Tag Archives: Dagoberto Gilb

In the news: Arizona, Bolaño and a story from Cuba

Arizona:

Starting this week, several books by Latino authors can no longer be used in classes in the Tucson, Arizona, school district so the district could keep millions of dollars in funding after the state banned ethnic studies. The blog Remezcla profiles the books, including Occupied America: A History of Chicanos by Rodolfo F. Acuña and Critical Race Theory: An Introduction by Richard Delgado. (Héctor Tobar wrote about Acuña in the Los Angeles Times last year.) Salon, the online magazine, published a good overview about the issue. In this article from the Indian Country website, teachers and students talk about how the ban has affected them. The news was the topic of discussion between writers Dagoberto Gilb and S.J. Rivera on the Nuestra Palabra radio show, which you can find on its Facebook page.

Roberto Bolaño

The New Yorker has a short story called “Labyrinth” by the late Roberto Bolaño in its current issue. The website included an interview with one of his editors, Willing Davidson, and includes a mention of Francisco Goldman.

Cuban refugess

• Here’s an interesting article from the Marin Independent-Journal about a woman who found out about her family’s heritage through Cuban author Carlos Eire’s 2010 book, Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy. NPR profiled Eire when the book first come out.

This post was updated to include a link to Bolaño’s short story.

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Literary magazines for Latinos

Latino writers have found a home at Huizache magazine.

The recently released publication is one of the few literary magazines devoted to the works of Hispanic writers. Huizache features the works of nearly a dozen Latino authors. Sandra Cisneros has a terrific essay about meeting her idol, tango composer Astor Piazzolla. Lorraine López and Estella Gonzalez contribute short stories. Gary Soto, José Montoya and Benjamin Alire Sáenz wrote poems.

Huizache is a literary magazine produced by CentroVictoria, the Center for Mexican American Literature and Culture at the University of Houston-Victoria. Dagoberto Gilb serves as the center’s executive director, and Diana López is the magazine’s editor. The center also produces the Made in Texas teacher’s guide, which features lesson plans in Mexican American literature.

Huizache editors said they hope to produce it annually, according to this Victoria Advocate article. You can order the magazine for $10 here.

Here are some other literary magazines devoted to Latino literature:

The Acentos Review comes out online four times a year. Its upcoming issue is devoted to Hispanic elders.

• The online Aztlán Reads, which calls itself “a database of Xicana/o Studies fiction and non-fiction work,” features poems, short stories, author interviews, giveaways and news about literary events.

Palabra, which bills itself as “a magazine of Chicano & Latino literary art,” is a yearly print magazine that intends “to present an eclectic and adventurous array of thought and construct, alma y corazón, and a few carcajadas woven in for good measure.”

• The online Somos en escrito features a novel in progress, poetry and other works by Hispanics.

3 Comments

Filed under Features

Best of 2011

At the end of the year, critics, bloggers and anyone else who wants to makes their own “best of” list, so I decided to make my own Latino literature favorites for 2011. Keep in mind that I started my blog in August, so I missed out on some books, such as Lorraine López’s The Realm of Hungry Spirits and Jon Michaud’s When Tito Loved Clara, and I’m keeping the list to just five books instead of the usual ten. Here are the books I loved the most from 2011:

• Francisco Goldman’s Say Her Name was a riveting love story – loosely based on his own marriage to writer Aura Estrada – that covered the beginning of their relationship to her death in a swimming accident. This book will break your heart.

• Héctor Tobar’s The Barbarian Nurseries was a fast-paced, unputdownable novel about an undocumented maid who is thrust in the middle of an immigration debate when she is left alone with her boss’s children. The book has great description, strong characters and terrific observations about politics. It’s a shame this book didn’t receive more attention.

• Although I consider myself an avid reader, how did I not discover the awesomeness that is Luis Alberto Urrea until this year? I absolutely loved his 2005 book The Hummingbird’s Daughter, a funny, beautiful novel about a woman who discovers her healing powers in revolutionary Mexico. Her father, Don Tomas, just may be one of the best literary characters ever. The 2011 sequel, Queen of America, shows Teresita coping with her success. The tone is more somber than Daughter and there’s not enough Don Tomas, but the book is still pretty terrific.

• Sergio Troncoso wrote two books this year – a book of essays, Crossing Borders, and a novel, From This Wicked Patch of Dust – both of which draw on his experiences of living on the Texas-Mexico border. I liked Borders for its riveting essays on family dynamics and relationships – and it’s unusual to see a male author talk about work-life balance. His works deserve a larger audience.

• Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa’s Becoming Dr. Q is a fascinating look at one man’s journey from an undocumented immigrant from Mexico to one of the top brain surgeons in the United States.

I also liked Justin Torres’s We the Animals, Dagoberto Gilb’s Before the End, After the Beginning and Lyn Di Iorio’s Outside the Bones. For my non-Latino books, I loved Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain and State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.

What were your favorite 2011 books? Post in the comments.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2011 Books

In the News

Year in Review: Junot Díaz and Justin Torres recommended their favorite books of 2011 to New York magazine, while Héctor Tobar and Torres gave their choices for the year’s best in Salon and Julia Alvarez revealed her picks to the Algonquin Books blog. Book editor Marcela Landres made her own best of 2011 list, including Outside the Bones by Lyn Di Iorio and Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall. The Washington Post cited Esmeralda Santiago’s Conquistadora and Justin Torres’s We the Animals as some of its favorite 2011 novels. But why stop at 2011? Dagoberto Gilb named his favorite books of all time in The Week magazine.

New releases: A paperback of Purgatory by the late Tómas Eloy Martinez, who was born in Argentina and lived in Venezuala, was released last month.

• A library in honor of Mexican writer Juan Jose Arreola is being constructed in Mexico City, with the opening expected for spring 2012. The library organization Reforma posted some pictures of the building on their Facebook page.

• According to this BBC article, the remains of legendary Nobel winning poet Pablo Neruda, pictured at left, have been asked to be exhumed to see if he was poisoned.

• Luis Alberto Urrea appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered to talk about his latest novel, Queen of America, which he describes as his “Lady Gaga book.”

Leave a comment

Filed under 2011 Books, News

Book review: Dagoberto Gilb’s “Before the End, After the Beginning”

In his collection of short stories, Before the End, After the Beginning, Dagoberto Gilb uses ordinary men to talk about the big issues of our time.

Gilb tackles the economy, the immigration hysteria in Arizona and the painfulness of life in these ten short stories. Gilb knows the last subject all too well – in 2009, the Texan suffered a stroke. His best story, “please, thank you,” is about a man who is recovering from a stroke. The narrator, who does not use capitalization or most punctuation, describes how the nurses help him through his excruciating therapy.

“i do exercises on the padded table. stretches of the calves. then the quads. then i get on my stomach. i am supposed to lift my foot and calf ninety degrees, starting with the left. nothing, easy. when i try my right, its like nothing connects the two leg bones but kneecap. my calf flops on either side of my body. it doesnt hurt, theres no physical pain, but inside me, silently, it might be the worst indignity yet, so hard I cant cry or rage. its as though I have been slugged very hard and the pain hasn’t checked in.”

In his other stories, Gilb writes about ordinary guys caught up in complicated situations, sometimes through no fault of their own – a man looking for work who stays with his mysterious aunt; a family celebrating a child’s birthday amidst crime in the neighborhood; and a musician who doesn’t like the way a contractor treats the employees hired to paint his home. Gilb writes in simple prose that is as unpretentious as his characters. The reader gets caught up in these people’s lives, hoping that the character doesn’t suffer too much.

In a few of the stories, the main character seems to get in some sort of trouble with the police, making these stories seem a bit repetitive. It would have been nice to see a couple of more humorous stories like “Uncle Rock,” in which a boy goes to his first baseball game. But, overall, these stories are a pleasure to read.

@font-face { font-family: “Cambria”; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }

More about Dagoberto Gilb:

• Gilb will tour several Texas cities with Aztec Muse magazine editor Tony Diaz. They’ll be in San Antonio Wednesday; Dallas, Thursday-Friday; and Houston, Nov. 16-17.

• The San Antonio Express-News ran an interview with Gilb about the book.

1 Comment

Filed under 2011 Books, Book Reviews

In the news

Puerto Rican/Cuban-American poet Piri Thomas (pictured at left) passed away last week. His book, Down These Mean Streets, described his life growing up in Spanish Harlem and became a staple in classrooms, according to this New York Times obituary.

• Here’s the round-up in book festivals this coming weekend:

Luis Alberto Urrea will speak at the Louisiana Book Festival Saturday in Baton Rouge.

The Dallas International Book Festival, on Saturday, will feature novelist Esmeralda Santiago (pictured at right), children’s author Lucia Gonzalez, young adult author Ray Villareal and poet Joaquin Zihuatanejo.

The 31st Annual Book Fair of Santiago will run from Friday-Nov. 13 if you just so happen to be in Chile.

• Monday will be a big day for Arte Publico Press – it’s releasing several children’s and young adult books that day. The titles are: Don’t Call Me a Hero by Ray Villareal; The Lemon Tree Caper: A Mickey Rangel Mystery by René Saldana Jr.; ¡A Bailar! Let’s Dance! by Judith Ortiz Cofer and illustrated by Christina Ann Rodriguez; Clara and the Curandera by Monica Brown and illustrated by Thelma Muraida; and Adelita and the Veggie Cousins by Diane Gonzales Bertrand and illustrated by Christina Rodriguez.

Dagoberto Gilb, whose short story collection Before the End, After the Beginning comes out Tuesday, will tour several Texas cities with Aztec Muse magazine editor Tony Diaz. They’ll be in San Antonio Nov. 2; Dallas, Nov. 3-4; and Houston, Nov. 16-17. The Texas Observer covered his speech at last week’s Texas Book Festival, as well as Sergio Troncoso’s and Richard Yanez’s discussion about El Paso literature. (Scroll down the page for the articles.) Texas Monthly also excerpted a story in its latest issue. The Hispanic Reader will post a review of his book next week.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2011 Books, Author Profiles, Children's Books, Events, News, Young Adult Books

In the news

• New on the bookshelves: Kami Garcia’s latest book, Beautiful Chaos, part of her Beautiful Creatures series written with Margaret Stohl, comes out Tuesday. Cain, a retelling of the Biblical story from the late, Nobel Prize-winning novelist José Saramago, was released earlier this month.

• The Texas Book Festival, which runs from Saturday-Sunday in Austin, will feature 250 authors, and it features some great programs with Latino authors:

Dagoberto Gilb (pictured at right) will discuss his latest book, Before the End, After the Beginning.

Mary Romero, author of the non-fiction The Maid’s Daughter: Living Inside and Outside the American Dream, and Héctor Tobar, author of The Barbarian Nurseries, will discuss Mexican women working as maids in the United States.

Sarah Cortez, René Saldaña, Jr., Sergio Troncoso and Gwendolyn Zepeda will talk about the mysteries they contributed to the Arte Publico Press book for young adults, You Don’t Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens.

Alex Sanchez (pictured at left), author of Bait, will receive the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award.

Troncoso and Richard Yanez will discuss stories from their hometown of El Paso. Kami Garcia, Rolando Hinojosa-Smith and Justin Torres will speak at other sessions.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2011 Books, Awards, Events, News

Festival time!

Hispanic authors will be making their mark at book festivals this fall.

The Brooklyn Book Festival begins this weekend, and other festivals across the country will follow in the coming months. The festivals feature readings, question-and-answer panels, and autograph sessions by the writers. Here’s a list (not definitive) of some of the major festivals:

• The Brooklyn Book Festival, which starts Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 15-18, will include Juan Gonzalez, Sigrid Nunez, Esmeralda Santiago (pictured at left) and Justin Torres.

• Esmeralda Santiago will speak at the National Book Festival Sept. 24-25 in Washington, D.C.

• The West Hollywood Book Fair, which takes place Oct. 2, will feature David A. Hernandez, Melinda Palacio, Felice Picano, Héctor Tobar, Justin Torres and Marcos M. Villatoro.

• Julia Alvarez and Carlos Eire are scheduled to speak at the Boston Book Festival Oct. 15.

• The Southern Festival of the Books will take place in Nashville Oct. 14-16. Lisa D. Chavez, Lorraine López, Helena Mesa, Justin Torres (pictured at right) and Marisel Vera are on the schedule.

• The Texas Book Festival, which runs from Oct. 22-23 in Austin, will feature Sarah Cortez, Kami Garcia, Dagoberto Gilb, Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, Artemio Rodriguez, Mary Romero, René Saldaña, Jr., Alex Sanchez, Hector Tobar, Justin Torres, Sergio Troncoso, and Richard Yañez – not to mention 250 other writers. Wow! Just goes to show, everything is bigger and better in Texas.

• Sadly, the Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival, which was scheduled for Oct. 8-9, has been canceled due to budget issues.

• Luis Urrea (pictured at left) will speak at the Louisiana Book Festival Oct. 29 in Baton Rouge.

• The Miami Book Fair Festival International takes place Nov. 13-20. A list of authors had not been posted on its website yet.

1 Comment

Filed under Events

A look at fall books

Many publications have released their list of “hot fall books,” and Hispanic authors are nowhere to be seen.

They’re not on BookPage’s list. Not on the Atlantic’s list. Not on New York’s list. This is odd, since there are some interesting books coming out by Hispanic authors this fall. They include:

Justin Torres’s We the Animals, about three boys raised by a Puerto Rican father and a white mother, is already out. He has gotten a lot of media attention, as noted by Syracuse.com, and the Shelf Awareness e-newsletter.

 

 

Ariel Dorfman, the author of Death and the Maiden, writes about his life after the 1973 Chilean coup in Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of a Unrepetent Exile. The book will be released in September.

 

 

• Ballet dancer Jock Soto, who is half Puerto Rican and half American Indian, discusses his life and career in Every Step You Take, out in October.

 

 

 

The Barbarian Nurseries, coming out in October, centers on a Los Angeles family and their Mexican maid. Author Hector Tobar, whose parents are Guatemalan, writes a column for The Los Angeles Times. (And kudos to More magazine, which put the novel on its fall books list.)

 

 

• Texan Dagoberto Gilb’s collection of short stories, Before the End, After the Beginning, comes out in November.

 

 

 

• Mexican-American Luis Alberto Urrea will release Queen of America, his sequel to The Hummingbird’s Daughter, in December.

Do you notice something missing from this list? Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any books coming out from Latinas. If you know of any other fall books, let me know at Hispanicreader (at) gmail (dot) com.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2011 Books

Meet Screenwriter Alvaro Rodriguez

Alvaro Rodriguez is the pen behind a border-set exploitation film, a frenetic kids’ movie and a vampire western, among others.

Rodriguez co-wrote the screenplay for this year’s hit movie, Machete, as well as 2009’s Shorts, and 1999’s From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter. An avid movie buff, he is also presenting classic Mexican movies at film festivals this fall in the Rio Grande Valley, where he grew up and now lives.

Rodriguez, a University of Texas at Austin graduate, worked as a newspaper reporter before embarking on his screenwriting career. He is a cousin of Robert Rodriguez, who directed El Mariachi, Grindhouse, and Spy Kids.

Q: How has the success of Machete and other Rodriguez films helped other Hispanics? Will this encourage Hollywood to look at more Hispanic screenwriters?

A: Machete was a moderate success — it certainly created a buzz and looks to spawn a sequel or two, so that’s a positive thing. I’m hopeful that it will encourage more Latino-driven movies to be made, and frankly, they’re out there and they’re coming soon. I don’t attribute that to Machete itself, but to the time being right for more Latino-themed stories and Latino storytellers getting recognition and making films. I think you also have to acknowledge the success of the Spy Kids series of films that Robert wrote and directed as something that opened doors and made entry seem possible.

Q: What can be done to encourage more Hispanic screenwriters?

A: The most encouraging thing for young Hispanic writers and screenwriters out there right now is knowing that a market exists for their work and it is the mainstream. Look at the films we’ve had this year — everything from Lionsgate’s No Eres Tu, Soy Yo to Chris Weisz’s A Better Life, not to mention the success of shows like Modern Family. There is a market for these stories out there, and there are new voices coming to the table all the time. It’s important, too, to tell a good story. “Write what you know” isn’t physical advice but emotional — tell a story with a deeper sense of your own personality and voice.

Q: What Hispanic authors/books have inspired/influenced you?

A: I appreciate stories that are tapestries, labyrinths and sometimes seemingly simple tales that hide a deeper truth, everything from Jorge Luis Borges to Dagoberto Gilb, from Juan Rulfo to Oscar Casares. I recently read a book of bilingual short stories written by David Bowles and Angelica Maldonado, The Seed (Absey and Co, 2011), which was very rich and personal. I’m editing a book of border-set “noir” stories to be published by Valley Artistic Outreach in 2012. Also, I’m presenting a classic Mexican film from the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema in September at the Cinesol Film Festival and at the Museum of South Texas History in October — another rich vein of fascinating material from which to gain inspiration and insight. Hispanic writers can gain so much by looking south of the border to the art and literature of Mexico and beyond. The issues and ideas those writers and filmmakers are exploring have so many correlations to what we experience and what inspires us today.

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Author Q&A, Movies