Tag Archives: Julia Alvarez

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.”

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In the news

New releases: Fantasy mega-bestseller Diana Gabaldon, who is of Mexican-American and English descent, released her latest book, The Scottish Prisoner, on Tuesday.  Entertainment Weekly has a great interview in which she lists her favorite and not-so-favorite books. Also new on the bookshelves is Something Urgent I Have to Say to You: The Life and Works of William Carlos Williams, a biography of the poet, who was half-Puerto Rican, by Herbert Leibowitz.

Year in Review: Two of The Hispanic Reader’s favorite books of the year, Héctor Tobar’s The Barbarian Nurseries and Francisco Goldman’s Say Her Name, were named to The New York Times’s 100 Notable Books of 2011. For its Best of 2011 list, Kirkus Reviews picked The Secret History of Costaguana by Columbian author Juan Gabriel Vásquez and We the Animals by Justin Torres. (Its teen list includes by If I Could Fly by Judith Ortiz Cofer and Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Martinez McCall.) Animals also made Amazon.com’s Best of 2011 Top Twenty list. Lorraine Lopez’s The Realm of Hungry Spirits was selected for Bookpage’s best list.

Law: Nobel Laurete Gabriel García Márquez won a lawsuit in which a Colombian man claimed that a character in Márquez’s 1984 book Chronicle of a Death Foretold was based on him, according to The Guardian.

Random: President Obama purchased Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, among other books, while holiday shopping, ABC News reported.

Awards: Julia Alvarez, pictured at right, recently wrote about her acceptance of the Vermont Governor’sAward for Excellence in the Arts, which she received in November. The Cervantes Prize, considered the most prestigious Spanish language literary award, was given to Chilean poet Nicanor Parra, 97.

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In the news

Rigoberto González (pictured at left), who was born in California and raised in Mexico, releases his latest collection of poetry, Black Blossoms, today. The book centers on the struggles of women of color.

• The Brattleboro Literary Festival, which runs Oct. 14-15 in Vermont, will feature Julia Alvarez (pictured at right), Martín Espada and Luis Alberto Urrea. Alvarez’s latest children’s book, How Tía Lola Ended Up Starting Over (Knopf Books for Young Readers) was released last month. Alvarez is touring this month in support of the book. For more of her schedule, click here.

• 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 and Marisel Vera are on the schedule.

• Brazilian Paulo Coelho’s latest book, Aleph, reached number six on The New York Times bestsellers list for hardcover fiction. The Hispanic Reader will publish a review later this week.

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Meet novelist Guadalupe Garcia McCall

The seeds for Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s career as a novelist began in school, when her teachers encouraged her to become a writer. McCall’s first young adult novel, Under the Mesquite, was published earlier this month by Lee & Low Books.

McCall was born in Mexico and grew up in Eagle Pass. She is working on a second young adult novel and her poetry has been published in several literary journals. She also works as a junior high English teacher.

Q: Tell me more about your book, Under the Mesquite.

Under the Mesquite is a novel in verse, which came about because my editor, Emily Hazel, came across a small collection of poems I had submitted to Lee & Low. The poems were nothing more than small vignettes, glimpses of my life on the border, but Emily loved the poems so much she asked if I would work with her on turning the collection into a book. I agreed and thus began a three-year journey. Through several revisions, Emily and I decided to make it a work of fiction to allow for more freedom in the creative process.

Under the Mesquite is the story of Lupita, a young Mexican-American girl living the American dream, trying to fit in, dealing with normal teenage angst, until she learns her mother has cancer. The news devastates the family, but Lupita is determined to do whatever it takes to help Mami get better, and that includes taking on the role of parents while her parents travel to Galveston for her mother’s treatments. Unfortunately, life gets harder and harder, and Lupita’s journey is long and painful. However, because she is strong in love and faith, Lupita learns to cope and ultimately survive this difficult time in her life.

Q: What inspired you to become a writer?

Both my parents were an inspiration to me. They were hard-working people, with little education, so they always stressed education for us. My parents wanted great things for each and every one of us. They always made sure we saw how special and talented we were. From an early age, they looked for and fostered our “qualities” or talents.

However, my teachers played an integral role in my desire to become a writer. My third grade teacher, Mr. Hernandez, read a story I wrote in Spanish and asked me if I was going to become a writer. That planted the seed. Then, in high school, Ms. Garcia and Ms. Urbina were convinced I had the talent to become published. Even Ms. Moses, my mentor and math teacher, wanted that for me. I’ll never forget that she gave me a Writer’s Digest book for my high school graduation. I have all my wonderful teachers to thank for this beautiful dream I am living. They planted and nurtured the seed within me. All I had to do was believe them.

Q: What Latino/a authors have been your biggest influence and why?

There are so many authors I admire. I love Sandra Cisneros and Gary Soto and Julia Alvarez. As far as fiction is concerned, the author I love reading is Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I love his One Hundred Years of Solitude. I’ve read and reread that book so many times, and yet, every time, it feels like the first time because there is so much depth to that book. Someday, I want to grow up to write just like him. However, I am especially fond of Pat Mora, who has such beautiful lyrical poetry for children. I love her Dizzy in Your Eyes. She is my inspiration and my idol and “Dia de los Ninos” (her celebration of family literary) is close to my heart.

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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.

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All about the children

As a child of the 1970s and 1980s, I read the Little House on the Prairie, Ramona Quimby and Judy Blume books, and hung out with Strawberry Shortcake. You can’t get any whiter than Laura Ingalls Wilder and Strawberry Shortcake.

Fortunately, the book and toy industry discovered Latinos after I grew up. Nowadays, Hispanic children have Dora and Diego. Girls can play with a ridiculously overpriced American Girl doll that looks like them. Half-Puerto Rican Carmen Lowell is a character in the popular The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares.

Unlike teenagers, children seem to have more options when it comes to books. Here’s a list of some great resources:

• The great children’s writer Pat Mora features a list of Hispanic children’s writers on her website, in addition to her own books. She created El día de los niños/El día de los libros, Children’s Day/Book Day Dia, a day devoted to Hispanic children’s books. The event, which takes place at the end of April, celebrated its 15th anniversary this year.

• The prolific Gary Soto has at least a dozen children’s and young adult books listed on his website.

Pam Munoz Ryan have written books for younger students, including Esperanza Rising.

• For tweenagers, Veronica Chambers has written the Marisol and Magdelena books about two Panamanian best friends.

• Legendary Latina author Julia Alvarez has gotten into the children’s book business with her Tia Lola books, about a Dominican woman who takes care of her extended family, according to this AARP VIVA article.

• The Association for Library Service for Children rewards the Pura Belpré Award to a “Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.”

• Here are some good lists of children’s books from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the website Latino Stories, and Scholastic.

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