Tag Archives: Lyn DiIorio

Book review: Sonia Sotomayor’s “My Beloved World”

MyBelovedWorldSupreme Court justices are so private that they almost don’t seem human. But readers can get to know Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who in 2009 became the first Hispanic to sit on the United States’ highest judicial branch, in her memoir, My Beloved World (Knopf).

The book begins with a gripping scene in which seven-year-old Sonia is determined to learn how to inject a needle of insulin. Sotomayor was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, which can lower one’s life expectancy if not treated properly. That and other life events – her alcoholic father’s death when she was nine, growing up poor in the Bronx – made her determined to succeed in life.

“Along with discipline, that habit of internal awareness was perhaps another accidental gift from my disease. It is linked, I believe to the ease with which I can recall the emotions attached to memories and to a fine-tuned sensitivity to others’ emotional states, which has served me well in the courtroom.”

The first 100 pages are the best of the book, with descriptive anecdotes about her childhood – playing with her younger brother and friends in their neighborhood, winning a forensic tournament, trips to her family’s native Puerto Rico. In one touching scene, she recalls her abuelita singing the poem “To Puerto Rico (I Return),” written by José Gautier Benítez and translated for the book by novelist Lyn DiIorio.

As she goes to Princeton University and pursues a legal career, she does more telling than showing. But readers will be charmed by her naïveté – such as the time she threw away an invitation from Phi Beta Kappa, a prestigious sorority, because she thought it was a scam – and will emphasize with her honesty – such as this passage about the end of marriage:

“The truth is that since childhood I have cultivated an existential independence. It came from perceiving the adults around me as unreliable and without it I felt I wouldn’t have survived. I cared deeply for my family, but in the end I depended on myself. That way of being was part of the person I would become, but where once it had represented salvation, now it was alienating me from the person I had vowed to spend my life with.”

My Beloved World is a great, inspirational book about the making of a Latino hero.

Sonia_SotomayorMore about Sonia Sotomayor:

In her free time, Sotomayor enjoys salsa dancing. Check out this narrated album of family photos and interview with Sotomayor from the NPR website, and this New York Times article about her book tour that has drawn thousands of fans.

Source: I purchased this book from La Casa Azul Bookstore.

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Filed under 2013 Books, Non-Fiction

Thrillers and chillers: Spooky books for adults

Halloween is a holiday for children, but adults can get in the act, too. (Why turn down the candy?) There’s no better way to get into the mood than with a creepy or suspenseful book. As part of book blogger Jenn Lawrence’s meme, Murder, Monsters & Mayhem, here’s a list of Latino-themed thrillers. And check out our list of Halloween books for children posted earlier this week.

Let’s start with the monsters – specifically, vampires. The Strain is a trilogy of novels by Mexican film director Guillermo del Toro, written with Chuck Hogan, about a virus that vampires inflict on the world. (If you want a creepy movie to watch on Halloween, his 2006 film Pan’s Labyrinth is an excellent choice.)

For a humorous touch, Marta Acosta’s Casa Dracula series, including Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, features a romance between the main character, Milagro de Los Santos, and a vampire. Caridad Piñeiro’s new book, Kissed by a Vampire, also features a paranormal romance – all part of her The Calling/Reborn series featuring the undead beasts.

Now let’s get to murder and mayhem, with several book series featuring Latino crime solvers. The Henry Rios series by Michael Nava, which has a gay lawyer in San Francisco as its lead character, began with The Little Death and ended with Rag and Bone. Rudolfo Anaya’s Sonny Baca series, which includes Zia Summer and Jemez Spring, features a detective solving crimes in New Mexico. The Rio Grande Valley is home to several thrillers, including Partners in Crime, by Rolando Hinojosa.

For books with a strong female protagonist, Lucha Corpi’s mysteries – including Eulogy for a Brown Angel, Cactus Blood and Black Widow’s Wardrobefeatures a clairvoyant detective solving crimes in Los Angeles. Or try these recent thrillers: Lyn DiIorio’s Outside the Bones, about a bruja who gets caught up in an old mystery; Joy Castro’s Hell or High Water , which has a newspaper reporter investigating sexual predators in New Orleans; and Linda Rodriguez’s  Every Last Secretabout a college police chief who solves a murder on campus.

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Filed under Features, Fiction

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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Filed under 2012 Books, Events, Fiction, News