Tag Archives: Sofia Quintero

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.

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Book review: Las Comadres Para Las Americas’ “Count on Me: Tales of Sisterhoods and Fierce Friendships”

Count On Me: Tales of Sisterhoods and Fierce Friendships (Atria) is the perfect gift to give to your best friend.

The book of essays was put together by the non-profit association Las Comadres Para Las Americas and edited by Adriana V. Lopez. In a dozen essays, 11 prominent Latinas – plus Luis Alberto Urrea – talk about the power of female friendship. Some of the friends make extraordinary gestures. Carolina de Robertis, author of Perla, edits a deceased friend’s book. A teacher offers shelter to Reyna Grande, in an excerpt from her memoir The Distance Between Us, after she faces a bad family situation. Lorraine López receives advice from writer Judith Ortiz Cofer to pursue her literary career – leading to such books as The Realm of Hungry Spirits.

But two of the best essays are those that acknowledge that a best friend can often be your worst enemy. In “Anarchy Chicks,” Michelle Herrera Mulligan describes how adolescent friends go weeks without talking to each other, then become best friends again with a single phone call. In “The Miranda Manual,” Sofia Quintero nails all the subtle gestures and actions that can destroy a relationship:

“There were no betrayals or putdowns, no angry emails or shouting matches, breaches of confidences or rehashing of past misdeeds. Neither of us committed a gross act of deliberate hurt against the other. Rather, we engaged in tiny yet relentless acts of thoughtless toward each other. The little digs, constant interruptions and the passive listening typical of mere acquaintances that’s easy to ignore. When the person is usually mindful and considerate best friend, it hurts like hell.”

Most of the essays are excellent. Dr. Ana Nogales’ essay is too general to make an emotional impact, but she describes the health benefits to friendships. But Teresa Rodríguez sums up the power of friendship in her essay about activist Esther Chávez Cano:

You see, a comadre is not necessarily a close friend, but a person whose example is etched in your heart. The one you’d like to emulate, that friend who gave so much of herself and asked for nothing in return.

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher.

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In the News: New releases, writer’s workshop and García Márquez

Hello August! Here are great selections to beat the heat:

• Already released: Gustavo Arellano and Luis Alberto Urrea are among the writers who contributed to Ban This! The BSP Anthology of Xican@ Literature, edited by S.J. Rivera. The book was published in response to the state of Arizona’s ban on ethnic studies earlier this year.

• Now in paperback: Esmeralda Santiago’s Conquistadora, which was selected as Ladies’ Home Journal’s August Book of the Month (here’s a discussion guide and letter from Santiago); Paulo Coelho’s Aleph; Maria Duenas The Time in Between and Javier Sierra’s The Lost Angel.

Alisa Valdes has a new erotic e-novel out called Puta. You can read the first two chapters for free on Amazon.

Aug. 28: Reyna Grande writes about immigrating from Mexico to California in her memoir, The Distance Between Us.

Sept. 4: Count on Me: Tales of Sisterhoods and Fierce Friendships features an all-star list of Latinas –Santiago, Grande, Sofia Quintero, Carolina De Robertis, Lórraine Lopez writing about the importance of female friendships. The book was produced by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club and edited by Adriana V. López.

Writer’s Workshop

Speaking of Las Comadres, the organization will host a writer’s workshop Oct. 6 in New York City. Speakers include Sesame Street actress and children’s book writer Sonia Manzano, left, as well as Lyn DiIorio, and Caridad Pineiro.

In other news:

• Sad News: It’s been confirmed that Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Márquez,  right, can no longer write due to dementia, according to The New York Times. The Daily Beast/Newsweek ran an interesting blog post about his writing process.

Bless Me Ultima author Rudolfo Anaya was honored by the city of El Paso as the movie version of the book is expected to premiere in September, reports the El Paso Times.

• Poets and Writers magazine profiled the Librotraficante movement. Its founder, Tony Díaz is planning a “50 for Freedom of Speech” teach-in in all 50 states Sept. 21.

Joy Castro talked about her novel, Hell or High Water, to Book Page.

Mexican-American poet Manuel Paul Lopez of El Centro, Calif., was featured in a KCET animated short about his chapbook, “1984,” which is his interpretation of the classic George Orwell novel.

Junot Díaz discussed his short story, “The Cheater’s Guide to Love,” to The New Yorker. The story is included in his book, This is How You Lose Her, out on Sept. 11.

Diana Gabaldon will see her Outlander books made into a TV series, according to the Word & Film website.

• A recent edition of the NPR radio program “Latino USA” took a look at Luis Alfaro’s new play, “Bruja,” and got reading recommendations from Aurora Anaya Cerda, owner of La Casa Azul Bookstore in East Harlem, N.Y.

• A new literary prize for works written in Spanish will be named after the late Carlos Fuentes, reports Publishing Perspectives.

• Celebrating birthdays this month: Jorge Luis Borges on Aug. 24.

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A look at Afro-Latino writers

February marks Black History Month. Here is a look at some prominent Afro-Latino authors:

Veronica Chambers, who is of Panamanian and Costa Rican-Jamaican descent, has written the Marisol and Magdalena series about two Latina tweenagers. She also wrote about her experiences as an Afro-Latina in this Essence article.

• Dominican Junot Díaz, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, talked about growing up Afro-Latino to Fox News Latino.

• The late Nicolás Guillén, known for his poems about social justice that he wrote in the 1920s and 1930s, was the national poet of Cuba. He will be honored at Cuba’s International Book Fair Feb. 9-19.

• Brazilian author Paulo Lins wrote the 1997 novel City of God, which became a 2002 Academy Award-nominated movie. He talked to the Hispanic News website about growing up in the poor neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro with blacks and immigrants.

Sofia Quintero has written the Black Armetis hip hop series and other novels, such as Divas Don’t Yield and Efrain’s Secret. In this 2009 article with The UBS.com, which also features other black Latino writers, she talks about her Puerto Rican-Dominican heritage.

• Puerto Rican-Cuban-American poet Piri Thomas, who died last year, wrote the classic Down These Mean Streets, about his life growing up in Spanish Harlem. The New York Times had a great obituary.

The blog Writing to Insanity has a great list of other Afro-Latino writers, as does The Woynigi Blog. Latina magazine has good coverage of the Afro-Latina community. And other celebrities, such as Soledad O’Brien, discussed their Afro-Latino heritage in this video.

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In the news: Stork, writer’s contests, Cisneros, Urrea

New releases:

Irises, the newest book by Mexican-American writer Francisco X. Stork, was released earlier this month. The young adult book focuses on two young sisters grappling with their father’s death and their mother’s illness.

Contests:

Speaking of Stork, writers can have their middle school or young adult book critiqued by the author if they win the Book Wish Foundation contest. Contestants must submit a 500-word essay by Feb. 1 based on Stork’s essay in the book, What You Wish For, a series of short stories and poems by prominent authors. The book, whose proceeds benefit refugee camps in Chad, also includes works by Sofia Quintero and Gary Soto, as well as Alexander McCall Smith, Meg Cabot and Joyce Carol Oates.

• Here’s a great opportunity for Latino writers who live in San Antonio: the city is looking for a poet laureate. Submissions must be turned in by Jan. 18.

Library News:

• Congratulations to San Francisco Public Library’s city librarian Luis Herrera, who was named Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year.

Writer’s workshops:

Jan. 15 is the deadline to apply for a scholarship to the Las Dos Brujas Writers’ Workshop. The workshop takes place June 3-9 in Taos, New Mexico, and will feature Cristina García, Martín Espada and Denise Chávez.

The Texas Observer published a terrific article about Sandra Cisneros’ Macondo Foundation, visiting Mexico.

New column:

Luis Alberto Urrea, left, has a new column for Orion magazine. In a podcast of the column, he talks about an old job cleaning toilets.

 

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