Friday, December 12, 2008

End of Year - Looking Ahead

Continuing from last week, here are a few more publisher announcements about upcoming books for 2009.

University of New Mexico Press

María of Ágreda: Mystical Lady in Blue
Marilyn H. Fedewa
News of María of Ágreda's exceptional attributes spread from her cloistered convent in seventeenth-century Ágreda (Spain) to the court in Madrid and beyond. Without leaving her village, the abbess impacted the kingdom, her church, and the New World; Spanish Hapsburg king Felipe IV sought her spiritual and political counsel for over twenty-two years. Based upon her transcendent visionary experiences, Sor María chronicled the life of Mary, mother of Jesus of Nazareth, in Mystical City of God, a work the Spanish Inquisition temporarily condemned. In America, reports emerged that she had miraculously appeared to Jumano Native Americans--a feat corroborated by witnesses in Spain, Texas, and New Mexico, where she is honored today as the legendary "Lady in Blue." Lauded in Spain as one of the most influential women in its history, and in the United States as an inspiring pioneer, Sor María's story will appeal to cultural historians and to women who have struggled for equality against all odds. Marilyn Fedewa's biography of this fascinating woman integrates voluminous autobiographical, historical, and literary sources published by and about María of Ágreda. With liberal access to Sor María's papal delegate in Spain and convent archives in Ágreda, Fedewa skillfully reconstructs a historical and spiritual backdrop against which Sor María's voice may be heard.

Akashic Books

Havana Lunar
Robert Arellano
One hungry, hallucinatory night in the dark heart of Havana, Mano Rodriguez, a young doctor with the revolutionary medical service, comes to the aid of a teenage jinetera named Julia. She takes refuge in his clinic to break away from the abusive chulo who prostituted her, and they form an unlikely allegiance that Mano thinks might save him from his twin burdens: the dead-end hospital assignment he was delegated after being blacklisted by the Cuban Communist Party and a Palo Monte curse on his love life commissioned by a vengeful ex-wife. But when the pimp and his bodyguards come after Julia and Mano, the violent chain-reaction plunges them all into the decadent catacombs of Havana's criminal underworld.

Inspired by fifty years of Cuban noir, from the Cold Tales of Virgilio Pinera to Reinaldo Arenas' Before Night Falls, Arellano's Havana Lunar intertwines an insider testimony on the collapse of socialist Cuba with a psychological mystery that climaxes in the eye of Hurricane Andrew.

Robert Arellano's parents fled Havana in 1960. He has been working on Havana Lunar since 1992 when, as a student in Brown University's graduate writing program, he visited Cuba on a research fellowship. He has returned ten times, chronicling the Revolution in journalism, essay, and song. He is the author of two novels, Fast Eddie, King of the Bees and Don Dimaio of La Plata, both published by Akashic.

Usnavy has always been a true believer. When the Cuban Revolution triumphed in 1959, he was just a young man and eagerly signed on for all of its promises. But as the years have passed, the sacrifices have outweighed the glories and he's become increasingly isolated in his revolutionary zeal. His friends openly mock him, his wife dreams of owning a car totally outside their reach, and his beloved fourteen-year-old daughter haunts the coast of Havana, staring north. In the summer of 1994, a few years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the government allows Cubans to leave at will and on whatever will float. More than 100,000 flee--including Usnavy's best friend. Things seem to brighten when he stumbles across what may or may not be a priceless Tiffany lamp that reveals a lost family secret and fuels his long repressed feelings . . . But now Usnavy is faced with a choice between love for his family and the Revolution that has shaped his entire life.

Achy Obejas is the author of various books including the award-winning novel Days of Awe and the best-selling poetry chapbook This Is What Happened in Our Other Life. She is the editor of Akashic's critically acclaimed crime-fiction anthology Havana Noir, and the translator (into Spanish) for Junot Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Currently she is the Sor Juana Writer in Residence at DePaul University in Chicago. She was born in Havana and continues to spend extended time there.


Su Teatro Executive Artistic Director and Resident Playwright Anthony J. Garcia has been awarded a month-long residency by the national grant making and artists’ advocacy organization, United States Artists (USA). Garcia will travel in January 2009 to Sitka, Alaska to take part in a writer’s residency at the Island Institute there. In 2006, Garcia was named one of USA’s inaugural class of artist fellows, receiving a $50,000 award for that honor. USA’s fellowship program is meant to encourage creative output in the United States in order to invigorate the economy and celebrate our most talented creative thinkers.

Garcia has been a member of Su Teatro since 1972 when he joined the company as a guitar player and singer. From that point, he began writing plays and, as he says, the company members eventually let him direct. Garcia’s plays have garnered much critical acclaim including the Denver Post’s Ovation Award, the Denver Drama Critics Circle Award for Best New Play, and the University of California, Irvine Chicano Literary Award. Garcia also received a directing fellowship from Theatre Communications Group in 1989, which allowed him to visit theater groups across the country and solidify his standing as one of the Southwest’s preeminent theater visionaries. During his Alaska residency Garcia will work at The Island Institute to develop new work and share it with the local community through readings and workshops. Garcia will also travel to Ketchikan, Alaska to conduct a reading of his plays for local artists.

Launched in 2007 by USA and the Rasmuson Foundation, the Alaska Artist-in-Residence program (Alaska AIR) is an unprecedented statewide residency program that gives new opportunities to artists from across the country who have received USA fellowships for artistic excellence. Building on the success of Alaska AIR’s inaugural season, USA has partnered with five cultural institutions to host USA Fellows in dance, theater, crafts and visual arts throughout 2009.

“United States Artists is committed to providing new opportunities for America’s finest creative talent, both through financial support and programs that catalyze new artistic expression,” said USA Executive Director Katharine DeShaw. “With the generous support of the Rasmuson Foundation, we have forged exciting partnerships with local organizations that will give USA fellows exposure to native cultures, unique arts communities, and dramatic landscapes unlike any in the continental U.S. The inaugural season of Alaska AIR resulted in pioneering artistic work and we know the program will continue to enrich the state’s cultural organizations and the communities they serve in the year ahead.” Other USA fellows participating in the 2009 Alaska AIR program are photographer Zoe Strauss (Philadelphia, PA), dance duo Eiko & Koma (New York, NY), and textile artist Gwendolyn Magee (Jackson, MS).

The N.Y. Daily News lists Favorite Latino Books of 2008 selected by Latino and Latin American writers. Roberto Bolaño and his epic 2666 are mentioned several times. The writers include Dagoberto Gilb (who selected Teeth by Aracelis Girmay; Orange County by Gustavo Arellano; and Half of the World in Light, New and Selected Poems by Juan Felipe Herrera); Daniel Alarcón (2666); Ilan Stavans (2666); and Alisa Valdés-Rodríguez (Mexican Enough: My Life Between the Borderlines by Stephanie Elizondo Griest). The complete list is here. Gilb is quoted as observing that the year 2008 will be remembered for the "Bolaño 2666 rage."


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