Monday, July 23, 2007

Manuel Muñoz Shortlisted For Frank O'Connor Prize

Authors from five countries, including two from the United States, have been shortlisted for this year's Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize. This is the third year of the prize, which is funded by Cork City Council, administered by the Munster Literature Centre in Cork, and is awarded in association with The Irish Times.

The €35,000 prize will be presented during the closing ceremony of the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Festival in Cork this September. The award was originally established as part of Cork's year as European Capital of Culture in 2005 and is the most valuable prize in the world for a short story collection.

The authors shortlisted for the 2007 prize include two filmmakers, an actor and the erstwhile chief executive of two of the world's largest digital media companies.

They are: British writer Simon Robson for The Separate Heart (Jonathan Cape); Olaf Olafsson, from Iceland, for Valentines (Pantheon Books); Etgar Keret, from Israel, for Missing Kissinger (Chatto & Windus); Miranda July, from the United States, for No One Belongs Here More Than You (Canongate); Charlotte Grimshaw, from New Zealand, for Opportunity (Random House); and Manuel Muñoz, from the United States, for The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue (Algonquin Books).

The judges this year are authors Rick Moody, Segun Afolabi and Nuala Ní Chonchúir, and the chairman of the panel is Munster Literature Centre director Pat Cotter.

If you missed it, La Bloga recently interviewed Muñoz.

◙ Ramón Rentaría, book editor for the El Paso Times, discusses Ana Castillo’s forthcoming novel, The Guardians (Random House). He notes that advance industry reviews have been positive for this new book which officially arrives on the bookshelves July 31. He also notes: “Castillo will introduce the novel Friday at a Border Book Festival book release party in Mesilla. She will then launch a major book tour, which will take her to various cities in New Mexico, Colorado and California and later to the East Coast and her native Chicago.” Also in the El Paso Times, Sergio Troncoso offers a review of the same novel stating, in part: "This is a wonderful novel that does justice to life on the Mexican-American border."

◙ The new issue of Beltway Poetry Review features five poets including Francisco Aragón, director of Letras Latinas at the University of Notre Dame. Check out Aragón’s piece in PoetryFoundation on six poets featured in his anthology, The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press).

Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural – the renowned bookstore/cultural center from the Northeast San Fernando Valley – will be holding its first annual “Celebration of Community & Culture – Si Se Puede! / Yes We Can!” benefit on July 29, 2007, at 6 p.m. sharp, at the beautiful, historic Ford Amphitheatre.

The artists uniting to benefit Tía Chucha's include: the comedy and social commentary of nationally acclaimed Chicano/Latino theater troupe Culture Clash (Zorro in Hell, Water & Power, Chavez Ravine), Latin Jazz/R&B by East L.A. legends Tierra featuring the Salas Brothers(Together), poetry by award winning author and founder of Tía Chucha's Luis J. Rodriguez(Always Running, The Republic of East L.A.), spoken word by founding member and drummer of The Doors, John Densmore, world punk by genre bending upstarts Ollin (San Patricios), foot shaking ska/funk/cumbia by new Eastside sensations Upground, electrifying consciousness hip hop by Xela and El Vuh, ceremonial danza azteca by Tem achtía Quetzalcoatl, and hosted by the hilarious new comedian Ernie G. (Comedy Central).

Tía Chucha’s was part of a cultural complex that included a café, bookstore, art gallery, cyber café, performance space, and workshop center in the community of Sylmar for more than five years. In that time, writers such as Sandra Cisneros and Victor Villaseñor performed there along with the talents of Cultural Clash, Lalo Alcaraz, Quetzal, the Blues Project, Chusma Theater, Bill Santiago, the late Lalo Guerrero, and many other musicians, theater groups, comedians, artists, writers, and community leaders. Unfortunately, last January, their landlords served Tía Chucha’s with a notice to vacate – to be replaced by a multi-million dollar laundry operation. The community rallied behind this vital cultural space, which now has a smaller location in the Lake View Terrace community.

For tickets and additional information, click here.

◙ Alvaro Huerta’s story, “Petty Hustling Is Not So Easily Picked Up By Amateurs,” appeared last week in the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine. Huerta is a writer, social activist and doctoral student at UC Berkeley's department of city and regional planning. Raised in East Los Angeles, he lives in Albany with his wife, Antonia, and son, Joaquin. His short story, “Los Dos Smileys,” is featured in the forthcoming Latinos in Lotusland: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature (Bilingual Press).

◙ All done. So, until next Monday, enjoy the intervening posts from my compadres y comadres at La Bloga. ¡Lea un libro! --Daniel Olivas

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