Monday, October 17, 2005

SPOTLIGHT ON ESMERALDA SANTIAGO

Monday’s post from Daniel Olivas

Esmeralda Santiago was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She came to the United States at thirteen, the eldest in a family that would eventually include eleven children. Santiago attended New York City’s Performing Arts High School, where she majored in drama and dance. After eight years of part-time study at community colleges, she transferred to Harvard University with a full scholarship. She graduated magna cum laude in 1976. In 1977, she and her husband, Frank Cantor, founded CANTOMEDIA, a film and media production company, which has won numerous awards for excellence in documentary filmmaking.

Upon publication of her first book, the memoir When I Was Puerto Rican, Santiago was hailed as “…a welcome new voice, full of passion and authority,” by the Washington Post Book World. Her first novel, America's Dream, was published in six languages, and was an Alternate Selection of the Literary Guild. Her second memoir, Almost a Woman, received numerous “Best of Year” mentions, in addition to an Alex Award from the American Library Association. Her third memoir, The Turkish Lover, has received enthusiastic reviews as “an earthy, heartfelt tale of liberation, desperation, and the crippling grip of love.” (Booklist) It was selected a BookSense recommendation for September 2004 and appeared on several “Best of 2004” lists. She is also the author of the illustrated children’s book, A Doll for Navidades. Santiago is currently at work on a novel.

ESCUCHE: Michael Jaime-Becerra, author of the short-story collection, Every Night Is Ladies' Night: Stories (HarperCollins/Ray), appeared on "The California Report” on Public Radio on October 10, 2005. You may listen to the program here. You may also read my review of this wonderful book.

STILL RUNNING: In yesterday’s book section of the L.A. Times, Kristina Lindgren offered a short essay about Luis J. Rodríguez. Here is an excerpt:

FROM DESPAIR, WORDS OF HOPE

When "Always Running" came out in 1993, its author — the poet, novelist and Chicano activist Luis J. Rodríguez — hoped that this gripping memoir of his career as a gang-banger in poverty-riddled East Los Angeles would dissuade his troubled teenage son, Ramiro, from la vida loca.

Since then, the author reports, "more of my homies from 30 years ago have died," and Ramiro is serving a 28-year prison sentence for three counts of attempted murder. Meanwhile, Rodríguez's graphic and unvarnished account of "stealing, shootings, stabbings, arrests, homelessness, drug use and overdoses" has become one of the nation's 100 most widely banned books, according to the American Library Assn.

"Always Running," reissued this month by Simon & Schuster, traces his path "from victim to perpetrator to witness to revolutionary." In a new introduction, Rodríguez writes: "The fact is I failed at everything I tried to do, but I kept working at it, failing some more, not giving up, so that eventually, at age 51, I've begun to center my life, get control over my destructive impulses, and become someone my wife, my kids, my grandchildren, and my community can learn from and respect." . . . .

You may read the entire essay along with a selection of Rodríguez’s poetry here.

DESPERATELY SEEKING LATINA WRITERS: Publisher’s Weekly (by way of our comadre, Gina, here at La Bloga) tells us that if you are an "established or emerging author" of commercial women's fiction aimed at "Latinas who are immersed in the American mainstream while maintaining ties to their culture," Warner has a new imprint to showcase your work. Solana (Spanish, we are told, for "where the sun shines"), will publish six such trade paperbacks a year, starting in early 2007, under the direction of associate editor Adrienne Avila.

9TH ANNUAL LOS ANGELES LATINO BOOK & FAMILY FESTIVAL: Authors, book signings, publishing seminars, Folklórico dance competition, entertainment, food, and fun for the entire family.

Venue: Fairplex
Dates: October 22 and 23
Address: 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona, 91768
Ages: All Ages
Admission: Free
For more information call: 760-434-4484
Or visit: http://www.lbff.us/
E-mail: jim@LBFF.us

NEWS FROM THE UCLA CHICANO STUDIES RESEARCH CENTER (“CSRC”): The CSRC invites everyone to its annual open house at the UCLA campus on Thursday, October 20, 4:00-7:00 p.m., at Haines Hall 144.

Open House Activities:
Balcony—Eat and drink courtesy of Casablanca Restaurant!
Room 144—View Sleepy Lagoon and other archival information!
Room 180—Buy the center’s books, journals, DVDs, and t-shirts!
Room 179—Win door prizes!

Open House Speakers:
Assemblymember Cindy Montañez
Vice Chancellor Claudia Mitchell-Kernan
Professor Daniel Solorzano
Director Chon A. Noriega

CONFERENCE: El Clamor Público - 150 Years of Latino Newspapers in Southern California.

The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA
October 28, 2005
8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Sponsored by the Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West, USC Annenberg School for Communication, California State University, Northridge Graduate Studies Program Distinguished Speakers Series, and the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation.Founded in Los Angeles in 1855, the newspaper El Clamor Público staunchly defended equal rights in California. Though labeled treacherous, incendiary, and anti-American, eighteen-year-old journalist Francisco P. Ramírez‘s newspaper courageously reported lynchings, land frauds, vigilante terror, racial profiling, and legal injustices targeting Spanish-language communities. Ramírez’s faith in the U.S. Constitution guided him as he urged readers to elect trustworthy representatives and to learn English so they could defend their rights. He printed the Declaration of Independence in Spanish and encouraged Californios and Anglos to “work together in the same spirit.” During its four and a half years, the newspaper published political opinion, international news, literary expressions, and social commentaries.This conference will examine the history and legacy of El Clamor Público through and exploration of Latino newspapers in Southern California’s past, present, and future. The conference is free and open to the public; registration is required by October 24. Luncheon will be provided for a prepaid fee. For registration information, go here. For more information on the conference contact conference coordinator Joseph Legaspi at his e-mail.

All done. So, until next Monday, enjoy the intervening posts from my compadres y comadre at La Bloga. ¡Lea un libro!

1 comment:

La Bloga said...

I wonder how others respond to America's Dream? I left it feeling discouraged, as if the only exit a woman has from an abusive husband is to kill the pendejo.

mvs