Tag Archives: Raquel Cepeda

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.

2 Comments

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

In the news: April showers books from Coelho, Anaya and Allende

April is the month notorious for rain. Fortunately, there are plenty of books to keep you entertained:

RitaMoreno:AMemoirAlready out: In Rita Moreno: A Memoir, the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony-winning actress looks back on her life. Rigoberto González explores his influences on his writing in Red-Inked Retablos. The late Cuban poet Severo Sarduy’s novel Firefly examines the effects of surgery on two transvestites.

FidelPerezIn Elizabeth Huergo’s The Death of Fidel Pérez, townspeople in Cuba believe dictator Fidel Castro – not their  neighbor – has died.

April 2: Paulo Coehlo, author of The Alchemist and Aleph, explores mysterious documents in his new book Manuscript Found in Accra. The Guardian profiled the Brazilian author.

OldMan'sLoveStoryApril 19: Rudolfo Anaya writes about a widower coping with grief in The Old Man’s Love Story. Peruvian author Santiago Roncagliolo releases Hi, This is Conchita, a series of stories ranging from the sexy to the serious.

April 23: In Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende, a teenager returns to her home in Chile to cope with her past.

kentuckyclubAwards:

• After sweeping numerous awards for Dante and Aristotle Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz won the PEN/Faulkner Award for his book of short stories, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club. His publishers at Cinco Puntos Press talked about the book to The Washington Post.

• Saenz, poets Richard Blanco and Eduardo Corral and academic Ramón H. Rivera-Servera are among the Latinos nominated for prizes at the 25th Annual Lambda Literary Awards, which goes to books about the LGBT experience. The winners will be announced in June.

The Guardian reports that Junot Díaz won the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank award for his short story “Miss Lora,” which appeared in his book, This is How You Lose Her. Díaz also appeared on The Colbert Report last week, promoting Freedom University, a college for undocumented immigrants.

• The Westchester Fiction Award, which honors literature for young adults, nominated Saenz’s Dante and Aristotle and Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s Summer of the Mariposas.

Events:

Now-June 9: The Amherst, Mass.-based The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is presenting the exhibit “Latino Folk Tales,” about children’s literature aimed at young Hispanics, according to the Amherst Gazette. The exhibit will later show in University Center, Mich.; Phoenix; and Marshall, Texas.

April 5-July 21: A three-month celebration in New York City will honor of Spanish playwright Federico Garcia Lorca. His book about his experiences living in the city, Poet in New York, will be reissued.

April 6-7: Latino Literacy Now will play host to the 14th Annual Chicago Latino Book & Family Festival in Cicero, Ill.

April 18-21: Raquel Cepeda, author of Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina; Domingo Martinez, author of The Boy Kings of Texas; and children’s writers Pat Mora and Duncan Tonatiuh will be among the writers at the Arkansas Literary Festival in Little Rock.

April 19-21: The Border Book Festival in New Mexico explores the Camino Real de La Tierra Adentro.

April 20-21: The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books features Luis Alfaro, Gustavo Arellano, Alex Espinoza, Manuel Gonzales, Reyna Grande, Luis J. Rodriguez, Héctor Tobar and Luis Alberto Urrea.

April 30: Día de los niños, El día de los libros/Children’s Day, Book Day
– created by children’s author Pat Mora – celebrates its 17th anniversary this year. Find out about activities going on in your area.

Features:

The Los Angeles Times wrote about the making of the movie version of Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima, which got help from an heiress of the Wal-Mart fortune.

• Tony Díaz, leader of the Librotraficantes movement that brought banned books to Arizona, is now fighting a similar attempt in his home state of Texas, where legislators have introduced a bill in which ethnic studies courses would not count toward college graduation, according to the Texas Observer. The Los Angeles Times has noted an increase in interest in ethnic studies since the ban in Arizona took place.

CBS Morning News featured Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco, who presented the poem at President Obama’s inauguration earlier this year.

Publishing Perspectives profiled Dolores Redondo, a Basque writer who specializes in mysteries.

Also this month:

• April is National Poetry Month. Read about some great Latino poets.

• The Pulitzer Prizes will be announced April 15. Find out about Latino writers who have won the prestigious American award for journalism and literary arts.

• Celebrating birthdays this month: Nobel Prize winners Gabriela Mistral, José Echegaray and Vicente Aleixandre, as well as the late Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2013 Books, Awards, Events, News

Book review: Raquel Cepeda’s “Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina”

BirdofParadiseRaquel Cepeda wasn’t sure of her cultural identity. Even her friends and family weren’t sure.

“Papi said I wanted to be Black because I love hip-hop, and a low-class Dominican because I like graffiti and b-boys. The kids … said I wanted to be white because I played tennis … Casimiro said I needed to recognize and embrace my natives indios and africanos in order to strengthen my spiritual guide … Caridad told me I had a vibe of a Black and white gringa. And Blackie said I could be from anywhere. But I like being Dominican, sort of, especially one born in Harlem who likes to wear socks in the winter.”

Her search for her personal and culture identity is the subject of her memoir Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina (Atria). Readers may be inspired to investigate their own heritage after reading her book.

Cepeda divides the book into two parts, beginning with her personal life. Her parents split up early and Cepeda moved between her relatives – in the Dominican Republic and New York City – throughout her life.

Unfortunately, she was frequently abused by her father and neglected by her mother. Cepeda uses a conversational tone, good description and dialogue to keep the story moving, but these sections are intense and hard to read at times. (Some readers may be turned off by the explicit language.)

Cepeda found solace in the hip-hop world, becoming a music journalist. But when she has her own family and her father almost dies, she yearns to learn more about her heritage and persuades her parents to take DNA tests. She finds her father’s family can be traced to Africa and her mother’s family to Europe. Cepeda delves into Dominican Republic history, noting that many of its residents (and Latinos in general) can claim to be several races.

She quotes Ken Rodriguez, a software trainer and avid genealogist.

“ ‘In my opinion the biggest misconception is that Hispanic is a race in the first place. Hispanic people are generally a mix of different racial backgrounds. You can be White, Black, Asian, Amerindian, Jewish, and still be Hispanic,” he says, echoing a sentiment of many Latino-Americans. ‘What unites us is the Hispanic culture, not our race.’”

Cepeda creates a fascinating and compelling look at the complex issue of ethnicity by personalizing the issue. You even may want to get your own DNA tested.

cepeda_raquelMore about Raquel Cepeda:

Cepeda has written for various publications and edited the anthology And It Don’t Stop: The Best Hip-Hop Journalism of the Last 25 Years. She also directed and produced the 2007 documentary film Bling: A Planet Rock.

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2013 Books, Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2013 Books, Awards, Events, Movies, News

Happy Independence Day, Dominican Republic!

The Dominican Republic declared its independence from Haiti on February 27, 1844. Part of the Carribbean, it’s the homeland of fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, actress Zoe Saldana and much of Major League Baseball – and some great writers.

Julia-AlvarezJulia Alvarez, who was raised as a child in the Dominican Republic, wrote about one family’s immigration from that country to the United States in How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents. In the Time of Butterflies was a fictionalized depiction of the Mirabel sisters, a family who rebelled from the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. She’s also written the Tía Lola children’s series and other fiction and non-fiction books.

JunotDiazJunot Díaz, who was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to New Jersey as a child, drew on his heritage for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, in which the main character’s family is put under a fukú. His two collections of short stories, Drown and This is How You Lose Her, show Dominican immigrants coping with life and love in the United States.

SofiaQuinteroNew Yorker Sofia Quintero, who is of Puerto Rican-Dominican heritage, has written a variety of books, from the chick lit Divas Don’t Yield, the Black Armetis hip hop series and the young adult novel Efrain’s Secret. She talks about her background in this 2009 article with The UBS.com, which also features other Afro-Latino writers.

cepeda_raquelRaquel Cepeda, who grew up in New York City and briefly lived in the Dominican Republic as a child, delves into the history of that country and her family in her book Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina.

2 Comments

Filed under Nation profiles