Friday, January 19, 2007

New Stuff

Manuel Ramos

This post is a short roundup of recently released and upcoming books that sound as though they belong on my TBR list. The information is from the publishers -- I haven't read any of these yet; if you do and you want to share your review, give us a buzz.

RECENTLY RELEASED

Lengua Fresca: Latinos Writing on the Edge
Ilan Stavans and Harold Augenbraum, editors
Mariner Books - Publication Date: November, 2006
From the Houghton Mifflin website:

"Brazen, bold, edgy, and fresh: an unexpected take on Latino life, spotlighting some of the culture's most exciting innovative and emerging voices.

An entertaining, provocative and often exhilarating collection, Lengua Fresca celebrates some of the most original and cutting-edge work to emerge from the cultural collide that is Latino life in the United States. Featuring an eclectic mix of Latino writing including fiction, journalism, essays, comics, and even cultural ephemera, this unique anthology showcases literature found in unexpected places. Selections include stories from Salvador Plascencia, Christina Henriquez, and Ana Menendez; graphic pieces from the Hernandez brothers (creators of the groundbreaking comix Love and Rockets) and Lalo Alcaraz (creator of La Cucaracha); and essays by Stephanie Elizondo Griest and Dagoberto Gilb on pop culture topics such as The George Lopez Show and Taco Bell. The growth of Spanglish, the lingua franca of Hispanic communities, is highlighted as well. Compiled by the editors of the classroom favorite Growing Up Latino, Lengua Fresca offers an unconventional window on a vibrant, quickly expanding culture."

Latina Mistress by R.F. Sanchez
Floricanto Press - Publication Date: Fall, 2006
From the Floricanto website:

"This novel follows the long tradition of historical fiction in the sense that all the anecdotes told here are actually true, although the names have been changed to protect the guilty. The author gathered these very human stories through years of observation as well as personal experience and much research. The author and his wife, Helen, actually knew personally Berta, one of the tragic heroines of this novel. He also interviewed scores of males and females of both cultures attesting to the accuracy of the story. What is a young and beautiful [immigrant] to do to survive two alien worlds, the Hispanic and Anglo worlds, with their own good and evil characters? The answer is shivering in its clarity: whatever is required. This novel depicts the dramatic lives of two beautiful sisters, both [immigrants], and how some people take advantage of their weakness and their sex. In this sense this novel is a classic tale of what has always occurred with the disadvantaged all along; the powerful taking advantage of the weaker and more disadvantaged members of society."

COMING IN 2007


So Far from Allah, So Close to Mexico: Middle Eastern Immigrants in Modern Mexico
Theresa Alfaro-Velcamp
July
From the University of Texas Press website:

"Middle Eastern immigration to Mexico is one of the intriguing, untold stories in the history of both regions. In So Far from Allah, So Close to Mexico, Theresa Alfaro-Velcamp presents the fascinating findings of her extensive fieldwork in Mexico as well as in Lebanon and Syria, which included comprehensive data collection from more than 8,000 original immigration cards as well as studies of decades of legal publications and the collection of historiographies from descendents of Middle Eastern immigrants living in Mexico today.

Adding an important chapter to studies of the Arab diaspora, Alfaro-Velcamp's study shows that political instability in both Mexico and the Middle East kept many from fulfilling their dreams of returning to their countries of origin after realizing wealth in Mexico, in a few cases drawing on an imagined Phoenician past to create a class of economically powerful Lebanese Mexicans. She also explores the repercussions of xenophobia in Mexico, the effect of religious differences, and the impact of key events such as the Mexican Revolution.

Challenging the post-revolutionary definitions of mexicanidad and exposing new aspects of the often contradictory attitudes of Mexicans toward foreigners, So Far from Allah, So Close to Mexico should spark timely dialogues regarding race and ethnicity, and the essence of Mexican citizenship."

The Desert Remembers My Name: On Family and Writing
Kathleen Alcalá
April
From the University of Arizona Press website:

"We were here when the white people came, the Spaniards, then the Americans. And we will be here when they go away, [my father] would say, and it will be part of Mexico again. Thus begins a lyrical and entirely absorbing collection of personal essays by esteemed Chicana writer and gifted storyteller Kathleen Alcalá. Loosely linked by an exploration of the many meanings of family, these essays move in a broad arc from the stories and experiences of those close to her to those whom she wonders about, like Andrea Yates, a mother who drowned her children. In the process of digging and sifting, she is frequently surprised by what she unearths. Her family, she discovers, were Jewish refugees from the Spanish Inquisition who took on the trappings of Catholicism in order to survive. Although the essays are in many ways personal, they are also universal. When she examines her family history, she is encouraging us to inspect our own families, too. When she investigates a family secret, she is supporting our own search for meaning. And when she writes that being separated from our indigenous culture is a form of illiteracy, we know exactly what she means. After reading these essays, we find that we have discovered not only why Kathleen Alcalá is a writer but also why we appreciate her so much. She helps us to find ourselves."

Hurricanes and Carnivals: Essays by Chicanos, Pochos, Pachucos, Mexicanos, and Expatriates

Edited by Lee Gutkind
March
From University of Arizona website:

"In Hurricanes and Carnivals, Lee Gutkind, a pioneer in the teaching of creative nonfiction, brings together fifteen essays by Mexican, Mexican American, and Latin American writers that push the boundaries of style and form, showing that navigating truth is anything but clear-cut. Although creative nonfiction is widely thought to be an American art form, this collection proves otherwise. By blending fact and fiction, story and fantasy, history and mythology, these writers and others push the bounds of the essay to present a vision of Mexico rarely seen from this side of the border. Addressing topics that include immigration, politics, ecology, violence, family, and sexuality, they take literary license on a whirlwind adventure. C. M. Mayo shows us Mexico City as seen through the eyes of her pug, Picadou; Juan Villoro examines modern Mexico through the lens of demography; Homero Aridjis uses the plight of nesting sea turtles to document a slowly changing Mexican attitude toward natural resources; and Sam Quinones documents the decline of beauty-queen addiction in Mazatlán and tells us about the flower festivals where, according to lore, only two things matter: hurricanes and carnivals. For readers interested in a literary view of contemporary Mexico, as well as students of the creative nonfiction genre, this volume is essential."

The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry
Edited by Francisco Aragón
April
From the University of Arizona website:

"The Wind Shifts gathers, for the first time, works by emerging Latino and Latina poets in the twenty-first century. Here readers will discover 25 new and vital voices including Naomi Ayala, Richard Blanco, David Dominguez, Gina Franco, Sheryl Luna, and Urayoán Noel. All of the writers included in this volume have published poetry in well-regarded literary magazines. Some have published chapbooks or first collections, but none had published more than one book at the time of selection. This results in a freshness that energizes the enterprise."

A Question of Gravity and Light
Blas Falconer
April
From the University of Arizona website:

"As a gay man who embraces his Puerto Rican heritage, Falconer stands at an edge of American society, and there is the tension of borders in his work: borders between peoples and nations as well as the less visible, more porous and deceptive borders between family members and lovers. There is not one point of view in these poems but many. It is the quality of their observational power that binds them together. Whether the setting is the hospital room of his dying grandfather or his own backyard teeming with garrulous tree frogs, Falconer transports us to the scene. It is easy for us to imagine what he sees. And we care, deeply, just as he does."

Raven Eye
Margo Tamez
March
From the University of Arizona website:

"Written from thirteen years of journals, psychic and earthly, this poetry maps an uprising of a borderland indigenous woman battling forces of racism and sexual violence against Native women and children. This lyric collection breaks new ground, skillfully revealing an unseen narrative of resistance on the Mexico-U.S. border. A powerful blend of the oral and long poem, and speaking into the realm of global movements, these poems explore environmental injustice, sexualized violence, and indigenous women's lives."

Plenty of good reading.

Remember that La Bloga is open seven days a week. Come back this weekend and enjoy lively posts by guest contributors. We are excited about all the new voices here at La Bloga. It's a fresh year with fresh blood. And it's all good.

Later.

3 comments:

Francisco Aragon said...

Thanks for plugging the anthology, Manuel. There will be a group reading for it in Atlanta on Friday, March 2, as part of the CON TINTA event/celebration off site of the AWP conference. More details, later.

Saludos,

Francisco

msedano said...

TBR indeed! What a great roundup of interesting titles. I hope to get my eyes on some of these. Thanks for the tips.

mvs

C. M. Mayo said...

Fascinating list. Thanks for the mention of my Picadou essay in Gutkind's new anthology. (By the way, I also read that essay for an audio CD; part of proceeds go to benefit Presencia Animal, a Mexico City dog and cat rescue organization.) Picadou says ww-w-oof! Blog on!