Tag Archives: Sabrina Vourvourlias

Happy Independence Day, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua!

On Sept. 15, 1821, five Central American countries declared their independence from Spain. (It also marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, with several Latin American countries celebrating their Independence Days in the next 30 days.) Here’s a look at the writers and books from these nations:

CocoriCosta Rica: Poet and novelist Joaquín Gutiérrez wrote several books, including Cronicas De Otro Mundo; the children’s book Cocori, which has been translated into several languages and produced as a play; and Chinto Pinto, a book of Costan Rican proverbs and songs for children.

RoqueDaltonSmallHoursEl Salvador: Poet Roque Dalton (1935-1975) now is considered a revered figure in his native country for his works, collected in the book Small Hours of the Night. But his left wing politics sent him in exile from his country and led to his death. Héctor Tobar of The Los Angeles Times had a fascinating story about his execution.

asturiasGuatemala: Miguel Angel Asturias (1899-1974), right, won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his novels — The President (El Senor Presidente) and Men of Maize: The Modernist Epic of the Guatemalan Indians (Hombres de Maize) — that depicted life in his country. Contemporary novelists Francisco Goldman, Héctor Tobar and Sabrina Vourvoulias have Guatemalan roots.

enriques-journeyHonduras: Novelist Froilán Turcios (1875-1943) is best known for his collection of short stories Cuentos del Amor y la Muerte (Stories of Love and Death). Roberto Sosa (1930-2011) won awards for his poetry. The non-fiction book Enrique’s Journey, based on Pulitzer Prize-winning series by Sonia Nazario, follows a young Honduran boy as he travels to the United States to find his mother.

Rubén_DaríoNicaragua: Poet Rubén Darío (1867-1916), right, is considered one of the finest wordsmiths in the Spanish language, with poems that experimented with the language. They can be found in the book Selected WritingsNovelist Silvio Sirias, who was raised in California, drew upon his cultural heritage for such books as Meet Me Under the Ceiba and Bernardo and the Virgin.

Sources: Answers.com, Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, Poets.org, Los Angeles Times, Vidagranada.com

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In the news: Sáenz, Díaz win Pura Belpré Awards

The new year brings honors for books released last year. Here’s a look at some recent award winners, plus the usual round-up of new releases and other links.

AristotleDanteBenjamin Alire Sáenz’s 2012 young adult novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe won three major honors today at the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards. His story of two teenagers who form an unlikely friendship earned the Pura Belpré Author Award, which honors books that depict the Latino experience; a Michael L. Printz Honor Book, which awards outstanding books for young adults; and the Stonewall Book Award, which recognizes stories that represent the lives of lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgendered youth.

martin-de-porresThe other Pura Belpré recipients were The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, an Honor Book winner for author Sonia Manzano, and Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert which won the Belpré Illustrator Award for David Díaz.

• Several Latino writers made the 2013 Rainbow List for books aimed at youth that depict the LBGTQ experience. They are Jeanne Córdova, When We Were Outlaws:  a Memoir of Love & Revolution; Rigoberto Gonzalez, Mariposa Gown; Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante; Charles Rice-González, Chulito: A Novel.

SummeroftheMariposasGuadalupe Gárcia McCall’s Summer of the Mariposas earned a place on the Amelia Bloomer Project Top Ten List for feminist books for youth.

Reyna Grande was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award in the autobiography category for her memoir The Distance Between Us.

ThisIsHowYouLoseHerJunot Díaz is up for The Story Prize, given to short story collections, for his book This is How You Lose Her. Diaz’s book was also named to the Reference and User Services Association’s 2013 Notable Books List.

Sergio Troncoso’s 2011 novel From This Wicked Patch of Dust won the Southwest Book Award, which is given by the Border Regional Library Association.

• Houston’s Tony Díaz, leader of the Librotraficante movement, will receive the Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

MyBelovedWorldOut in bookstores:

• Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has the number one book on The New York Times’ Hardcover Non-Fiction chart with her memoir, My Beloved World.

• Fiction: In Thomas Sanchez‘s American Tropic, an ecoterrorist is on the loose in the Florida Keys. In Kind of Kin by Rilla Askew, an Oklahoma family comes under fire for hiring undocumented immigrants from Mexico.

Literary Magazines:

• The Kweli literary journal, which features works by people of color, is accepting submissions until March 1.

Dagoberto Gilb is among the writers with works in the latest issue of Make: A Chicago Literary Magazine.

Writing contests:

• Feb. 12 is the deadline to submit scripts for consideration for the 2013 Austin Latino New Play Festival, which is open to Texas/Tejano playwrights this year. The festival, sponsored by Teatro Vivo, features a different play each night from May 16 to 18.

Other news:

Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco, who recited his poem at President Obama’s inauguation, was profiled on the Poets.org website and the Poetry Foundation website. Watch that poem and read 14 other works by Blanco on the MediaBistro website. In this Huffington Post article, he talked about how his homosexuality was not accepted in his family.

• Cuban-American Dolores Prida, a playwright, newspaper columnist and the “Dolores Dice” columnist for Latina magazine, passed away last month, Latina reports. Here are articles about her from the Associated Press, CNN, Huffington Post, The Nation and The New York Times. Read Prida’s columns at the Voices of NY website.

• In this School Library Journal story, librarians reacted to a recent New York Times article about the lack of Latino literature in classrooms.

Las Comadres Para Las Americas National Latino Book Club has announced its first book selections of the year – including the anthology Eight Ways to Say “I Love My Life” and Sabrina Vourvoulias’ science-fiction novel Ink.

Los Angeles Times columnist Héctor Tobar interviewed Sandra Cisneros for the LA Review of Books. Tobar also wrote about Latino Books y Más, a bookstore that specializes in Latino literature in Palm Springs, Calif., that is closing down. Cisneros delivered her playlist, with selections from from Chavela Vargas to The Beatles,to the alt.latino website of NPR.

Manuel Gonzales, author of the The Miniature Wife and Other Stories, was featured in The Austin Chronicle. Hear Gonzales read one of his book’s stories, “Pilot, CoPilot, Writer”, on the Poets and Writers website.

• Poet Martín Espada discussed his works, including his most recent book The Trouble Ball, on the TV show Bill Moyers and Company.

• Daniel Alcarón, whose novel At Night We Walk in Circles will come out in the fall, talked to Poets and Writers magazine about the importance of literary awards.

• The Publishing Perspectives website discussed how more translations are needed for books by Latin American writers.

• Natasha Wimmer talked to the website Sampsonia Way about translating the works of Roberto Bolaño.

Joy Castro, author of Hell or High Water, discussed her faith to the In the Fray website.

In February:

• In honor of Black History Month, here’s a look at Afro-Latino writers. Want to read a great romance for Valentine’s Day? Try something from this list of great love stories, Latino-style.

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Filed under 2013 Books, Awards, Children's Books, Fiction, News

Meet novelist Sabrina Vourvoulias, author of “Ink”

Sabrina Vourvoulias has taken on the immigration issue with an intriguing twist.

Her newly released novel, Ink, explores the topic under the science fiction genre. Vourvoulias knows the issue firsthand. She grew up in Guatemala and moved to the United States as a teenager. Vourvoulias has worked mostly in newspapers and serves as managing editor of Al Día News Media, the Spanish-language newspaper in Philadelphia. She writes speculative fiction and poetry and also runs the blog, Following the Lede.

Q. Tell me about your book, Ink.
A. Ink is a novel that combines dystopia, literary fiction and magic realism. As the novel opens, a biometric tattoo has been instituted for temporary workers, immigrants with permanent resident status, and citizens with too-recent immigration history. (Because it is a tattoo those who are marked by it come to be called “inks.”) Restrictions, including “English-only” ones, are imposed and escalate until life becomes a series of “bad” and “worse” choices for the protagonists.

The story is narrated by four alternating voices: a journalist whose “beat” is reporting on inks; a citizen ink who works in the city’s population control office; an artist who is drawn (pun intended) into the inks’ struggles through friendship and temperament; and a teenager whose mother runs an “inkatorium” (a sanitarium-internment center opened in response to public health concerns).

All of the characters grapple with issues of exclusion, identity, and a shifting sense of community. But there is another layer of the world the characters are touched by — a layer peopled by mythic beings, and coursed by spirit and magic. A layer of the world where justice and reconciliation is measured in memories, and by the heart.

Q. Why did you choose the science fiction genre for a novel about immigration?
A. Speculative fiction that incorporates elements of science fiction and fantasy is born with a “what if?” and grows from there. In my case, I was already hearing and reporting about undocumented immigrants in my journalistic work, and tracking how the discourse was becoming less and less about authorization, and more about a generalized fear and loathing. I created characters I cared about — with a diversity of life experiences and expectations — and subjected them to a daily existence that is an exaggerated version of what I have already observed or heard about. I wove through this what I love best about Sci Fi/Fantasy/Magic Realism: the poetic imaginings, and the “what ifs” that aren’t restricted to our material, physical world.

Q. How has your Guatemalan/Latino heritage inspired your work? Who are your favorite Latino writers, and why?
A. I grew up in a Guatemala torn by an undeclared, internal war. Those years were spent living our everyday lives under the rule of a repressive government that didn’t hesitate to get rid of those it deemed undesirable. Those experiences undergird the very U.S. dystopia I created for Ink, and much of what I subject the fictional city of Hastings to (martial law, curfews, roadblocks and civil patrols, states of emergency) is lived experience.

At the same time, I am formed by the folklore and legends of Guatemala, which all live barely under the skin of those of us connected by blood and heart to that country. It is hard to imagine a nation more rich with pre and post colonial mythology and folklore. That living cultural legacy, and the particularly strong ties of family, faith and community I’ve experienced in the U.S., are all part of what inspires not only this work, but all my work.

As for favorites, I’m very fond of both Latin American Boom classics and the works of U.S. Latino authors, and probably for the same reasons: they tend to be character-driven and very socially aware, while imbued with a kind of casual or innate magic. Or, if not actual magic, a sense of the mythic. So, Miguel Angel Asturias, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Juan Rulfo and Jorge Luis Borges on the Latin American side, and Sandra Cisneros, Denise Chavez, Ana Castillo, Julia Alvarez, Cristina Garcia, Francisco Goldman and emerging writers like Gina Ruiz and Melinda Palacio on the U.S. side. I also read a lot of poetry including the works of Francisco Alarcon, Lorna Dee CervantesAlma Luz Villanueva, Elena Diaz Bjorkquist and Martin Espada.

Leer es poder, they say, and it’s true. There is power in words, and the need for Latino voices — read, wrtitten and spoken — has never been clearer.

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