Tag Archives: Isabel Allende

In the News: New releases from Zepeda, Garcia and Alarcón

October has arrived, and cooler temperatures mean a better excuse to curl up with a good book. Here’s what going on in the world of Latino literature:

FallinginLovewithPrisonersBook releases:

• Already out: Gwendolyn Zepeda’s newest book is a collection of poetry, Falling in Love with Fellow Prisoners, that details her life in the city. In the children’s book Parrots Over Puerto Rico, authors Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore connect the bird with the island’s history.

Kami Garcia/UnbreakableOct. 1: Kami Garcia’s Unbreakable, which is aimed at readers ages 12 and older, features a young girl who is haunted by paranormal activity.

Oct. 3: Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography finds Richard Rodriguez exploring the role of religion in the world.

Maximilian&theBingoRematchOct. 22: Xavier Garza’s newest children’s book is Maximilian & the Bingo Rematch: A Lucha Libre Sequel (Max’s Lucha Libre Adventures), in which a sixth-grader faces several challenges in life and love.

• Oct. 31: In Daniel Alarcón’s At Night We Walk in Circles, a young man touring with a political acting troupe finds himself caught up in his own personal drama.

Literary magazines:

The third edition of Huizache, the literary magazine produced by the University of Houston-Victoria’s Center for Mexican American Literature and Culture, comes out Oct. 15. The issue will include works by Cristina García, Juan Felipe Herrera, Domingo Martinez and Héctor Tobar. The $15 issue can be ordered online.

Book Festivals:

Oct. 5: Librofest in Houston features Sarah Cortez, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Manuel Ramos, René Saldaña Jr. and Gwendolyn Zepeda.

Oct. 26-27: The Texas Book Festival in Austin includes Monica Brown, Alfredo Corchado, Matt de la Peña, Cristina García, Kami Garcia, Xavier Garza, Manuel Gonzales, Duncan Tonatiuh and Mario Alberto Zambrano.

Writing contests:

The National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies—Tejas Foco is sponsoring two contests for writers who have published fiction in 2013 that relate to the Mexican American experience in Texas. Deadline is Dec. 3.

• The new Angela Johnson Scholarship from the Vermont College of Fine Arts will offer $5,000 to writers of color pursuing the school’s master’s degree in Writing for Children & Young Adults.

Alvaro MutisOther features:

Colombian writer Alvaro Mutis, left, the winner of the Cervantes Prize, passed away last month at age 90. Here’s his obituary from the Associated Press, via the Huffington Post; a remembrance from The Guardian; and an 2001 interview with Francisco Goldman from the Bombsite website.

MananaMeansHeaven• Poet and artist Jose Montoya, a former poet laureate for the city of Sacramento, passed away last month at age 81. The Modesto Bee had a obituary, while the Sacramento Bee featured a photo gallery and an editorial.

• The Los Angeles Times ran an obituary for Bea Franco, the woman who inspired “The Mexican Girl” character in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and the new Tim Z. Hernandez novel Mañana Means Heaven.

MayasNotebookIsabel Allende, whose most recent novel is Maya’s Notebook, talked to The Guardian about her family and her past.

• NBC Latino profiled Monica Brown, author of Marisol Mcdonald and the Clash Bash/Marisol Mcdonald Y La Fiesta Sin Igual.

ThisIsHowYouLoseHerJunot Díaz, whose latest book This is How You Lose Her comes out Oct. 31 in a paperback deluxe edition with illustrations by Jaime Hernandez, has been featured in the Associated Press, Esquire and Salon. He also spoke to NBC Cafecito about his work with Freedom University for undocumented students.

Alisa ValdesPoet and novelist Gary Soto wrote  in the Huffington Post about why he stopped writing children’s stories.

• Novelist Alisa Valdes, left, gave her views on contemporary Latino lit to NBC Latino.

Juan Pablo Villalobos, author of Down the Rabbit Hole, was featured in the latest Granta podcast.

Mario Alberto Zambrano discussed his book Lotería to the Village Voice.

DreaminginCuban• The Cristina García novel Dreaming in Cuban was banned by an Arizona school, according to the Colorlines website. Meg Medina faced problems at one school with her book, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass.

• Here’s a cool way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, which ends Oct. 15 — this literary flow chart from ebook publisher Open Road Media shows great Latino literature selections.

• Publishing Perspectives examined how ebooks were affecting libraries in the Spanish-speaking countries.

Also this month:

• Looking for books for Halloween? Check out these scary stories for children and these thrillers for adults.

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Happy Independence Day, Chile!

Chile declared its independence from Spain on Sept. 18, 1810. The South American country has a turbulent history — and one of the richest literary traditions in the world.

gabriela_mistral• The only Latina to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, Gabriela Mistral (1889-1956) is best known for her poems that touch on the subjects of children and motherhood, such as in the book Ternura (Tenderness). Mistral is the subject of her own children’s book, My Name Is Gabriela: The Life of Gabriela Mistral, written by Monica Brown.

Pablo_NerudaPablo Neruda‘s (1904-1973) love poems have made him one of the most beloved poets in the world, winning the Nobel Prize. He is featured as a character in Antonio Skarmeta’s Il Postino, which was made into a 1994 Academy Award-nominated movie, and is the subject of Roberto Ampuero’s excellent The Neruda Case, which shows him in the last days of his life as he reflects on his past loves and President Salvador Allende’s government is about to be overthrown.

A._Skármeta• Besides Il Postino, Antonio Skarmeta has written some other memorable works, including the children’s book The Composition, named one of Scholastic Parent & Child’s 100 Greatest Books for Kids, and the play El Plebiscito, a story about the advertising campaign against President Augusto Pinochet that became No, a 2012 Oscar-nominated film.

AllendeIsabel Allende has won worldwide acclaim for her books that depict life in Chile, including The House of the Spirits, Eva Luna, Daughter of Fortune and her most recent novel, Maya’s Notebook.

roberto-bolanoThe novels of Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) — such as 2666, winner of the National Book Critics Award — have become more popular after his death. He also won the Romulo Gallegos Prize for The Savage Detectives.

AlejandroZambra• Winners of the Cervantes Prize, given to Spanish language writers, include Jorge Edwards, Gonzalo Rojas and Nicanor Parra. Other contemporary Chilean writers include Alejandro Zambra, right, author of Ways of Going Home.

Sources: Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica

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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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Filed under 2013 Books, Awards, Children's Books, Fiction, News, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Young Adult Books

Book review: Isabel Allende’s “Maya’s Notebook”

MayasNotebookNineteen-year-old Maya Vidal is in danger. She is sent to live to what seems like the end of the earth – Chilóe, a small island off the coast of Chile. And it’s there that she begins to find herself – a journey depicted in Isabel Allende’s newest novel Maya’s Notebook (Harper).

Maya, originally from Berkeley, Calif., has had a tough time since her beloved grandfather died from cancer. She turns to drugs and rapidly descends into a life of homelessness and crime – tangled in a web that involves the FBI, Interpol and a Las Vegas gang.

Her grandmother sends Maya to her native Chile to live in a town (population: 2,000) that seems disconnected from the world – the villagers can’t rent DVDs or video games and only see movies once a week at the school. Maya learns to like the villagers and adapts to their customs, such as the women’s gathering in a ruca on the nights of a full moon.

Maya’s Notebook requires some patience. The first 100 pages spend more time describing life in Chilóe and her family when I wanted to know how Maya got into such a mess. But my patience paid off, because when Maya finally revealed the secrets of her past, the story was a fast, fascinating read.

The book also draws it strength from Allende’s elegant writing, with inventive descriptions and metaphors, such as this:

“… Addiction is an astute and patient beast, with infinite resources, always lying in wait, whose strongest argument is persuading you to tell yourself you’re not really not an addict.”

Another great passage describes Manuel, a family friend who faces his own demons and secrets:

“On this blessed island nothing feeds my bad memories, but I make to an effort to write them down in this notebook so I won’t have to go through what happens to Manuel. He keeps his memories buried in a cave, and if he’s not careful, they attack him at night like rabid dogs.”

Beautiful writing – although, at times, I wondered if a 19-year-old brat would sound that sophisticated.

But those passages prove Allende’s excellence. She can make Maya a sympathetic character and take readers from the dangerous streets of Las Vegas to the humble town of Chilóe. Maya’s Notebook is an absorbing book that shows how one woman overcomes a life of terror.

AllendeMore about Isabel Allende:

Allende, who was born in Peru and raised in Chile, is best known for her 1982 novel The House of the Spirits. She also has written 11 novels, including 1985’s Eva Luna and 1999’s Daugher of Fortune, and four memoirs, including 1995’s Paula. She currently lives in the United States.

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher.

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In the news: April showers books from Coelho, Anaya and Allende

April is the month notorious for rain. Fortunately, there are plenty of books to keep you entertained:

RitaMoreno:AMemoirAlready out: In Rita Moreno: A Memoir, the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony-winning actress looks back on her life. Rigoberto González explores his influences on his writing in Red-Inked Retablos. The late Cuban poet Severo Sarduy’s novel Firefly examines the effects of surgery on two transvestites.

FidelPerezIn Elizabeth Huergo’s The Death of Fidel Pérez, townspeople in Cuba believe dictator Fidel Castro – not their  neighbor – has died.

April 2: Paulo Coehlo, author of The Alchemist and Aleph, explores mysterious documents in his new book Manuscript Found in Accra. The Guardian profiled the Brazilian author.

OldMan'sLoveStoryApril 19: Rudolfo Anaya writes about a widower coping with grief in The Old Man’s Love Story. Peruvian author Santiago Roncagliolo releases Hi, This is Conchita, a series of stories ranging from the sexy to the serious.

April 23: In Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende, a teenager returns to her home in Chile to cope with her past.

kentuckyclubAwards:

• After sweeping numerous awards for Dante and Aristotle Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz won the PEN/Faulkner Award for his book of short stories, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club. His publishers at Cinco Puntos Press talked about the book to The Washington Post.

• Saenz, poets Richard Blanco and Eduardo Corral and academic Ramón H. Rivera-Servera are among the Latinos nominated for prizes at the 25th Annual Lambda Literary Awards, which goes to books about the LGBT experience. The winners will be announced in June.

The Guardian reports that Junot Díaz won the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank award for his short story “Miss Lora,” which appeared in his book, This is How You Lose Her. Díaz also appeared on The Colbert Report last week, promoting Freedom University, a college for undocumented immigrants.

• The Westchester Fiction Award, which honors literature for young adults, nominated Saenz’s Dante and Aristotle and Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s Summer of the Mariposas.

Events:

Now-June 9: The Amherst, Mass.-based The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is presenting the exhibit “Latino Folk Tales,” about children’s literature aimed at young Hispanics, according to the Amherst Gazette. The exhibit will later show in University Center, Mich.; Phoenix; and Marshall, Texas.

April 5-July 21: A three-month celebration in New York City will honor of Spanish playwright Federico Garcia Lorca. His book about his experiences living in the city, Poet in New York, will be reissued.

April 6-7: Latino Literacy Now will play host to the 14th Annual Chicago Latino Book & Family Festival in Cicero, Ill.

April 18-21: Raquel Cepeda, author of Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina; Domingo Martinez, author of The Boy Kings of Texas; and children’s writers Pat Mora and Duncan Tonatiuh will be among the writers at the Arkansas Literary Festival in Little Rock.

April 19-21: The Border Book Festival in New Mexico explores the Camino Real de La Tierra Adentro.

April 20-21: The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books features Luis Alfaro, Gustavo Arellano, Alex Espinoza, Manuel Gonzales, Reyna Grande, Luis J. Rodriguez, Héctor Tobar and Luis Alberto Urrea.

April 30: Día de los niños, El día de los libros/Children’s Day, Book Day
– created by children’s author Pat Mora – celebrates its 17th anniversary this year. Find out about activities going on in your area.

Features:

The Los Angeles Times wrote about the making of the movie version of Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima, which got help from an heiress of the Wal-Mart fortune.

• Tony Díaz, leader of the Librotraficantes movement that brought banned books to Arizona, is now fighting a similar attempt in his home state of Texas, where legislators have introduced a bill in which ethnic studies courses would not count toward college graduation, according to the Texas Observer. The Los Angeles Times has noted an increase in interest in ethnic studies since the ban in Arizona took place.

CBS Morning News featured Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco, who presented the poem at President Obama’s inauguration earlier this year.

Publishing Perspectives profiled Dolores Redondo, a Basque writer who specializes in mysteries.

Also this month:

• April is National Poetry Month. Read about some great Latino poets.

• The Pulitzer Prizes will be announced April 15. Find out about Latino writers who have won the prestigious American award for journalism and literary arts.

• Celebrating birthdays this month: Nobel Prize winners Gabriela Mistral, José Echegaray and Vicente Aleixandre, as well as the late Chilean novelist Roberto Bolaño.

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The Hispanic Reader is one year old today!

It’s The Hispanic Reader’s one-year anniversary! Since my first post, I’ve talked to eight authors, marked 18 writers’ birthdays, reviewed 37 books and written 117 posts. To celebrate, I’m giving you a couple of presents.

First, I created a Features Index that includes links to those author interviews and profiles; lists of books for special occasions (from Christmas to quinceañeras); and features about Latino literature, such as a look at writers who have won the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes. (I already have an index of book reviews.)

Second, I’ve created a trivia quiz about Latino literature from my posts and book reviews in the past year. (You can find more information about the answers below the quiz.) Good luck and have fun!

1. The answer is D. In the 2001 movie, the flighty Sara (Kate Beckinsale) writes her name and phone number in a copy of Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera and tells Jonathan (John Cusack), who she just met, that if their love is meant to be, he will find that copy in a bookstore. Appropriate book since Cholera is about a man who waits 50 years for the woman he loves.

2. The answer is A. Although he is considered one of the top storytellers in Latino literature, Borges never won the Nobel. Only 12 Latinos have, including Paz, Saramago and Vargas Llosa. But Borges did get a Google doodle on his birthday.

3. The answer is B. Luis Valdez began directing plays on a flatbed truck and union halls during the Delano Grape Strike of the 1960s. His theater company is aptly named El Teatro Campesino. Considered the father of Latino theater, he wrote the play Zoot Suit and the directed the movie version and La Bamba.

4. The answer is C. In Il Postino, Pablo Neruda helps an Italian postal carrier woo his love. The 1994 film, based on an Antonio Skarmeta book, earned a Best Picture nomination. The other answers were books – by Laura Esquivel, Isabel Allende and Carlos Fuentes – that also were made into movies.

5. The answer is B. Loving Pedro Infante by Denise Chávez takes place in the tiny fictional town of Cabritoville, near El Paso.

6. The answer is B. Malín Alegría dons the elaborate dress in honor of her book Estrelle’s Quinceañera, one of many books about the popular Hispanic tradition. Veronica Chambers wrote the Magdalena and Marisol books; Diana López penned Choke; and Lorraine López authored The Realm of Hungry Spirits.

7. The answer is D. Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig is considered one of the most famous works in Latino literature of the last 50 years.

8. The answer is A. Hanks read Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude in the classic comedy caper.

9. The answer is D. Quiara Alegría Hudes won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 2012 for her play, Water by the Spoonful. Hudes, who also wrote 26 Miles and co-wrote the Tony-winner In the Heights, is one of the few Latinos to win the American award for literary arts and journalism. Although they have not won the Pulitzer, Julia Alvarez, Sandra Cisneros and Cristina García have written novels that have received strong critical acclaim.

10. The answer is C. Pablo Neruda knew Gabriela Mistral when he was growing up in Temuco, Chile. Fuentes and Paz are from Mexico. Allende is from Chile, but a generation younger than Neruda. Her uncle, President Salvador Allende, was friends with Neruda, a relationship depicted in Roberto Ampuero’s The Neruda Case.

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Classic Book Review: Isabel Allende’s “The House of the Spirits”

Isabel Allende’s 1982 The House of the Spirits is considered one of Latino literature’s best-known and greatest pieces of work. When you read it, you can the sense the influence the book has had on the books you read today.

Spirits tells the tale of Esteban Trueba, a poor but temperamental miner who rebuilds an abandoned ranch in South America and becomes a powerful patrón and politician. He is surrounded by three generations of headstrong women– his wife, clairvoyant Clara; his daughter, Blanca, who falls in love with a young revolutionary that Esteban disdains; and his granddaughter, Alba, who disagrees with him politically – and faces violent consequences.

The book mirrors political events in Chile and parts of Allende’s life. Her uncle, Salvador Allende, was that country’s socialist president in 1973 when he attacked in a 1973 military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet.

Allende writes in beautiful sentences, such as this: “Outside, the fields were shaking off their sleep and the first rays of sunlight were cutting the peaks of the cordillera like the thrusts of a saber, warming the earth and evaporating the dew into a fine white foam that blurred the edges of thing and turned the landscape into an enchanted dream.”

But those long descriptive paragraphs can make the book slow at times. I prefer fast-paced books with lots of dialogue, although the last 100 pages of Spirits was more gripping.

I can see the influence of Allende’s book in two epic tales of life on the ranchero and have characters with magical powers – Luis Alberto Urrea’s 2005 The Hummingbird’s Daughter, which has a more light-hearted tone, and Esmeralda Santiago’s 2011 Conquistadora, which has a feminist take.

Spirits – which was made into movie in 1993 starring Meryl Streep – is a fascinating story that earns the title of  “classic.”

More about Isabel Allende:

• Allende worked as a reporter before writing novels. This fascinating timeline shows her family’s history and reveals the inspiration for Spirits. Her other books include the novels 1985’s Eva Luna and 1999’s Daugher of Fortune, as well as 1995’s Paula, a memoir to her daughter, who died at age 28.

This is the first in a monthly series of classic books by Latina authors. Next month: How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez.

Source: I purchased this book at Books-A-Million.

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