Tag Archives: Justin Torres

In the news

New releases: Maria Duenas’s The Time in Between comes out Tuesday. The suspense novel has received great reviews, including a blurb from Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa.  News for all the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media, by Juan Gonzalez and Joseph Torres, came out last month.

 • Book festivals: The Miami Book Fair International begins Nov. 13 and runs through Nov. 20, with the street fair running from Nov. 18-20. One session includes Francisco Goldman, Elizabeth Nunez, Esmeralda Santiago and Héctor Tobar – all in one room! Other writers include Ricardo Cravo Albin, Jose Alvarez, Sandra Rodriguez Barron, Jorge Casteñada, Maria Duenas, Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Martha Medeiros, Ana Menendez, Javier Sierra, Justin Torres, Ian Vasquez and Luis Alberto Urrea. Awesome.

Sandra Cisneros announced this week that she plans to leave San Antonio to concentrate more on writing, according to this San Antonio Express-News article. She has put her home up for sale, and she is considering moving to New Mexico. The fate of the Macondo Foundation for writers remains unclear since Cisneros said she had difficulty balancing her writing with her charity.

 Writing contests: Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Diaz will judge stories (no longer than 1,000 words) based on their narrative voice for the Figment writing website. Deadline is Nov. 30. For details, click here.

Feb. 1 is the deadline to submit noir fiction for the Valley Artistic Outreach’s “Border Noir: Hard-Boiled Fiction from the Southwest,” an anthology of short stories to be edited by Machete co-screenwriter Alvaro Rodriguez. The book will come out in May. Stories can be sent to noir@valartout.org. For more information, click here.

 

 

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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.

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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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News from Latino authors

Chilean Ariel Dorfman (pictured at right) and Brazilian Paolo Coelho will release new books on Tuesday. Dorfman’s book, Feeding on Dreams (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), discusses his exile from Chile after the Pinochet coup. He will make several appearances across the country, including at the New York Public Library tonight. Coelho’s book, Aleph (Knopf), is a novel similar to his megabestselling, The Alchemist. The New York Times has a great article on Coelho, who discusses how Jorge Luis Borges inspired his work and why he loves Twitter.

• Author Sergio Troncoso writes about his life – from growing up on the El Paso/Mexico border to studying at an Ivy League college –  in his new book, Crossing Borders: Personal Essays (Arte Público Press), out on Friday. He spoke with KUHF, the Houston NPR station, about the book.

Outside the Bones, a mystery with Afro-Carribbean elements written by Puerto Rican Lyn Di Iorio, will be published Friday by Arte Público Press.

• The West Hollywood Book Fair will take place Sunday. David A. Hernandez, Melinda Palacio, Felice Picano, Héctor Tobar, Justin Torres and Marcos M. Villatoro are scheduled to speak.

Kami Garcia (pictured at left), co-author of the Beautiful Chaos books, will speak at the Orange Country Children’s Book Festival on Sunday in Costa Mesa, Calif. Beautiful Darkness, written with Margaret Stohl, came out earlier this month in paperback.

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News from Latino authors

Here’s some news happening this week with Latino authors:

• Cuban-American author Alisa Valdes (formerly Valdes-Rodriguez) released her third book in The Dirty Girls Social Club series, Lauren’s Saints of Dirty Faith, this week. She’s selling the novel by e-book and paperback through an online merchant instead of through traditional bookstores. An excerpt of the book can be found in the October issue of Latina magazine.

The Guardian reported that Colombian Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez’s 1996 book, News of a Kidnapping, has been selling out in Tehran because it has drawn similarities to kidnappings in Iran.

• Puerto Rican writer Justin Torres continues to get critical acclaim for his book We the Animals, and, as this Reuters article points out, he has made it to the New York Times bestsellers chart.

• A campaign to bring a Latino-oriented bookstore, called La Casa Azul, to East Harlem has drawn attention from the Shelf Awareness e-newsletter and the Huffington Post. The owner hopes to raise $40,000, which an anonymous donor will match.

• Brazilian Paulo Coelho, (pictured at right) author of one of the mega-bestselling book, The Alchemist, will release his latest novel, Aleph, on Sept. 26.

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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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Book Review: Justin Torres’s “We the Animals”

Justin Torres’s debut novel, We the Animals, can be described in one word – wow.

The book is a series of short vignettes about three brothers – half-Puerto Rican, half-white – growing up in upstate New York. The narrator begins the book using “we” as he describes the boys’ exploits around their neighborhood. The title’s metaphor is perfect, as demonstrated in the book’s opening lines:

“We wanted more. We knocked the butt ends of our forks against the table, tapped our spoons against our empty bowls; we were hungry. We wanted more volume, more riots. We turned up the knob on the TV til our ears ached with the shouts of angry men. We wanted more music on the radio; we wanted beats; we wanted rock. We wanted muscles on our skinny arms. We had bird bones, hollow and light, and we wanted more density, more weight. We were six snatching hands, six stomping feet; we were brothers, boys, three little kings locked in a feud for more,” he writes in the poetic first story, “We Wanted Everything.”

The book starts out with stories that are funny and innocent, just like the boys. But life gets tougher for the children, especially as their young mother and father experience stressful jobs and marital problems. Torres’s dialogue and descriptions are so real that you feel like you’re in the room with the family.

Sometimes, the scenes can get stark.

“You talking about escaping?” Ma asked.

“Nobody,” Papa said. “Not us. Not them. Nobody’s ever escaping this.”

As the boys get older, the narrator uses “I” instead of “we” as he emerges as the smarter, more responsible brother. But the book – and the title’s metaphor – takes on an unexpected and disturbing tone as the family discovers a secret about the narrator.

We the Animals is a thin book – only 125 pages – that readers will zip through in a couple of hours. But the memories of the book will last with them.

More about Justin Torres:

• An interview with Torres and excerpt from the book can be found on “The Diane Rehm Show” website.

• Torres talked about his short story, “Reverting to a Wild State,” to The New Yorker.

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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.

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