Linked above is an interview with Salvador Plascencia in the Los Angeles Times (registration required). The interview will attract more readers to People of Paper. Felicidades, Salvador. A great P.R. coup.
My eye was drawn to the novelist's answer:
"There are many Latino culture collectives. Why did you publish with McSweeney's, home to an aesthetic associated with white writers such as Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace?
The Latino imprints never called when it was going around. McSweeney's called. But I'm very happy because now the book doesn't get reviewed as a "Latino imprint" book, but as a book. As a writer, I align myself with aesthetics, not ethnicity. Why is Jonathan Safran Foer not published by a Jewish American press? Should John Edgar Wideman and Toni Morrison be published only by black presses? There is something comforting in the fact that these ethnic collectives exist, but they can also have a ghettoizing effect."
I'm a bit offended by the idea of a literary "ghetto," especially used to describe anything chicana chicano. Call it a barrio, ese, or call it a colonia. When I think of "ghetto" a couple of images come to mind. The Warsaw Ghetto and Watts. The Warsaw Ghetto constituted a large city, literally walled-in by the pigs running the city. An ugly place of desperation and history. During the Watts riots in 1964 or thereabouts, a racist joke made the rounds that the "solution" to the problem of Watts' unrest would be to build a big wall around the area and once a week toss meat over it.
More recently, scholars coined the concept of the "internal colony" to account for the daily lives of multicultural gente like imigrantes and chicanos. We go by day into the anglo-unitedstatesian economic culture where, chameleon-like, we don neckties and similar disguises, speak English, say stuff like "how nice," and "lovely," and take two-hour martini lunches. At 5:00 we return to our neighborhoods, kick back with una chelada listening to Freddy Fender and Los Tigres Del Norte, chow down on nopales bean sandwiches lavished with chile, and ogle the blondes on Televisa.
In other words, we are culturally different. Different doesn't imply deficient. Hence, the pejoration that attends the word and concept of "ghetto" strikes me as, if not a form of cultural misappropriation, then perhaps as a form of cultural submission.