Tag Archives: Jorge Luis Borges

In the News: Fall brings new releases from Piñeiro, Suarez and Brown

September is here. Here’s a look at the latest books and news in Latino lit:

a-crack-in-the-wall• Already out: In A Crack in the Wall by Claudia Piñeiro, a young woman asks about the whereabouts for a missing person. Piñeiro talked to Publishers Weekly, who called her “Argentina’s top crime writer.”

• A penguin starts school in the children’s book Tony Baloney School Rules by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

Latino Americans • Sept. 3 - Latino Americans: The 500-Year Legacy That Shaped a Nation by Ray Suarez is the companion book to the PBS series that will air this month.

Sept. 15: In Monica Brown’s children’s book, Marisol Mcdonald and the Clash Bash/Marisol Mcdonald Y La Fiesta Sin Igual, the sequel to the award-winning Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald no combina, the 8-year-old Peruvian-Scottish-American title character throws a birthday party.

41kDAwynZ3L._SY300_Sept 17: Musician Linda Ronstadt writes about her life in Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir. She talked to The New York Times about the book and her recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, which has prevented her from singing.

Sept. 24: The family of baseball great Roberto Clemente remember him in  Clemente: The True Legacy of an Undying Hero.

NakedSingularityAwards:

Sergio de la Pava won the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for debut writers for his novel, A Naked Singularity. Publishers Weekly profiled the author who is a public defender, like the character in his book, and self-published the book.

CristinaGarciaBook Festivals:

Sept. 21-22: The National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. will include Marie Arana, Monica Brown, Alfredo Corchado, Cristina García (right), Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez and Linda Ronstadt.

• Sept. 22: The Brooklyn Book Festival will feature Cristina García, Manuel Gonzales, Tim Z. Hernandez, Patricio Pron, Linda Rodriguez, Justin Torres and Juan Gabriel Vásquez.

ReynaGrandeWriter’s workshops:

Oct. 5: Reyna Grande (left) will be the keynote speaker at the Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference in Brooklyn, N.Y. The event will include panelists , such as Raquel Cepeda and Carlos Andrés Gómez, and one-on-one sessions with agents and editors.

Other features:

carmen_tafollaThe Texas Observer had a great article about three Latina poet laureates – Gwendolyn Zepeda of Houston, Olga Valle-Herr of McAllen and Carmen Tafolla (right) of San Antonio. The state of Arizona named Alberto Álvaro Ríos as its first Poet Laureate. NBC Latino profiled Ríos.

JunotDiazJunot Díaz (left) revealed his writing process to The Daily Beast. He also was profiled in Playboy, an article that received this response from The Atlantic Wire, which compared him to Hugh Hefner but “with less hair and more imagination.” This Is How You Lose Her will come out in paperback Sept. 3, with a deluxe edition featuring illustrations by Jaime Hernandez Oct. 31.

juan-gabriel-vasquezJuan Gabriel Vásquez (right), author of The Sound of Things Falling, picked his favorite Latino literature picks for The Daily Beast. He also talked to NPR about his book. The Atlantic Wire featured him in an article about contemporary Latin American literature.

ZambranoMario Alberto Zambrano (left) talked about the inspiration of his book Lotería to Kirkus Reviews. Zambrano also appeared on “The Diane Rehm Show” on NPR.

• Fans of Jorge Luis Borges can listen to him discuss his books thanks to some audio recordings he left behind, reports Héctor Tobar of The Los Angeles Times.

• PBS profiled Rueben Martinez, who turned his San Diego barbershop into a bookstore.

• NBC Latino talked to David Tomas Martinez about his transformation from gang member to poet.

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Filed under 2013 Books, Children's Books, Events, Fiction, News, Non-Fiction

Happy Independence Day, Argentina!

Argentina declared its independence from Spain on July 9, 1816. Pope Francis and soccer player Lionel Messi call the South American country home. The country boasts a romantic image (the tango) and a tumultuous history (the Dirty War, when thousands of young Argentines disappeared in the 1970s) that makes it perfect fodder for its writers. (Face palm. I somehow forgot about Julio Cortázar when I first wrote this. Here’s his profile.)

Jorge_Luis_BorgesJorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) has become one of the most beloved writers of all time thanks to his short stories, which are collected in the books The Aleph and Ficciones. He won the Cervantes Prize, one of the most prestigious awards given to Spanish-language writers. Another Cervantes winner, Adolfo Bioy Casares (1914-1999), wrote the science fiction novel, The Invention of Moral, which was called “perfect” by Borges, a frequent collaborator.

Ernesto_Sabato_circa_1972• Other Cervantes honorees include Ernesto Sábato (1911-2011), left, who tackled psychological issues in books such as The Tunnel, and poet Juan Gelman, whose relatives who went missing during the Dirty War, inspiring  his political activism. The Dirty War is the focus of Carolina DeRobertis’ novel Perla.

puigManuel Puig (1932-1990) wrote one of Latino literature’s most famous works – the 1976 novel Kiss of the Spider Woman, about a gay man and a revolutionary who are trapped in prison together. The novel became a play, a popular Oscar-winning 1985 movie and Broadway musical. He also wrote 1968’s Betrayed by Rita Hayworth and 1973’s The Buenos Aires Affair.

Mempo Giardinelli• Winners of the Rómulo Gallegos International Novel Prize, one of Latin America’s most prestigious literary awards, are Abel Posse for Los perros del paraíso; Mempo Giardinelli, left, for Santo oficio de la memoria; and Ricardo Piglia, for Blanco nocturno.

JuliaAmante• Other writers with Argentine roots include Julia Amante, right, author of Say You’ll Be Mine; Annamaria Alfari, whose latest novel, Blood Tango, features Argentina’s most famous political couple, Juan and Eva Peron; quirky novelist César Aira; and Sonia Nazario, Pulitzer Prize winner author of Enrique’s Journey.

Sources: Britannica.com, Wikipedia. Hat tip for Joy Castro for the Borges quote on Casares.

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Short and sweet: A look at Latino short story collections

May is Short Story Month. When it comes to this particular form of storytelling, Latino authors have produced some memorable and diverse collections.

AlephBorgesJorge Luis Borges: Considered a master of the short story, Borges’ works in the 1949 collection The Aleph will take you from the ancient times to the 20th century, from Argentina to the Middle East, from wars to personal revenge. One thing is certain – the ending will surprise you.

WomanHollering+Creek.wix_mpSandra Cisneros: In her spectacular 1992 collection Women Hollering Creek: And Other Stories, Cisneros writes about everyday people’s struggles – a 11-year-old having a bad day at school; a woman in love with Emiliano Zapata; a group of people who pray to the Virgin de Guadalupe (a story that inspired a play) and, in the title story, a woman who compares her troubled life to La Llorona, the weeping woman.

ThisIsHowYouLoseHerJunot Díaz: Yunior de las Casas, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, is the main character in Díaz’s two collections, 1997′s Drown and 2012′s This Is How You Lose Her (and Díaz’s novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao). You may not always like Yunior’s bad language and misogynistic attitude, but you can’t stop reading about his ordeals with love and life.

Miniature WifeDagoberto Gilb and Manuel Gonzales: These two Tejanos have produced two wildly different collections of short stories in the last two years. Gilb’s 2011 Before the End, After the Beginning shows the gritty lives of men facing tough decisions. Gonzales’ 2013 The Miniature Wife and Other Stories features men dealing with unicorns, werewolves and zombies.

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Classic book review: Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Aleph”

AlephBorgesJorge Luis Borges is hard to trust.

You never know what you’re going to get in his 1949 collection of short stories, The Aleph.

The Aleph, along with his 1944 book Ficcones, is a collection of short stories regarded as one of the greatest books from the Argentine writer. Borges is considered to be one of the greatest writers of the 20th century and one of the innovators of magic realism. His works have influenced such authors as Carlos Fuentes and Gabriel García Marquez, according to this comprehensive page from the Garden of Forking Paths fan page. He even has an unlikely fan in conservative political strategist Karl Rove.

The stories take place from the ancient times to the 20th century. The locations range from Argentina to the Middle East. War and revenge are frequent subjects. Religious themes are often evoked, with the Bible and Koran frequently cited. It’s not surprising labyrinths appear several times (or that the work of artist M.C. Escher, known for his elaborate drawings that often feature endless mazes, was chosen for the cover of the Penguin Classics edition).

Two men get in a vicious intellectual argument about the role of the Bible in “The Theologians.” In “The Biography of Tadeo Isidoro Cruz (1829-1874),” a soldier realizes who he is on the battlefield. A woman named “Emma” plots a clever way of revenge. A man is obsessed by a coin called the “Zahir,” a reflection of society’s obsession with money.

I was intimidated about reading Borges’ stories. His works were easier to read than I thought it would be, but I had to reread some passages several times.

If some situations came off as repetitive, others came off as original and I was waiting for what the twist was going to be. But the story that most intrigued me was one that grounded in realism. In “Deutsches Requim,” a Nazi recounts his time as a concentration prison guard. The story was chilling.

The Penguin Classics edition, translated by Andrew Hurley, also includes The Maker, a series of essays. The most powerful one being “In Memorium, J.F.K.,” a history of weapons used for killing.

Jorge Luis Borges is hard to trust, and hard to forget.

Jorge_Luis_BorgesMore about Jorge Luis Borges:

Borges, who was born in 1899 in Argentina and died in 1986, worked as a librarian and also wrote poetry. In 2011, he received a Google doodle in honor of his birthday.

Source: I purchased this book from Amazon.com

This review is part of my series of classic Latino novels. Up next: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros.

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Happy birthday, Oscar Hijuelos!

 

(Update: Oscar Hijuelos passed away in October 2013. Here is his obituary from The New York Times.)

Oscar Hijuelos was born August 24, 1951 in New York City. His 1989 book The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love became the first novel by a Latino author to win the prestigious Pulitzer Prize.

Hijuelos was raised by his Cuban parents in New York City – a childhood reflected in his first novel, 1983’s Our House in the Last World.

His next novel was Mambo Kings. The book, which depicts the lives of two Cuban brothers who pursue their musical dreams in New York City, was made into a 1996 movie staring Antonio Banderas.

Mr. Ives’ Christmas, published in 1996, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Here’s a great review of the book from NPR’s Ray Suarez. He also wrote 2000’s Empress of the Splendid Season and 2008’s Dark Dude. His most recent book is his 2011 memoir, Thoughts Without Cigarettes.

It’s a great day for Latino writers: Jorge Luis Borges and Paulo Coelho also celebrate birthdays today.

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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 books by Sáenz and Aira, plus Cisneros, García Márquez

New releases:

• Coming out this week: the young adult novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, about the friendship between two teenage boys, and Varamo by César Aira, about the making of an epic poem by a Panamanian bureaucrat.

Latino scholars honored:

Latino scholars Teófilo Ruiz and Ramón Saldívar were awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama.

Children’s books:

Pam Muñoz Ryan’s When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson and Esperanza Rising and Antonio Skarmeta’s The Composition made USA Today’s 100 Greatest Books for Kids.

Reading is Fundamental’s 2011-12 Multicultural Booklist includes books by Loretta Lopez, Alma Flor Ada, George Ancona and Gary Soto.

Other stories:

• The San Antonio Current ran an article about author Sandra Cisneros’ impact on the city, which she plans to leave.

Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera inspired Carlos Campos’ latest fashion collection, according to the Los Angeles Times.

• A Toronto librarian found a letter that appeared to have been written by Jorge Luis Borges, reports the Canadian magazine Quill & Quire.

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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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Happy Birthday, Jorge Luis Borges!


Argentinean author Jorge Luis Borges was born 112 years ago today, and Google celebrates his birthday with this great doodle on its home page.

 The Guardian features an article about Borges, calling him the “master of magic realism.”

The Garden of Jorge Borges and The Garden of Forking Paths are two websites devoted to Borges – both take their name from Borges’ first book, The Garden of Forking Paths.

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