Friday, May 27, 2016

Arte Público Fall Catalog

Yes, summer hasn't officially begun yet - I know, I know.  But here's the Fall Catalog from one of our favorite publishers (it's at the top of my list.) Never too soon to think about holiday gifts, is it? Or those cold, stormy nights huddled around a cup of hot tea or Mexican chocolate, shared with a warm book?  Whatever, the good people at Arte Público Press have assembled an eclectic array of impressive literature for their end-of-year offerings. I'm only too happy to preview the catalog here on La Bloga.

From classic short fiction by a Chicano Lit pioneer to recovering the lost work of a border journalist of the early 20th century to Spanish tongue twisters, there is something for every type of reader in this catalog.  The featured titles include bilingual picture books with important life lessons; a retrospective collection of Puerto Rican poetry; best practices to help keep Latino youth out of the criminal justice system; and a look at an urban big city neighborhood from a child's point of view. 

And then there's my latest ...

[all content from Arte Público Press]


My Bad:  A Mile High Noir
Manuel Ramos
September 30, 2016

A gripping crime novel that brings together an ex-con and his attorney in a case that questions who's really the bad guy.

Ex-con Gus Corral is fresh out of jail and intent on keeping his nose clean. He’s living in his sister’s basement, which he shares with a cat or two, Corrine’s CDs and their father’s record collection. The blues music in particular strikes a chord, matching the way he feels about his current state.

Things start to look up when Gus gets a job working as an investigator for his attorney, Luis Móntez. An activist in the Chicano Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Móntez is slowing down and getting close to retirement, and he figures the felon can do the legwork on his cases. So when María Contreras comes to see the lawyer about her dead husband’s “business partner”—someone she has never heard of who’s demanding his share of the profits of a business she knew nothing about—Móntez has Gus look into the situation.

Narrating the story in alternating chapters, Gus and Luis recount their run-ins with suspicious characters as they learn that there’s more to the case than meets the eye. The widow’s husband owned and operated a local bar, not a Mexican folk art import company called Aztlán Treasures. And word on the street is that he was murdered on his boat in the Sea of Cortez. Soon, the dead bodies are piling up and the pair is surrounded by shadowy figures that point to money laundering, drug smuggling and even Mexican crime cartels.

The follow-up to Desperado, Ramos’ first novel featuring Gus Corral, My Bad races to a walloping conclusion in a Rocky Mountain blizzard, leaving fans of crime novels—and Chicano literature—eagerly awaiting the next installment in his mile-high noir.

Manuel Ramos is the author of numerous books, including Desperado: A Mile High Noir (Arte Público Press, 2013), The Skull of Pancho Villa and Other Stories (Arte Público Press, 2015) and Brown-on- Brown: A Luis Móntez Mystery (University of New Mexico, 2003). He lives in Denver, Colorado.


The Wetback and Other Stories
Ron Arias
September 30, 2016

This collection brings together the short fiction of an acclaimed journalist and Chicano literature pioneer.

In the title story, Mrs. Rentería shouts, “David is mine!” as she and her neighbors gather around the dead but handsome young man found in the dry riverbed next to their homes in a Los Angeles barrio. “Since when is his name David?” someone asks, and soon everyone is arguing about the mysterious corpse’s name, throwing out suggestions: Luis, Roberto, Antonio, Henry, Enrique, Miguel, Roy, Rafael. 

Many of the pieces in this collection take place in a Los Angeles neighborhood that used to be called Frog Town, now known as Elysian Valley. Ron Arias reveals the lives of his Mexican-American community: there’s Eddie Vera, who goes from school yard enforcer to jail bird and finally commando fighting in Central America; a boy named Tom, who chews his nails so incessantly that it leads to painful jalapeño chili treatments, banishment from the neighborhood school and ultimately incarceration in a school for emotionally disturbed kids; and Luisa, a young girl who can’t resist an illicit visit to Don Noriega, an old man the kids call El Mago who is known as a curandero in their neighborhood.

Most of the 14 stories included in this volume were originally published in journals that no longer exist, including El Grito, Caracol and Revista Chicano-Riqueña. Arias was one of the first to use magic realism and connect U.S. Hispanic literature to its more popular, Latin American cousin. This collection finally gathers together and makes available the short fiction of a pioneer in Mexican-American literature. 

Ron Arias, a journalist who worked for People magazine for 22 years, is the author of five non-fiction books, including Five Against the Sea (Dutton, 1989), Healing from the Heart with Dr. Mehmet Oz (Dutton, 1998) and White’s Rules: Saving Our Youth One Kid at a Time with Paul D. White (Random House, 2007). He is the author of a foundational Chicano novel, The Road to Tamazunchale (Bilingual Review Press, 1975). He lives with his wife in Hermosa Beach, California.


Diaspora: Selected and New Poems
Frank Varela
September 30, 2016

Puerto Rican poet reflects on identity, life and death in this moving collection.

“Now that my past is longer than my future, / I feel a diminishment inside my body. / Like in an overcoat, my arms are lost in the vastness of its sleeves.” In “Remembrance,” Frank Varela poignantly writes about the longing for loved ones—Aunt Consuelo, Doña Simona, Don Benacio -- who are all spirits now. He hears them gossiping in the kitchen, sipping coffee and eating pastries. Their ghosts are a comfort, he writes, “So why then do their faces / blur in my memory?”

In this collection of 55 poems, Varela writes about growing up Puerto Rican in Brooklyn, noting that there are two types of Puerto Ricans: “those born on the island, / others like me, / the children of exiles.” Pondering the universal sentiment of immigrant children, he notes that he was considered a spic in the United States and a gringo in the land of his parent’s birth. “All I wanted was the impossible: / To be the who I am in a land / unafraid of the me I have become.”

Like his grandfather who cleared ten acres in Cibuco, Puerto Rico, “to wrench subsistence from red clay,” Varela loves the land and what it provides. “The land is rich with decay and past seasons. / On my best days, I can reach into the soil / and marry my soul with the green world— / tarragon, escarole, lemon balm, sage.” Expressing love and appreciation for his Puerto Rican family and culture, Varela’s poems reflect on the universal joys and pains of everyday life. This collection, which contains a mix of previously published and new poems, offers a survey of the poet’s work from 1988 to the present.
Frank Varlea is the author of Serpent Underfoot (March/Abrazo Press, 1993), Bitter Coffee (March/Abrazo Press, 2001) and Caleb’s Exile (Elf Creative Workshop, 2009). He lives and works in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Overcoming Disparity:  Latino Young Men and Boys
Edited by Frank Acosta and Henry A.J. Ramos
September 30, 2016

Outlines the difficulties faced by Latino young men of color and provides strategies to increase their ability to lead successful lives.

Experts estimate that American taxpayers spend about $75 billion annually to support adult prisoners in detention, most of whom are men of color. Meanwhile, another generation of Latino young men and boys is at risk of being incarcerated.

This wide-ranging collection highlights the best practices developed and employed by community-based institutions to keep low income, at-risk Latino youth out of prison so they can lead productive lives. Focusing on the work of practitioners and organizations, most notably the non-profits Compadres National Network and La Plazita Institute, Overcoming Disparity shares strategies, tools and resources used to effectively deal with the challenges boys of color face because of poverty, injustice and discrimination.  

Based on the culturally grounded model called La Cultura Cura, the practices outlined emphasize Chicano/Latino history and use cultural expression and ritual to educate and create self-awareness, develop community programs and advance socially focused business ventures that encourage youth and community economic development.

The editors assert it is imperative that the nation’s fastest-growing community—including millions of impoverished Latino young men and boys—must be successful. Along with a curated sampling of leading tools, models and evaluations, Overcoming Disparity is a critically important text for policy makers, community builders, researchers, investors and
others concerned about American social policy and its impact on the economy and the lives of its citizens.

Frank de Jésus Acosta is the author of The History of Barrios Unidos (Arte Público Press, 2007). Henry A.J. Ramos is the author of The American GI Forum: In Pursuit of the Dream, 1948-1983 (Arte Público Press, 1998). They are the co-editors of Latino Young Men and Boys in Search of Justice (Arte Público Press, 2016).


P. Galindo:  Obras (in)completas de José Díaz
Edited by Manuel M. Martín-Rodríguez
November 30, 2016

This volume recovers the Spanish-language writings of a Mexican-American poet and journalist.

Born in 1898 on the southern side of the Río Grande River, José Díaz would go on to become a journalist and poet whose work now illuminates life along the Texas-Mexico border in the first half of the 20th century. His poetry and prose were published in numerous Spanish-language newspapers in Texas—much of it under the pseudonym P. Galindo —beginning in the 1920s.

Díaz wrote with humor about social and political issues, frequently using the “décima,” a type of poetry popular in previous generations. He chronicled the lives of his people, writing about everything from the start of the school year to the effect of the Cold War on the local economy. Of particular interest are his observations on the racism experienced by Mexican Americans during that time
. In addition to poetry and journalistic writings,P. Galindo: Obras (in)completas de José Díaz contains riddles, letters and telegrams. 

Scholar and editor Manuel M. Martín-Rodríguez writes in his introduction that Díaz’s work is notable because he wrote for a literate, Spanish-speaking working class. Published as part of the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage project, this book introduces students and scholars to the work of an important writer who documented life in South Texas from the Great Depression to the Chicano Civil Rights Movement. This is fascinating reading for those interested in the history of the Texas-Mexico border region, Spanish-language newspapers in the United States and their role in the community.

Manuel M. Martín-Rodríguez, a full professor and founding faculty member at the University of California, Merced, has written and edited numerous scholarly books and articles on Chicano literature, including The Textual Outlaw: Reading John Rechy in the 21st Century, co-edited with Beth Hernandez-Jason (Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, 2015), and With a Book in Their Hands: Chicano/a Readers and Readerships Across the Centuries (University of New Mexico Press, 2014).

Rooster Joe and the Bully/El Gallo Joe y el abusón
Xavier Garza
October 31, 2016

Acclaimed kids' book author returns with an exciting bilingual novel about middle school life.

Joe López is in seventh grade, and he dreams of being an artist as good and successful as his grandfather. He’s thrilled when the new art teacher compliments him on his pencil drawings of roosters and offers to teach him how to paint with oils. She even suggests that he might want to enter his piece in the county fair!

Still thinking about the possibility of painting with oils and not just kids’ tempera paint, Joe and his best friend Gary see Luis, a chubby sixth grader, running down the hall. Soon they see why he’s running: Martin Corona, the school’s biggest bully, is in hot pursuit. They watch as he slams Luis against the lockers and demands money. Much to his surprise, Joe finds
himself defending Luis. Luckily, the vice principal shows up just in time to rescue both Luis and Joe.

Reluctant to be a tattletale, Joe tries to avoid Martin and his gang. Even though he knows it’s just a matter of time before Martin exacts his revenge, fear doesn’t keep him from going to football games and trying to impress the girl he likes. And when he meets Martin Corona under the bleachers after school one day, it’s a conversation with his Grandpa Jessie about la lucha—or everyone’s individual fight—that helps Joe and his friends not only survive the encounter, but put the bully in his place.

This bilingual “flip” book for intermediate readers also includes Garza’s black and white sketches depicting bullies, heroes and the roosters that Joe loves to draw. Award-winning author and illustrator Xavier Garza once again writes an action-packed novel that will appeal to all young teens.

Xavier Garza is a prolific author, artist and storyteller. His work includes Maximilian & the Mystery of the Guardian Angel (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011), a Pura Belpré Honor Book; Kid Cyclone Fights the Devil and Other Stories / Kid Ciclón se enfrenta a El Diablo y otras historias (Piñata Books, 2010); and The Donkey Lady Fights La Llorona and Other Stories /La señora Asno se enfrenta a la Llorona y otros cuentos (Piñata Books, 2015). He lives with his family in San Antonio, Texas.


El torneo de trabalenguas/The Tongue Twister Tournament
Nicolás Kanellos - Illustrations by Anne Vega
October 31, 2016

This bilingual picture book features tongue twisters in English and Spanish

“Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, doggies, kitties and mousies: Welcome to the grand Tongue Twister Tournament!” And so begins this championship in which the best tongue torturer will win the tongue twister trophy.

The competitors include a variety of quirky characters, including Lengua de Lagarto, or Lizard Tongue, whose tongue is tied “just so.” There’s Grumpy Granny, who raps about a raggedy cat, and El Chupacabras, who loves to eat critters, “even insects are for me / cows and cats and doggies too /chupa chupa chupa cabras, BOO!”

Many of the tongue twisters included in this picture book will be familiar to Spanish-speaking children—and their parents too! But the book also includes tried-and-true tongue twisters familiar to English speakers, like “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.” With colorful illustrations depicting the unique contestants, this bilingual collection of phrases that are difficult to say quickly will challenge children to excel in both English and Spanish.

Nicolás Kanellos is the Brown Foundation Professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of Houston and founder-director of Arte Público Press. He is the author of numerous books on U.S. Hispanic literature and theatre for adults, including Hispanic Immigrant Literature: El Sueño del Retorno (University of Texas Press, 2011). He practiced these tongue twisters while growing up in New York and Puerto Rico. He lives with his family in Houston, Texas.
Anne Vega is the illustrator of Magda’s Tortillas / Las tortillas de Magda (Piñata Books, 2000) and Magda’s Piñata Magic / Magda y la piñata mágica (Piñata Books, 2001). She lives and works in Columbus, Ohio.


A Surprise for Teresita/Una sorpresa para Teresita
Virginia Sánchez-Korrol - Illustrations by Carolyn Dee Flores
November 30, 2016

This bilingual picture book lovingly celebrates family relationships while depicting a Puerto Rican community in New York City.

When Teresita opens her eyes that morning, she knows it’s a special day. It’s her birthday, and now she’s a big girl. She’s seven! And her Tío Ramón has promised her a surprise. She can’t wait to find out what it is!

“Is it time for Tío Ramón to come to our block?” she asks her mamá excitedly as she sits down for breakfast. But it’s too early. Her uncle has to take his snow cone cart to the other blocks before he comes to theirs. All day, Teresita watches for the green and white cart. She listens for Tío Ramón calling, “Snow cones, cold snow cones. ¡Piraguas! ¡Piraguas frías!”

While she waits for her uncle, she jumps rope, plays games with her friends and watches the goings-on in her neighborhood. Mothers hold their young children’s hands as they walk to the corner bodega to buy groceries. Boys ride bikes and play stickball. Older people sit at windows and enjoy the sights and sounds of their community. And coming from far up the block, where water sprays from an open fire hydrant, Teresita finally hears the sound of her uncle’s voice. What will her surprise be?!?

Set in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in New York City, this bilingual picture book for children ages 4–8 captures both the daily life of an urban community and a child’s excitement about her birthday surprise. Children will be inspired to look at—and maybe even write about—their own neighborhoods with new eyes.

Virginia Sánchez-Korrol, professor emerita at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, is the author of several books, including Feminist and Abolitionist: The Story of Emilia Casanova (Piñata Books, 2013). She lives in Piermont, New York. 

Carolyn Dee Flores is the illustrator of Dale, dale, dale: Una fiesta de números / Hit It, Hit It, Hit It: A Fiesta of Numbers (Piñata Books, 2014) and Canta, Rana, canta / Sing, Froggie, Sing (Piñata Books, 2013), both of which were named to the Texas Library Association’s Tejas Star Reading List. She lives in San Antonio, Texas.



Manuel Ramos is the author of several novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction books and articles.  His collection of short stories, The Skull of Pancho Villa and Other Stories, was a finalist for the 2016 Colorado Book AwardMy Bad: A Mile High Noir is scheduled for publication by Arte Público Press in September, 2016.

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