Friday, May 18, 2007

Land of Enchantment

Manuel Ramos

As writers, editors, critics, students, and readers gather in Albuquerque at the National Hispanic Cultural Center for the National Latino Writers Conference (May 17 - 19), I thought it would be appropriate to focus on a few titles with a New Mexican theme. Here they are.


Coming later this year from University of New Mexico Press:

Josefina Niggli, Mexican American Writer: A Critical Biography
Elizabeth Coonrod Martínez

From the UNM Press website:
"This is the story of a remarkable woman whose artistic mission was to relate Mexican cultural history to English-language readers. A world-renowned playwright in the 1930s and best-selling novelist in the 1940s, Josefina Niggli published at a time when Chicana/o literature was not yet recognized as such. Her works revealed Mexico from an insider's point of view, although she found herself struggling with publishers who wanted an American hero pitted against a Mexican villain.

"Niggli's life experience transpired in Mexico, Texas, the East Coast in the pre-World War II years, and North Carolina, with jaunts to Hollywood and to England, all in an era when few U.S. women writers were able to publish. Only recently has Niggli received critical attention as scholars of Chicana/o literature recognize her as one of the earliest Mexican American writers to focus on life lived between two cultures and nations. This scholarly biography, which includes selections from some of Niggli's unrecognized writings, is designed to solidify her place in the literary canon."

The Key to Grandpa's House
Cristina Ortega, illustrated by Luis Armando Ortega

"Under a smooth gray rock on the outside windowsill of a home in Chimayo, New Mexico, sits la llave--the key--to the home of Grandpa and Grandma Ortega. The key has always been there for family, friends, and neighbors to use.

"When Grandma Ortega passes away, some things change and some things stay the same. Grandpa now lives alone, but his life is still filled with loving family and friends and la llave is still resting underneath its rock.

"Cristina Ortega's latest children's story represents life on a northern New Mexico plaza while highlighting the respect, friendship, trust, commitment, and love found in the community. Spanish phrases within the text and detailed illustrations by Cristina's brother, Luis Armando Ortega, combine to demonstrate to children the importance of these timeless values.

Reading level: grade 4 and up"

Speaking of New Mexico, Spanish author Javier Sierra releases his latest novel in June, and it has a unique New Mexican connection. In The Lady in Blue (Atria), an historical mystery triggers action from a retired psychic spy of a top secret U.S. Air Force program and several cardinals in Rome. At the center of the mystery is a 16th Century Spanish nun who was accused by the Inquisition of traveling more than 500 times to the New Mexico territories by means of her power to bilocate. The publisher says that this novel is based on a "famous" Southwestern legend that a strange Lady in Blue appeared to Native Americans with news of the arrival of the first conquistadores. So, who knows more about this legend?

The Mystery Writers of America has teamed up with St. Martins in a First Mystery Novel Contest. The winner will be offered a contract with a $10,000 advance. Read all the rules
at this website.

A trio of reading recommendations and an opportunity -- not a lot, but something at least. Keep reading my comrades here on La Bloga. They are the best. As for me,


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just want you to know we are having a great time at the conference - gearing up for Day 2 - and I will have a full report on Sunday! Braulio Munoz thought I was a La Bloga contributor and I had to tell him I was just a fan :)