Monday, June 09, 2014

Just released by San Diego State University Press: "Things We Do Not Talk About: Exploring Latino/a Literature through Essays and Interviews"

ISBN-10:193853705X; ISBN-13:978-1-938537-05-9
$21 • paperback • 202 pp.
Now available for purchase here.

In this candid and wide-ranging collection of personal essays and interviews published by San Diego State University Press, award-winning author Daniel A. Olivas explores Latino/a literature at the dawn of the 21st century.

While his essays address a broad spectrum of topics from the Mexican-American experience to the Holocaust, Olivas always returns to and wrestles with queries that have no easy answers: How does his identity as a Chicano reflect itself through his writing? What issues and subjects are worth exploring? How do readers react to the final results? Can literature affect political discourse and our daily lives?

Olivas has explored similar questions through almost a decade’s worth of interviews with Latino/a authors that have appeared in various online literary publications. While professors and students alike have already relied upon many of the interviews as source material for scholarly examination, twenty-eight of these incisive and frank dialogues are now collected in one volume for the first time. Olivas dives deep to discover how these authors create prose and poetry while juggling families, facing bigotry, struggling with writer’s block, and deciphering a fickle publishing industry. This roster of interview subjects is a who’s who of contemporary Latino/a literature:

Aaron A. Abeyta • Daniel Alarcón • Francisco Aragón • Gustavo Arellano
Gregg Barrios • Richard Blanco • Margo Candela • Susana Chávez-Silverman
Sandra Cisneros • Carlos E. Cortés • Carmen Giménez Smith • Ray González
Rigoberto González • Octavio González • Reyna Grande • Myriam Gurba
Rubén Martínez • Michael Luis Medrano • Aaron Michael Morales • Manuel Muñoz
Salvador Plascencia • Sam Quinones • Ilan Stavans • Héctor Tobar
Justin Torres • Sergio Troncoso • Luis Alberto Urrea • Helena María Viramontes

Things We Do Not Talk About will undoubtedly become a natural companion to the study and enjoyment of contemporary Latino/a literature. Cover artwork is by Perry Vasquez.


Many of the subjects that Olivas addresses in this book are important to current conversations about Latino literature, especially among students and writers. And not just Latinos — conversations about using multiple languages and Latino literary traditions like magical realism require more sophistication. Olivas’s Things We Do Not Talk About can be a useful tool to incite any reader into deeper thought not only about these subjects, but also about questions of authority and responsibility. These can be complicated topics, but Olivas leaves plenty of room for your own nuanced answers.” –Carribean Fragoza, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Olivas’s penetrating meditations on all facets of the life of Latino fiction writing, including his own as a Latino lawyer eking out a living in the global conundrum of LA—dazzle! His cornucopia of incisive interviews with many of our great contemporary Latino/a poets, novelists, short story, and non-fiction authors—astound! Wide ranging and yet laser focused, Olivas gives us the total portrait of Latino/a letters today.” —Frederick Luis Aldama, Arts & Humanities Distinguished Professor of English at The Ohio State University and author of The Routledge Concise History of Latino/a Literature

“With passion and earnestness Daniel Olivas reveals that the preoccupations of the contemporary Chicana/o writer are vast and complex. Most Chicanas/os and Latinas/os would attest to this, of course, but how often do we see this range in published form? Through personal essays and probing interviews, Olivas tackles not only the craft of writing but also its Moral implications. We are lucky to have such a generous author in our midst.” —Maceo Montoya, author of The Deportation of Wopper Barraza



msedano said...

congratulations, daniel! looking forward to reading this. mvs

Manuel Ramos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Manuel Ramos said...

Congrats, Daniel. Best of luck with the book.

Daniel Olivas said...

¡Gracias! It includes several interviews and essays that first appeared here on La Bloga. It is in large part a testament to work we've been doing here these last 10 years.

Storiesand Queer said...

Thank you for including the poster for the S&Q reading, Daniel!

Concerned Chicana said...

Another great book by a Latina author, but sadly another absurd cover that reflects that tourist mentality/sensibility that anything involving Mexicanas must involve borders, dry lands, nopalitos, blood, calaveras, mustaches, crosses, and colorful symbols. I am so tired of otherwise good and important books perpetuating the mythos that we Mexicanas are a "magical," surreal, colorfully exotic, and desolate people. This is just Castaneda-Khalo cliché. Felicidades, pero tambien que lastima, Daniel.

Rene Colato Lainez said...

Muchas felicidades Daniel

Anonymous said...

Felicidades, Daniel, on your latest, y suerte!

Daniel Olivas said...

Thank you all for the kinds words of support. As I've noted, this book is in large part a natural offshoot of what we here at La Bloga do. I do want to address the one comment about the cover artwork by Perry Vasquez, a wonderful painter and friend of mind since 1978 (we were college friends and fellow artists): While I understand the desire to avoid using a "Castaneda-Khalo cliché," the work in question is not such a piece. If you study the image carefully and also look at Perry's other artwork, one can see a great deal of satire and poking fun at cultural clichés. Perry blends ancient, modern and post-modern elements onto the outline of Coatlicue, "The Mother of Gods," who is the Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon, stars, and Huitzilopochtli, the god of the sun and war. Perry's painting is a fantastical blending of superheroes and historical figures and fantasmas and machinery and more. I think it is a brilliant piece that captures the broad array of issues discussed in my book. If you want to learn more about Perry Vazquez's art, visit: In any event, I respect your opinion(even while disagreeing with it), and appreciate your words of congratulations.