Monthly Archives: April 2012

In the news: April showers new books, awards and other news

New releases:

• Several Latino-oriented books are coming out in the next few weeks. Gustavo Arellano explores Americans’ fascination with Mexican food in Taco USA, which will be available this Tuesday. Read an excerpt here.

• Four interweaving stories, from South America to Boston, form the plot of Differential Equations by Julian Iragorri and Lou Aronica, out April 16.

Dagoberto Gilb’s “Uncle Rock” will be featured in the The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2012 anthology, which will be published April 17.

Julia Alvarez’s new book, A Wedding in Haiti, out April 24, describes her experiences in that country before and after the 2010 earthquake. Also coming out that week is Roberto Bolaño’s The Secret of Evil, a collection of short stories, and Alisa Valdes’ The Temptation, the first in a supernatural trilogy.

Awards:

• Several Latinos were named as finalists in ForeWord Reviews’ Book of the Year contest, honoring books from independent publishers. Lyn DiIorio’s Outside the Bones made the Fiction-Literary list. Sergio Troncoso’s (left) Crossing Borders earned a spot in the Essays category and From This Wicked Patch of Dust made the Fiction-Multicultural list, as did Richard Yañez’s Cross Over Water and Rudolfo Anaya’s Randy Lopez Goes Home.

Troncoso’s From This Wicked Patch of Dust was also nominated in the Reading the West Book Awards in the Adult Fiction category. Emerita Romero-Anderson was nominated in the children’s category for Milagro of the Spanish Bean Pot.

Book festivals:

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, running April 20-21, will feature a plethora of authors, including Gustavo Arellano, Kami Garcia (left), José-Luis Orozco, Héctor Tobar and Luis Alberto Urrea. Rudolfo Anaya will be honored with a lifetime achievement award.

Writing workshops:

April 15 is the deadline to sign up for the National Latino Writers Conference May 16-19 at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. Teachers include Jimmy Santiago Baca, Cristina García and Rigoberto González (right).

Body art by Mia Roman. Photographed by Johnny Ramos.

Other bits:

The New York Daily News profiled Aurora Anaya-Cerda’s (right) building of the Latino-oriented La Casa Azul bookstore in East Harlem, slated for a spring opening. Check out her progress on her Facebook page.

The Daily News also profiled poet Nuyorican poet Bonafide Rojas.

The Daily Show covered the Arizona ban on Latino-themed books and ethnic studies as only The Daily Show could.

Publishers Weekly had a nice write-up about Pat Mora’s Día: El día de los niños/El día de los libros, Children’s Day/Book.

Sergio Troncoso previews his panel, “Latino Literature, Then and Now,” to the Texas Library Association’s annual conference April 17-19 in Houston.

The Austin American-Statesman featured the Austin Latino New Play Festival.

 

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Filed under 2012 Books, Awards, Children's Books, Events, Fiction, News, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Theater

Happy Birthday, Gabriela Mistral!

Poet Gabriela Mistral was born on this day in 1889 in Vicuña, Chile, and died in 1956. She is the only Latina – and one of a dozen Latinos – to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Her first books covered mourning the loss of loved ones – Sonetos de la muerte, released in 1914 and inspired by the death of her lover, and Desolación (Despair), published in 1922. But the former schoolteacher is best known for her poems that touch on the subjects of children and motherhood, such as in the book Ternura (Tenderness).

Her legacy lives on in the Gabriela Mistral Foundation, which funds grants to Chilean children in need. Mistral is even the subject of her own children’s book, My Name Is Gabriela: The Life of Gabriela Mistral, written by Monica Brown.

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Filed under Author Profiles, Poetry

Book review: Robert Andrew Powell’s “This Love is Not for Cowards”

Robert Andrew Powell’s This Love is Not for Cowards: Salvation and Soccer in Ciudad Juárez revolves around two of Mexico’s most prominent subjects – its love for soccer and its dangerous drug trade.

Los Indios are the minor league soccer team near El Paso that scored a huge coup in 2009 – they have been accepted into the major leagues. This provides the people of Juárez a glimmer of hope as murders and violence become an everyday occurrence.

Powell describes the moment the team won the game that led to the promotion: “Players climbed onto the roof of their bus as young women danced in blue jeans and form-fitting red Indios jerseys tied at the waist. La gente, the people, proved to be bigger than the cartels. The city showed it was more than just violence.”

The book features several characters – Marco Vidal, the American who comes to Mexico so he can play the sport he loves; Francisco Ibarra, the team’s owner who lives in El Paso and has applied for American citizenship; and the cheekily named Ken-tokey, the student who belongs to the cheekily named El Kartel, the  booster club that supports and travels with the club.

Los Indios soon finds that playing in the major leagues isn’t so easy. But as Powell notes, “It’s been nice, for a while, to be in the fold, to be a city all of Mexico has to acknowledge is indeed in Mexico. However fleeing the coverage on ESPN Deportes, Juárez was still on ESPN Deportes.”

Powell is great at detailing the violence the surrounds the city and describing its land and its people. He also has an interesting chapter about the deaths of the women in Juárez that has drawn much media attention.

But the book’s strength is also its greatest weakness. Powell overdescribes things – even revealing the toppings of the pizza he eats at a restaurant. (Who cares?) The book starts to drag in the last 100 pages and, at times, I thought the story would have been better as a long article in Rolling Stone or The New Yorker than as a 256-page book.

Still, the book is an intriguing look at Juárez, providing a human face to a city that has been forsaken by so many.

More about Robert Andrew Powell:

Powell has written for The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and other magazines, as well the book We Own This Game. Read an excerpt from Love here.

Source: I purchased this book through Amazon.com.

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Filed under 2012 Books, Book Reviews, Non-Fiction

In the news: Honors for Herrera, Tafolla, Brown, Sanchez

• April events:

Happy April! It’s a busy month for literary events. April marks National Poetry Month and two prominent Latino poets have earned the title of Poet Laureate for their places of residence. Juan Felipe Herrera, right, was named California’s first Latino Poet Laureate. Carmen Tafolla earned that same title from the city of San Antonio.

April is also the month Pat Mora is celebrating Díapalooza, leading up to the April 30 Día: El día de los niños/El día de los libros, Children’s Day/Book. The website includes tons of ideas to celebrate the day, as well as list of author and illustrator ambassadors. The event also inspired the book Book Fiesta!

Awards:

Monica Brown won a Christopher Award, which is given to artists “whose work affirms the highest values of the human spirit,” for her book, Waiting for the Biblioburro.

Alex Sanchez’s (right) young adult novel Boyfriends With Girlfriends and Jeanne Córdova’s When We Were Outlaws: A Memoir of Love & Revolution received nominations from the Lambda Literary Awards, which honors gay-lesbian-bisexual-trangendered works. Other nominated books include Gay Latino Studies: A Critical Reader, edited by Michael Hames-García and Ernesto Javier Martínez, and ¡Venceremos?: The Erotics of Black Self-making in Cuba, by Jafari S. Allen. Winners will be announced in June.

Caridad Piñeiro’s The Lost was nominated for a RITA Award from the Romance Writers of America in the Paranormal Category. Winners will be announced in July.

Author Notes:

Charles Rice-Gonzalez was profiled in The New York Daily News.

Dagoberto Gilb read his works at a recent PEN Faulkner Foundation event.

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Filed under Awards, Children's Books, News, Poetry