Monthly Archives: January 2013

In the news: Books from Valdes, Gonzales kick off the new year

Here’s what’s happening in the first month of 2013 (Note: I updated this article to include the Blanco and Valdes links.):

Feminist and the CowboyJust released: In The Feminist and the Cowboy: An Unlikely Love Story, Alisa Valdes recounts her relationship with a man with opposite views. In an intriguing article in Salon, Valdes said the relationship was abusive. In The Tragedy of Fidel Castro, Portuguese writer Joao Cerqueira imagines how Jesus Christ would settle the battle between Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

Ways of Going HomeJan. 8: Chilean Alejandro Zambra depicts life in the Pinochet-era Chile in the novel Ways of Going Home.

Jan. 10: The Miniature Wife and Other Stories is a quirky collection of 18 short stories from Tejano Manuel Gonzales, whose work has appeared in The Believer and Esquire.


Junot Díaz (right) and Francisco Goldman will speak at “A Benefit Evening of Latin American Storytelling,” Feb. 5 in New York City, with proceeds going to Radio Ambulante. Radio Ambulante’s executive producer, Daniel Alarcon, will moderate.

Literary magazines:

• The literary magazine BorderSenses is taking submissions until March 31 for its next issue. The publication will take short stories, poetry and book reviews in English and Spanish, as well as artwork. Write to

Other features:

• Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco will read a poem at President Obama’s inauguration later this month, becoming the first Latino to hold that honor, NPR reports. He was also profiled in The New York Times.

• In a much-discussed article, The New York Times wrote about the lack of Latino-oriented books for children. In a follow-up article, Aurora Anaya-Cerda of La Casa Azul Bookstore in East Harlem, N.Y., gave her reading recommendations. Many small publishers felt they were not represented in the article, and Publishers Weekly featured those presses, including Lee and Low Books and Arte Público.

•  Arte Público books, which recently moved into new headquarters, was recently profiled in The Houston Chronicle.

ABC News/Univision marked the 50th anniversary of the Latin American Boom in literature.

• Book editor Marcela Landres delivered her list of the best in Latino literature for 2012.

Junot Díaz talked with NBC Latino about how he found his literary voice. He also discussed his love for libraries, politics and the greatness of Star Wars on the TV show Moyers & Company.

Joy Castro talked to the Lincoln Journal-Star about the prospect of her 2012 book, Hell or High Water, being optioned by actress Zoe Saldana for a possible movie or TV show.

Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street and Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist are among the 30 selections for World Book Night, in which volunteers will give out books April 23. Sign up to be giver by Jan. 23.

• Cisneros remembered Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, who passed away last year, in The New York Times.

• Chilean Roberto Ampuero, author of The Neruda Case and his country’s ambassador to Mexico, was profiled in The Wall Street Journal.

• The film version of Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima is coming to the big screen, reports the Huffington Post.



Filed under 2013 Books, Fiction, News

Happy new year to 2013 – and new challenges!

Hey, happy new year! After a two-month hiatus, I’m ready to get back into blogging.

I have a couple of goals for the upcoming year. First, I plan to spotlight each country with strong Latin American populations on its independence day – similar to the author profiles I do for writers’ birthdays. I expect July and September to be busy months.

I also plan to do a similar reading challenge as I did last year, which covered classic books from Latinas – except that I haven’t published all of the reviews from that challenge yet. I will wrap up that project in January and February.

This year, I will read classic Latino novels. Here they are:

Some of these books (Ultima, Mango Street, Oscar Wao) will be rereads for me. A few of them will be challenging reads. And some books (The Alchemist, Mambo Kings), I have been meaning to read and never gotten around to it.

I chose the books based on popularity and timelessness. These books are in the high school canon (Ultima, Mango Street), Pulitzer Prize winners (Oscar Wao, Mambo Kings), Nobel Prize winners (One Hundred Years of Solitude, Blindness), beloved best-sellers (The Alchemist) and pop culture favorites (Spider Woman).

Of course, there are some missing books. Where’s the most famous Latino novel of them all, Don Quixote? At 900 pages, I decided it would too challenging to read such a thick tome while trying to keep up with current books. Where’s Roberto Bolaño, Julio Cortázar, Juan Rulfo and Miguel Angel Asturias? Hey, I can’t read everything. The list is subjective.

Of course, the heart of the blog is spotlighting new books by Latino authors. I’m looking forward to The Miniature Wife and Other Stories by Manuel Gonzales, The Five Acts of Diego León by Alex Espinoza, Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina by Raquel Cepeda and King of Cuba by Cristina Gárcia. Unfortunately, many of the books won’t come out until March. So expect to see many of the classic books reviewed in January and February.

It’s easy to get burned out from blogging, especially with a full-time job and the other chores of life (which is why I took a long break). So my other resolution is chill out a little more. If I can only produce one post a week or I need to take some time off, I’m going to do it.

To those who read my blog and comment or retweet my tweets, thanks for your time and comments. I look forward to the new year.


Filed under Features