Latinos in Lotusland: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature (Bilingual Press) brings to life Latino denizens of Los Angeles and the city's surrounding communities. The stories describe complex, diverse characters: young and old, gay and straight, rich and poor. Meet a Cuban-American screenwriter trying to pitch the "real" story behind the Bay of Pigs fiasco, a Mexican woman who believes she's seen a miracle, youths trying to avoid gang life while others embrace it, and many others. This anthology brings together 60 years of Los Angeles fiction by 34 Latino/a authors.
In my role as editor of the anthology, I will be moderating a reading and group discussion with six of the authors from this groundbreaking collection. They are: Estella González, Álvaro Huerta, Melinda Palacio, Alejandro Morales, Victorio Barragán, Conrad Romo.
DATE: Saturday, October 3rd
TIME: 1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
PLACE: Tía Chucha's Café Cultural, 13197-A Gladstone Ave., Sylmar, CA 91342 (phone: 818-528-4511)
If you haven’t attended one of these wonderful Latinos in Lotusland group readings during the last year and a half, you should try to make this one. We will have one more group reading at the Latino Book and Family Festival on October 10 (more on the two-day festival later).
◙ The debut collection by Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés, Marielitos, Balseros and Other Exiles (Ig Publishing), is receiving nothing but raves. Here is one:
Publishers Weekly: “In her debut collection, Milanés tells varied, often heartbreaking tales of Cuban-American exiles. With young Carmen, Milanés introduces readers to the community's exodus, the 1980 Mariel boatlift, when Castro reluctantly let 10,000 Cubans leave the country. Carmen's simple but eye-opening story features a radio broadcast cataloguing the difficulties those marielitos have since faced in the U.S. In this emotional tour through the semiconnected lives of these immigrants, and the rafters who came after (the balseros), hardworking dishwasher Juan loses the job he loves, becomes homeless and discovers unexpected opportunity; his abrupt fate turns up in a later story about José Vidal, a dangerous marielito who's lost his mind. For her family, Damarys has clawed her way to freedom and success by whatever means necessary; in his own story, her brother Fito refuses to take part in his beloved sister's illegitimate schemes. Complex and woeful, Milanés's rich ensemble act may remind readers of Junot Diaz's Drown and Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son.”
Cecilia Rodríguez Milanés is a professor of Latino/a literature and writing at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Her short fiction has been anthologized in Iguana Dreams: New Latino Fiction (HarperCollins), Did My Mama Like to Dance? and Other Stories about Mothers and Daughters (Avon) and in New World: Young Latino Writers (Bantam).
◙ One of my favorite writers (who also happens to be a contributor to Latinos in Lotusland) is Reyna Grande whose new novel, Dancing with Butterflies (Washington Square Press), will be published in October. Publishers Weekly says it’s a “lyrical and sensual follow-up to her stunning Across a Hundred Mountains (2006) [and] is well worth the wait.” There will be a combination publication party and a fundraiser for Homeboy Industries.
WHEN: Saturday, October 3rd
TIME: 4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. (Author Book Reading & Signing); 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. (Faith & Hope: Beyond Prison Walls Art Exhibit)
WHO: Reyna Grande, author; Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J., founder, Homeboy Industries; Grandeza Mexicana Folk Ballet Company
WHERE: Homeboy Industries, 130 W. Bruno St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
◙ NEW NOVEL SERIES FROM KATHY CANO-MURILLO: Kathy Cano-Murillo’s new novel series debuts in March 2010 with Waking Up in the Land of Glitter (Grand Central Publishing). She is a writer and artist and has sold her handmade "Chicano Pop Art" crafts to hundreds of retailers including Bloomingdales, Target, and Hallmark. Cano-Murillo wrote a weekly syndicated Arizona Republic newspaper column for eight years, and has authored seven books including Crafty Chica's Art de la Soul and Crafty Chica's Guide to Artful Sewing. She is the founder of CraftyChica.com, a popular website to inspire women to brighten their lives with clever craft ideas. Cano-Murillo has a podcast series on iTunes, a web series on LifetimeTV.com, has been profiled in the New York Times, USA Today and NPR, and now has a Crafty Chica product line. Cano-Murillo lives in Phoenix, AZ, with her husband, two kids and five Chihuahuas.
◙ PUENTE ALUMNUS ALEX ESPINOZA TO READ FROM DEBUT NOVEL: On Thursday, October 1, at 6 p.m., in the Nordic Lounge, the Long Beach City College Puente Program will host author and Puente alumnus Alex Espinoza. The public is invited to this free event. Espinoza will read excerpts from his debut novel, Still Water Saints. The story follows the lives of Perla, the owner of a botánica in Agua Mansa, a fictional town in the Inland Empire, and the locals who visit her store.
Born in Tijuana, Mexico, Espinoza is the youngest of eleven children. He grew up in La Puente. In 1991, he moved to the Inland Empire and attended San Bernardino Valley College where he participated in the Puente Program. He earned a BA in Creative Writing at UC Riverside and an MFA at UC Irvine. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor of English at California State University, Fresno.
Puente is a two-semester program designed to increase the number of Latino and other educationally underrepresented students who successfully transfer to a four-year colleges and universities, complete their degrees, and to return to the community as mentors and leaders of future generations. Puente is open to all students.
This event is supported by Poets & Writers, Inc. through a grant received from The James Irvine Foundation.
Light refreshments will be served.
Parking is available for $1 in lot J at Clark Avenue and Carson Street Map.
◙ LOS ANGELES SOUTHWEST COLLEGE CELEBRATES HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH: Come join LASC in a full month of wonderful events. In particular, La Bloga notes the Latino Author Series held at LASC’s Library Art Gallery, 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.:
Thursday, October 1: Alex Espinoza, Author, Still Water Saints
Thursday, October 8: Reyna Grande, Author, Dancing with Butterflies
For the full calendar of events, visit LASC’s official website.
◙ That’s all for now. So, in the meantime, enjoy the intervening posts from mis compadres y comadres here on La Bloga. And remember: ¡Lea un libro!