Tag Archives: Sandra Cisneros

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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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: July brings books from López, Alfieri and Castro

It’s July and it’s getting hot out there! Here’s a look at new releases and other news to keep you cool:

AskMyMoodRingHowIFeel• Already out: Diana López, author of Choke, has a new book for young readers, Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel, about a young girl coping with her mother’s cancer.

• In Blood Tango by Annamaria Alfieri, the Argentine police is looking for a killer who may have wanted to murder Eva Peron.

House of Impossible Loves• A Spanish family faces a curse in which the women suffer doomed loved affairs in Cristina Lopez Barrio’s The House of Impossible Loves.

• Marta Acosta, author of the Casa Dracula books, has written the novel The She-Hulk Diaries, about the female Incredible Hulk.

Crossing-Over• Rubén Martínez’s Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail, which follows a family that immigrates from Mexico to America, has been reissued with a new afterword. His book Desert America: A Journey Through Our Most Divided Landscape, which explores the changes in the American West, is now out in paperback.

LoteriaJuly 9: In Lotería: A Novel, Mario Alberto Zambrano uses a piece of Mexican culture to convey the story of one family’s tragedy.

July 16: Reporter Nola Céspedes, who first appeared in Joy Castro’s Hell or High Water, is back in Nearer Home, investigating the murder of her former journalism professor.

Rebozos_jacket-webAwards:

• The 2013 International Latino Book Award winners include Carmen Tafolla’s Rebozos, Leila Cobo’s The Second Time We Met, Pat Mora’s The Beautiful Lady: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Malin Alegria’s Border Town #1: Crossing the Line, Joy Castro’s Island of Bones, the Las Comadres Para Las Americas anthology Count on Me: Tales of Sisterhood and Fierce Friendships and Reyna Grande’s The Distance Between Us.

AristotleDante• Winners of the 25th annual Lambda Literary Awards, according to The Wall Street Journal, include Cherrie Moraga, who received the Pioneer Award, and Benjamin Alire Saenz, who won awards for his books, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

• Puerto Rican Eduardo Lalo won the 2013 International Rómulo Gallegos Prize for Fiction, one of Latin America’s most prestigious literary awards.

Writing conferences:

• The Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference will take place Oct. 5 at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, N.Y. The event will include panelists and one-on-one sessions with agents and editors.

Writing contests:

Lee & Low Books has opened submissions for its New Voices Award, given to an unpublished children’s book written by a writer of color. Deadline is Sept. 1.

Other features:

The new website Latinas for Latino Literature have created a summer reading program for children. NPR focused on the issue of diversity in children’s literature, and Publishers Weekly noted the First Book organization is trying to expand the market with The Stories for All Project.

La Casa Azul Bookstore, the East Harlem, N.Y., bookstore run by Aurora Anaya Cerda that specializes in Latino literature, has had a busy summer. It celebrated its first anniversary in June, was honored by The White House for its crowdfunding efforts and was featured in Fox News Latino.

The latest investigation into the death of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda may have found a potential killer, says ABC News.

Alisa Valdes has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the movie version of her novel The Dirty Girls Social Club.

• Publishing Perspectives profiled El Paso-based Cinco Puntos Press, which publishes books by Benjamin Alire Saenz and Joe Hayes.

• The San Antonio Express-News covered a celebration by Tony Diaz’s Librotraficantes that stopped an anti-ethnic studies bill in the Texas Legislature this spring.

• Some news about Carlos FuentesThe FBI had a dossier on the Mexican novelist, reports the Los Angeles Times, and his books are now available on e-readers, according to Publishers Weekly.

Sandra Cisneros discussed Latinos in entertainment and other topics on NBC Latino’s Cafecito.

Alex Espinoza, author of The Five Acts of Diego Leon, talked to the LA Review of Books.

• NPR profiled children’s singer and author Jose Luis Orozco.

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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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In the news: New releases by Arana, Rodriguez, García

May brings out plenty of books, ranging from historical biographies and fiction to new novels from Linda Rodriguez and Cristina García.

Bolivar-1003Already out: Bolivar: American Liberator by Marie Arana, author of American Chica: Two Worlds, One Childhood, explores the life of one of South America’s most iconic figures. Arana talked about the book to NPR and The Huffington Post.

• In the novel The Ingenious Gentleman and Poet Federico Garcia Lorca Ascends to Hell, Carlos Rojas imagines the Spanish poet in hell.

AutobiographyofmyHungersMay 6: Rigoberto González explores his life in a series of essays in Autobiography of My Hungers.

May 7: Pura Belpré Award-winning author Duncan Tonatiuh uses immigration as an allegory for his children’s picture book, Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale. The book was featured in US News and World Report.

every+broken+trust• Linda Rodriguez is back with detective Skeet Bannion, who is solving a series of murders and her own personal problems in Every Broken Trust.

• In Amy Tintera’s young adult novel Reboot, Texas teenagers are forced to be slaves. Here’s the trailer, which was posted on Entertainment Weekly, and an interview in Latina magazine.

IAmVenusMay 16: Spanish painter Diego Velázquez becomes intrigued with one of his subjects in Barbara Mujica‘s novel I Am Venus.

May 21: In the Cristina García novel King of Cuba, a Cuban exile living in Florida is determined to get rid of a Fidel Castro-like figure.

MidnightinMexicoMay 30: Journalist Alfredo Corchado describes life in his native country in Midnight in Mexico: A Reporter’s Journey Through a Country’s Descent into Darkness.

June 4: Three pre-teens go back to the time of the Mayans in the Matt de la Pena book Infinity Ring: Curse of the Ancients, part of the Infinity Ring series.

Awards:

The nominees for the 2013 International Latino Book Awards have been announced. Nominated authors include Joy Castro, Leila Cobo, Reyna Grande, Linda Rodriguez and Gwendolyn Zepeda, as well as the anthology Count On Me: Tales of Sisterhood and Fierce Friendships.

Junot Díazs This Is How You Lose Her is up for the American Library Association’s Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. The winner will be announced in June.

Events:

• The Spanish language LeaLA book fair will take place May 17-20, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Other features:

The remains of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda are being examined to see if he was poisoned, according to The Daily Beast.

Rosemary Catacalos has been named the first Latina Texas State Poet Laureate, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Gwendolyn Zepeda was named the city of Houston’s first poet laureate.

Isabel Allende, author of the newly released Maya’s Notebook, shared her reading habits with The New York Times and the five books that most influenced her to The Daily Beast.

Alex Espinoza, author of The Five Acts of Diego León, talked to NPR about how Tomas Rivera’s book … And The Earth Did Not Devour Him influenced him. He also discussed his book to the Los Angeles Times.

• Also in the Times, Dagoberto Gilb talked to Héctor Tobar about his literary magazine, Huizache, and the Latino Lit scene.

Manuel Ramos discussed his novel, Desperado: A Mile High Noir, to the Denver newspaper Westword.

Alisa Valdes is releasing a chapter a day of her book Puta.

• Eight Latino poets shared their favorite poems to NBC Latino.

• NPR covered the popularity of Venezuelan novels and visited the Ciudad Juarez club that inspired Benjamin Alire Saenz’s award-winning book, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club.

The New Yorker published a short story by the late Roberto Bolaño.

• Here’s a few interesting podcasts: Junot Díaz and Francisco Goldman at a Radio Ambulante podcast in February and a few events from the Lorca in New York festivities.

• California Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera gave his playlist to alt.latino website on NPR.

• Got an ereader? Now you can download Sandra Cisneros’ books on there, according to Publishers Weekly.

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Classic book review: Sandra Cisneros’ “The House on Mango Street”

HouseonMangoStreetSandra Cisneros’ 1984 novel The House on Mango Street (Vintage) is just 110 pages long. It doesn’t have a sweeping plot. It’s a collection of interlinking stories about a young girl, Esperanza, her family and her neighbors. It’s the little details about everyday life that have made the book the classic that it is today.

I first read Mango Street more than 15 years ago, and I distinctly remember one line from the book, from the chapter called “My Name”: “In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters.”

I’ve missed Cisneros’ work. It has been 10 years since her last novel, Caramelo, was released. Last year, I read Women Hollering Creek, a collection of short stories from 1992, and just as I reread Mango Street, I remembered why Cisneros is such a beautiful writer. The conversations sound like she has been eavesdropping on your family and she makes commonplace objects sound extraordinary, almost poetic. Take this passage from the chapter “Hairs”:

“Everybody in our family has different hair. My Papa’s hair is like a broom, all up in the air. And me, my hair is lazy. It never obeys barrettes or bands. … But my mother’s hair, my mother’s hair, like little rosettes, like little candy circles all curly and pretty because she pinned it in pincurls all day, sweet to put your nose into when she is holding you, holding you and you feel safe, is the warm smell of bread before you bake it, is the smell when she make room for you on her side of the bed still warm with her skin, and you sleep near her, the rain outside falling and Papa snoring.”

Or this line from “Hips”:

“One day your wake up and they are there. Ready and waiting like a new Buick with the keys in the ignition. Ready to take you where?”

Many of the stories deal with universal adolescence angst. But several of the stories – including a thread about Sally, a beautiful girl who ends up married before eighth grade – show a gritty reality that is part of Esperanza’s tough Chicago neighborhood.

Mango Street is easy to read and relate to – there’s little wonder that it’s now part of the high school literary canon. It’s the only Latino book on the PBS’ The American Novel series and NPR’s 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels.

Cisneros released a book Have You Seen Marie? last year, but it was much too brief. Here’s hoping that a new Cisneros book will be published soon.

scisnerosMore about Sandra Cisneros:

Sandra Cisneros grew up in Chicago. She has won fellowships from the National Endowment of Arts and the MacArthur Foundation. She also founded The Macondo Foundation writer’s group.

Source: I purchased this book.

This book is the latest in my series of classic Latino novels. Up next: The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo.

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