Friday, December 15, 2006

Spring is Bustin' Out

Manuel Ramos

[note -- all blurbs are from the publishers]

From the University of New Mexico Press Spring, 2007 catalog:

The First Tortilla: A Bilingual Story
Rudolfo Anaya
Spanish translation by Enrique R. Lamadrid Illustrations by Amy Córdova

The First Tortilla is a moving, bilingual story of courage and discovery. A small Mexican village is near starvation. There is no rain, and the bean and squash plants are dying.

Jade, a young village girl, is told by a blue hummingbird to take a gift to the Mountain Spirit. Then it will send the needed rain.

Burning lava threatens her, but Jade reaches the top of the volcano. The Mountain Spirit is pleased. It allows the ants in a nearby cave to share their corn with Jade. The corn was sweet and delicious and Jade took some back to save the village.

Jade grinds the dry corn, adds water, and makes dough. She pats the masa and places it on hot stones near the fire. She has made the first tortilla. Soon the making of corn tortillas spreads throughout Mexico and beyond.
Reading level: grade 3 and up (May)

Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration
Sam Quinones

Sam Quinones's first book, True Tales From Another Mexico, was acclaimed for the way it peered into the corners of that country for its larger truths and complexities. Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream, Quinones's second collection of nonfiction tales, does the same for one of the most important issues of our times: the migration of Mexicans to the United States.

Quinones has covered the world of Mexican immigrants for the last thirteen years--from Chicago to Oaxaca, Michoacan to southeast Los Angeles, Tijuana to Texas. Along the way, he has uncovered stories that help illuminate all that Mexicans seek when they come north, how they change their new country, and are changed by it.

Here are the stories of the Henry Ford of velvet painting in Ciudad Juarez, the emergence of opera in Tijuana, the bizarre goings-on in the L.A. suburb of South Gate, and of the drug-addled colonies of Old World German Mennonites in Chihuahua. Through it all winds the tale of Delfino Juarez, a young construction worker, and modern-day Huckleberry Finn, who had to leave his village to change it. (May)

Conversations with Contemporary Chicana and Chicano Writers
Hector A. Torres, Editor
Hector A. Torres conducted these interviews with today's popular Chicano/a writers, asking each about language and life between languages, about the creative drive that has guided them in their craft and commits them to their art. In sharing their responses, Torres reveals a brief biography of each author and a concise examination of their writings. Taking their stories and essays individually and collectively, Torres explains how each author reiterates issues that have concerned Mexican Americans since at least 1848.

Chicano/a authors know that an abundance of politics can spoil a story, as can too little. The writers included here span historical terrain, first, under the shadow of Manifest Destiny and, then, under America's imperial sovereignty stance. Interviewees include Rolando Hinojosa ("I Reflect the Way Valleyites Act and React"), Arturo Islas ("I Don't Like Labels and Categories"), Erlinda Gonzales-Berry ("On the New Mexican Borderlands"), Gloria Anzaldúa ("The Author Never Existed"), Ana Castillo (two separate interviews), Sandra Cisneros (two separate interviews), Pat Mora ("I Was Always at Home in Language"), Richard Rodriguez ("I Don't Think I Exist"), Demetria Martinez ("To Speak as Global Citizens"), and Kathleen Alcalá ("To Tell the Counternarratives"). (March)

From the Northwestern University Press Spring/Summer 2007 catalog:

A Luis Leal Reader, edited and with an introduction by Ilan Stavans
Since his first publication in 1942, Luis Leal has likely done more than any other writer or scholar to foster a critical appreciation of Mexican, Chicano, and Latin American literature and culture. This volume, bringing together a representative selection of Leal's writings from the past sixty years, is at once a wide-ranging introduction to the most influential scholar of Latino literature and a critical history of the field as it emerged and developed through the twentieth century.

Instrumental in establishing Mexican literary studies in the United States, Leal's writings on the topic are especially instructive, ranging from essays on the significance of symbolism, culture, and history in early Chicano literature to studies of the more recent use of magical realism and of individual New Mexican, Tejano, and Mexican authors such as Juan Rulfo, Carlos Fuentes, Jose Montoya, and Mariano Azuela. Clearly and cogently written, these writings bring to bear an encyclopedic knowledge, a deep understanding of history and politics, and an unparalleled command of the aesthetics of storytelling, from folklore to theory. This collection affords readers the opportunity to consider--or reconsider--Latino literature under the deft guidance of its greatest reader. (July)

New Short Fiction from Cuba, edited by Jacqueline Loss and Esther Whitfield
With the disintegration of the Soviet bloc, the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Cuba's political future, the onslaught of tourists, and the economic upheavals in their society, Cubans face an important, perhaps epochal, moment of cultural change. It is a moment amply and complexly reflected in the fiction collected here, twelve short stories written in Cuba during the past ten years and published in English for the first time with the collaboration of some of today's finest translators.

An eclectic selection, the stories offer an exhilarating sense of a rich literary diversity and cultural history, an experience of Cuban literature that has rarely been available to an English audience. They differ widely, even wildly, in style and theme: from an impromptu encounter with Ernest Hemingway to an imagined romance mapped onto Cuba's foundational nineteenth-century novel; from a witty, Borgesian satire on bureaucracy and officialist identity to a gothic adventure in homosexual voyeurism and mental illness; from an allegorical travelogue set in repressive China to a semi-surreal celebration of angels in Havana. These are the voices of Cuban fiction today, reflecting the past, anticipating the future, and composing in their infinite variety the stories of their culture. (May)

From the Arte Público Spring, 2007 catalog:

The Lady From Buenos Aires: A Willie Cuesta Mystery by John Lantigua
Willie Cuesta wears tropical shirts, cool linen slacks, and Mexican sandals to ward off the Florida heat. Formerly a Miami Police Department detective, he now works as chief of security at his brother’s salsa club while he waits for new clients at his detective agency in Little Havana.
After meeting Fiona Bonaventura, Willie quickly realizes that her predicament isn’t a straight forward missing-persons case. The elegant Argentinean is convinced that she has found her dead sister’s daughter. Her sister Sonia disappeared during Argentina’s “dirty war” more than twenty years ago, but her pregnant body was never found. Fiona has never stopped searching for her sister’s child, and several times has been steps away from finding the girl she is convinced is her niece. This time she has tracked the girl to Miami, and Fiona is determined not to lose her again.

As Willie delves into the case, a host of shady characters surface with ties to the Argentinean military dictatorship responsible for the death and disappearance of thousands of citizens: Sarah Ingram, who teaches tango in a dance studio in a quiet, suburban neighborhood; her polo-playing husband who makes it clear he won’t tolerate questions about his intelligence work in Argentina years ago; a terrified man who survived torture and imprisonment during the “dirty war” and may be able to identify some of his torturers if he can set his fear aside; and even an Argentine diplomat.

When people associated with the case start turning up dead and Willie finds himself held captive in the back of an SUV, he knows for sure that death squads from another time and place have arrived in Miami. As the vehicle careens through the pre-dawn streets of Miami, Willie Cuesta must hang on desperately as his latest case spirals out of control. (March)

Migrations and Other Stories by Lisa Hernández
Past and present are interwoven in this award-winning collection of 11 stories dealing with migration across geographical and cultural boundaries. Set in California and Mexico, the characters in these stories struggle with all that life throws their way, including abusive boyfriends, separation from loved ones, and unfaithful spouses, all in an uneasy search for a balance between a Mexican past and a Mexican-American future.

With vivid brushstrokes, Hernández paints a collage of Latinas who work vigorously to overcome drastic situations. A woman is convinced that her brother-in-law’s constant fooling around with co-eds caused her sister’s heart attack, and she obsesses about getting revenge even if it means turning to brujería. A young woman who has flunked out of college multiple times finally goes home to confront the memories of her father’s sexual abuse that she hasn’t been able to flee or forget. On her deathbed, Chata reveals to her daughter that when she was growing up in a small Mexican village, her first love was a beautiful prostitute.

Themes of survival, identity, and cultural conflict are woven through the stories in this intriguing and entertaining collection, the winner of the University of California-Irvine’s Chicano / Latino Literary Prize. (March)

Best-selling fantasy/mystery author Mario Acevedo will teach a fast-paced Genre-Novel class intended for the serious writer eager to get a book published. Polish your manuscript with the skills you will learn in this eight-week seminar. Limited class size. Starts January 8, 2007 at the nonprofit Lighthouse Writers Workshop in the historic Ferril House, 2123 Downing, Denver, CO. Contact or 303-297-1185.

These fellowships begin in August, 2007 and last for one year. They are for "the next generation of journalists for the public radio system." Candidates must be in their last year of community or four-year college, graduate school, or out of school for one year or less as of December 31, 2006. Fellows are awarded a stipend of more than $37,000, plus benefits. Candidates should be interested in current events and in furthering a career in news. The deadline is December 31, 2006. Full description and downloadable application at Questions can be answered by Stacey Foxwell at 202-513-2866.

Daniel Valdez, who, along with his brother Luis Valdez, formed the first Chicano Theater company, El Teatro Campesino, will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Colorado at the UCD commencement ceremony in Denver on December 16, 2006. The University honors Valdez as a musical visionary and legendary figure in Latino art forms, cultural traditions, and social history. Valdez and Tony Garcia, Artistic Directory of Su Teatro, will be honored at a champagne reception following the 7:30 performance of The Miracle at Tepeyac on December 16 at the King Center on the Auraria Campus. Garcia recently was named a United States Artists fellow (see my post last week). Congrats to Daniel (and Tony).

Finally, want to know what a Chicano crime fiction writer thinks of a Puerto Rican crime fiction writer's upcoming book (The Concrete Maze)? Check it out here.


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