Friday, June 19, 2009

New and Newer Books - Cristina Henríquez

From the publishers' websites

Lonesome Point
Ian Vasquez

(Minotaur - June, 2009)
The Varela brothers are bound by a decades-old secret from their childhood back home in their native Belize. Today Patrick is the Miami-Dade County commissioner and a probable candidate for mayor of Miami, while his brother, Leo, a sometime poet and mental health worker, spends more time getting high than anything else. Still, they’ve both been struggling for years to completely sever their ties to their father, his illegal businesses, and his secrets.

But those years quickly vanish the moment an old friend recently released from prison asks Leo to release a patient from the mental hospital where Leo works. He calls it a favor, but the threat is clear to Leo, Patrick, and---more dangerously---the men with a stake in Patrick’s political career. The request sets off a chain of events destined to lay bare once and for all the truth about what happened that night, and maybe even to pit brother against brother in their efforts to finally set things right.

Moody, atmospheric, and evocative, Lonesome Point showcases the distinct and rhythmic voice that makes Ian Vasquez a unique talent among today’s crime writers.

About the author
Ian Vasquez received his MFA while working on a psychiatric ward and counseling at-risk high school students. Raised in Belize and now a copy editor at the St. Petersburg Times, he lives with this family near Tampa Bay, Florida. This is his second novel.

The Angel's Game
Carlos Ruiz
Zafón, translated by Lucia Graves
(Doubleday - June, 2009)
In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man, David Martín, makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he has taken refuge in the world of books and spends his nights spinning baroque tales about the city's underworld. But perhaps his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked room deep within the house lie photographs and letters hinting at the mysterious death of the previous owner.

Like a slow poison, the history of the place seeps into his bones as he struggles with an impossible love. Close to despair, David receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli, who makes him the offer of a lifetime. He is to write a book unlike anything that has ever existed—a book with the power to change hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, and perhaps more. But as David begins the work, he realizes that there is a connection between his haunting book and the shadows that surround his home.

Set in the 1920s, Zafón takes us into a dark, gothic universe first seen in the Shadow of the Wind and creates a breathtaking adventure of intrigue, romance, and tragedy. Through a dizzily constructed labyrinth of secrets, the magic of books, passion, and friendship blend into a masterful story.

About the author
Carlos Ruiz Zafón, author of The Shadow of the Wind and other novels, is one of the world's most read and best-loved writers. His work has been translated into more than forty languages and published around the world, garnering numerous international prizes and reaching millions of readers. He divides his time between Barcelona and Los Angeles.

Here's the intro to this interview from the Oxford American website:

She's not yet thirty years old, but Cristina Henríquez has already: published two books of fiction (an award-winning collection of stories, Come Together, Fall Apart, and the just-released novel The World in Half); appeared in the country's most respected literary publications; and inspired so much praise from discerning critics* and devoted readers that you might expect her to be, well, just a little bit cocky. But when we met her at the Arkansas Literary Festival a couple of months ago, we found she is not only charming and energetic, but she is also hardworking and humble.

Born in Delaware, Henríquez spent her childhood summers in Panama with her father's extended family. Her intimate knowledge of that country, with its unique relationship to the U.S., informs most of her work.

Henríquez has lived in at least seven states and is now based in Chicago, where she lives with her husband and young daughter. Her first article in The Oxford American, an ode to the "Big Sam" statue near Houston, appeared in our 2006 Best of the South Issue. She will also appear in our forthcoming Southern Lit/Writing on Writing Issue.

We wanted to find out more about this intriguing writer, so we asked her.

* The New York Times says that Henríquez's prose is "fluoridated with traces of John Updike and Ann Beattie." The legendary novelist Isabel Allende describes Henriquez's stories as "truly unforgettable." The Chicago Sun-Times praises Henríquez's subtle use of hope in lieu of all-too-tidy conclusion.

Read the interview here.


In case you missed some of the excellent books published in 2008, our friend Teresa Márquez compiled this list of up-and-c0ming writers and their books. Thanks, Teresa.

From Here You Can Almost See the End of the Desert
Aaron Michael Morales
Momotombo Press Institute for Latino Studies University of Notre Dame
This is subversive and sly work, as knowing in its effect as it is exciting to read. For all its thrilling nature, and for all his hard-edge style, this is a deeply moral effort. Morales wrestles with nothing less than the parameters of the human soul.
Luis Alberto Urrea

The Smell of Old Lady Perfume
Claudia Guadalupe Martínez
Cinco Puntos Press
Martínez’ highly episodic first novel is a quiet story that is filled with such coming-of-age staples as mean girls, popularity contests, first romances, sibling rivalries, and more. However, readers will also find the book’s loving portrayal of Chela’s family, its nicely realized setting, and its artful exploration of the problems of assimilation to be both engaging and heartfelt.
. Read La Bloga's interview with the author here.

Las Ninas: A Collection of Childhood Memories
Sarah Rafael García

Floricanto Press
Las Niñas is a Latina Little Women, a real-life Judy Blume saga, alternately hilarious, touching, and poignant, but always written sharply. If you have a daughter, get rid of her American Girl collection and give her this book!
Gustavo Arellano

Esperanza: A Latina Story
Sandra C. López
Floricanto Press
Esperanza is an admirable and too real story of many Latino youth lacking role models, who find themselves lost and isolated in the paved jungles of the inner cities and overwhelmed by the dissonance of barrio life. Sandra C. López has created a resilient and likeable character, Esperanza, who seems closer to a naked truth-seeker than to a barrio kid desperately trying to get out of a crappy world, but not knowing exactly where she was going to. Highly Recommended.
Andrea Alessandra,
University of California, Berkeley.

Ghosts of El Grullo
Patricia Santana

University of New Mexico Press
Winner of the Premio Aztlán Literary Prize for 2008 from the National Latino Writers Conference and the History and Literary Arts program of the National Hispanic Cultural Center. Winner of the San Diego Book & Writing Award for General Fiction from the San Diego Book Awards Association (SDBAA).

The Case Runner
Carlos Cisneros
Arte Público Press
Best Novel - Mystery - English, International Latino Book Awards

Chicken Foot Farm
Anne Estevis
Arte Público Press
Life goes on - it always goes on, and one has to keep up with it to survive. "Chicken Foot Farm" is the story of a Mexican American family, set just after World War II has begun in Europe. They deal with random events that life throws at them - consuming fires, the senility of old age, sibling rivalry, approval of one's parents, and the omnipresent influence of a world war. Though all these things are horrible, it is heartwarming to see how the family copes with each of them. "Chicken Foot Farm" is a deftly written literary novel, highly recommended for community library collections.
Midwest Book Review

Desert Passage
P. S. Carrillo

Arte Público Press
A summer journey on a motor scooter becomes a transformative rite of passage for two teenage cousins.... Definitely a “guy” book, with a strong male-bonding subtext that should appeal to boys, who will enjoy Ramón and Miguel’s desert adventures.
Kirkus Reviews


With all this good writing available there's just no excuse for not reading a book. Take the time to enjoy the words.


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