept. 22-23: The National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. will feature Sandra Cisneros, Junot Díaz, Mario Vargas Llosa, Justin Torres and Maria Dueñas. Mexican-born, California-based Rafael Lopez is the festival artist.

Sept. 23: The Brooklyn Book Festival will include Carlos Andrés Gómez, Charles Rice-Gonzalez, Reyna Grande, Esmeralda Santiago, Luis Alberto Urrea, and graphic artists Gilbert & Jaime Hernandez.

• Sept. 28-30: The Baltimore Book Festival will feature Caridad Pineiro and Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban.

Literary Magazines:

• Several Latino-oriented literary magazines are out with new issues. Acentos Review, edited by Bonafide Rojas, focuses on music on its August 2012 edition. The bilingual BorderSenses published its 18th volume. Lorna Dee Cervantes, Rigoberto Gonzales and Andrea J. Serrano are featured in the latest issue of the Mas Tequila Review.

• The fall issue of Zyzzyva magazine, which is devoted to West Coast writers, features works by Dagoberto Gilb and Luis Alberto Urrea.

Librotraficante:

Sept. 21: Librotraficante, which was founded earlier this year to protest the state of Arizona’s ban on ethnic studies, will host a 50 States of Freedom of Speech event in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins Sept. 15.

Writer’s Workshop

Las Comadres Para Las Americas will host a writer’s workshop Oct. 6 in New York City. Speakers include Sesame Street actress and children’s book writer Sonia Manzano, author of the just released The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, as well asLyn DiIorio, and Caridad Pineiro.

Other features:

• NPR featured the latest work of graphic comic book artist Jaime Hernandez, creator of the Love and Rockets series.

• The El Paso Times has marked the 40th anniversary of the Rudolfo Anaya novel Bless Me Ultima with essays from Rigoberto González, Denise Chávez and other writers.

• Argentine writers will now receive a pension, according to The New York Times.

Reyna Grande, author of The Distance Between Us, talked to the Zyzzyva website.

• Junot Díaz was among the writers at the Edinburgh World Writer’s Conference who condemned Arizona’s ban on ethnic studies.

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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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Classic book review: Denise Chávez’s “Loving Pedro Infante”

Denise Chávez’s 2001 Loving Pedro Infante is one of those books that becomes your friend.

Tere Avila is an “educational assistant” – teacher’s aide – in Cabritoville, near El Paso. She’s a divorced, 30-something woman who spends her time hanging out with her best friend, Irma, at Tino’s La Tempestad Lounge every Friday and Saturday night and serving as secretary in the Pedro Infante Fan Club, whose members watch the Mexican actor’s old movies from the 1940s and 1950s and analyze them as though they were in an English literature class.

Tere’s ordinary, somewhat lonely, life gets a jolt when she starts an affair with Lucio Valadez, a married man whose daughter attends the school she works at.

Sounds like an ordinary plot, right? But what makes Pedro Infante so wonderful is Chávez’s writing. Tere speaks to the reader in first person, and the conversational tone makes you sympathize with her, laugh with her and, at times, want to scold her. (Fortunately, Irma does that for us.) Think of it as a Mexican version of Bridget Jones’s Diary or a small town Sex and the City.

The minutes from the Pedro Infante Fan Club meetings are particularly hilarious, but here’s some of the better lines:

On her love for Lucio: “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.”

On visiting a curandera’s house in a poor neighborhood: “Doña Meche was one of the richest women in Cabritoville. … She loved to invest in the stock market. Oh yeah? Well, invest in your neighborhood, and your yard, girl!”

On a visit to the bathroom with Irma: “I could hear Irma’s spurty but intense urine stream. She was a fast pisser and in this session she outdid herself. I could barely keep up with her, and I flushed early to make a number of deep growly farts.”

I absolutely loved Loving Pedro Infante. Please stop what you’re doing and go read it now.

More about Denise Chávez:

• A native of New Mexico, Denise Chávez has also written A Taco Testimony: Meditations on Family, Food and Culture, Face of An Angel and The Last of the Menu Girls. She is the director of The Border Book Festival, which will take place Thursday-Sunday in Mesilla, New Mexico.

Source: I checked this book out of the library.

This book is fourth in the series of classic books by Latina authors. Next month: Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate.

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In the news: Librotraficantes in Arizona, Anaya, Valdes, Díaz

Arizona:

The Librotraficante Caravan will kick off March 12 on its journey to distribute Latino-themed books that have been banned in Tucson classrooms. Aztec Muse founder Tony Diaz is spearheading the tour, which starts in Houston and hosts events during its stops in San Antonio, El Paso and Albuquerque and, finally, Tucson. The San Antonio event on March 13 will include Sandra Cisneros (right), Carmen Tafolla and Luis Alberto Urrea. The Tucson event on March 17 will feature Dagoberto Gilb and Helena Maria Viramontes. At each stop, the caravan will create Underground Libraries made up of the banned books.

Awards:

Bless Me Ultima author Rudolfo Anaya, left, will receive a lifetime achievement award from the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. The ceremony takes place April 20 and coincides with the Los Angeles Festival of Books April 21-22.

• Books by Sergio Chejfec, Tomás Eloy Martínez, Juan José Saer, Moacyr Scliar and Enrique Vila-Matas made the 2012 Best Translated Books Award Longlist.

Book Festivals:

• The Tucson Festival of Books, which runs March 10-11, will include Monica Brown, Denise Chavez, Diana Gabaldon, Carmen Giménez Smith, Grace Pena Delgado, Sam Quinones, Alberto Alvaro Ríos, Sergio Troncoso and Luis Alberto Urrea, right, who will give the keynote address during the Author’s Table Dinner March 9.

Children’s Literature Conference:

March 19 is the deadline for early registration for the National Latino Children’s Literature Conference, which takes place March 29-30 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The event includes seminars on educational strategies, networking opportunities and a keynote address by authors Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy.

Upcoming releases:

Alisa Valdes, best known for her Dirty Girls Social Club series, plans to publish 100-page ebook romance “novelas” for $1.99 one a month starting with Billy, the Man in April. (Click on her “eRomance” page.)

• Pultizer Prize winner Junot Díaz is releasing a new book of short stories called This Is How You Lose Her on Sept. 11, according to The New York Times.

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