Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer reading list

For those of you who are planning a much-deserved vacation (or staycation), here are a few recent releases that will bring great enjoyment as you sit back and re-charge that internal battery. And if you have a few titles you want to recommend to La Bloga readers, post a comment below. Remember: be safe, have fun, use sun screen and: ¡Lea un libro!

Best of Contemporary Mexican Fiction (Dalkey Archive Press) edited by Álvaro Uribe; translation edited by Olivia Sears (hardcover and paperback)

From the publisher: Sixteen of Mexico's finest fiction writers born after 1945 are collected in this compelling bilingual anthology, offering a glimpse of the rich tapestry of Mexican fiction, from small-town dramas to tales of urban savagery. Many of these writers, and most of these stories, have never before appeared in English. Readers will meet an embalmed man positioned in front of the TV, a mariachi singer suffering from mediocrity, a man's lifelong imaginary friend, and the town prostitute whose funeral draws a crowd from the highest rungs of the social ladder. The writers that Mexican editor Álvaro Uribe selected for this volume are deeply engaged in the literary life of Mexico and include prominent editors, translators, columnists, professors, and even the young founder of a new publishing collective. Between them they have received dozens of prizes, from the Xavier Villaurrutia prize to Guggenheim fellowships and other international awards.

Praise: "It is a fine book for either those curious about current Mexican fiction or those simply in search of some good things to read." —Scott Esposito for The Quarterly Conversation (read whole review here)

Christ Like (Queer Mojo) by Emanuel Xavier (paperback)

From the publisher: Mikey is a spirited but self-destructive survivor of sexual abuse, a gay Latino native New Yorker caught somewhere between Catholic guilt and club kid decadence looking to fit in as part of a family. Instead, Mikey delves into a demimonde of petty thieves, prostitutes, and pushers. Haunted by a father that Mikey has never met, a difficult childhood, recurring nightmares, the reality of death, and Christ, the story unfolds through the '80s and '90s following him on his journey through a fascinating world filled with Santeros, transsexuals and voguing queens.

Praise: “Christ Like is the harrowing first novel by Emanuel Xavier. When it was first published ten years ago, it announced the arrival of a unique and important new voice among both gay and Latino/a writers. Ten years later, the novel retains its compelling power as it takes the reader on a jagged journey though the New York club scene; in theme and naked urgency, it may be justly compared to Dancer from the Dance and Last Exit to Brooklyn, but its heartbeat is puro latino.” —Michael Nava, author of The Little Death and Rag and Bone

Land of a Thousand Dances: Chicano Rock 'n' Roll from Southern California (University of New Mexico Press) by David Reyes and Tom Waldman (paperback, revised edition)

From the publisher: Reyes and Waldman tell the stories of Chicano rock music in Southern California and the musicians who continue to make pop music with a Latin beat.

Praise: "It's fascinating to read this alternative history of pop music, as Land of a Thousand Dances offers a wealth of anecdotes, interviews, and facts that have never been so meticulously documented. The book helps fill one of the biggest gaps in the rock timeline, ensuring that rock 'n' roll's Chicano roots will not be forgotten." —A. V. Club

"Authors [David] Reyes and [Tom] Waldman give a flavorful overview of the ever-changing East L.A. scene. . . . They note that barrio culture, which so richly intertwines American and Mexican traditions, has given rise to groups who move through many different types of music with ease, as well as the type of fans who can appreciate them all." —Raza Report

Latinos and the Nation's Future (Arte Público Press) edited by Henry G. Cisneros (hardcover)

From the publisher: The outgrowth of a conference involving Latino leaders and exploring the impact of the dynamic growth of the Hispanic population in the U.S., Latinos and the Nation's Future contains essays by leading scholars, civil rights leaders and other professionals on issues impacting the advancement of Latino citizens—and therefore, all U.S. citizens. Contributors include Harry P. Pachón, Tamar Jacoby, Sarita E. Brown and Elena Ríos, M.D.

Although the future is never certain, it is inevitable that the Latino community is destined to shape the future of the United States, and Cisneros contends, it is imperative that Americans accept this fact and work to harness its growth, develop its educational potential, engage its community-building energies, and transform it into the next middle class.

Media coverage: Watch a panel discussion at Center for American Progress.

Postnationalism in Chicana/o Literature and Culture (University of Texas Press) by Ellie D. Hernández (hardcover)

From the publisher: In recent decades, Chicana/o literary and cultural productions have dramatically shifted from a nationalist movement that emphasized unity to one that openly celebrates diverse experiences. Charting this transformation, Postnationalism in Chicana/o Literature and Culture looks to the late 1970s, during a resurgence of global culture, as a crucial turning point whose reverberations in twenty-first-century late capitalism have been profound. Arguing for a post nationalism that documents the radical politics and aesthetic processes of the past while embracing contemporary cultural and sociopolitical expressions among Chicana/o peoples, Hernández links the multiple forces at play in these interactions. Reconfiguring text-based analysis, she looks at the comparative development of movements within women's rights and LGBTQI activist circles. Incorporating economic influences, this unique trajectory leads to a new conception of border studies as well, rethinking the effects of a restructured masculinity as a symbol of national cultural transformation. Ultimately positing that globalization has enhanced the emergence of new Chicana/o identities, Hernández cultivates important new understandings of borderlands identities and post nationalism itself.

Read an excerpt of the book.

Crazy Chicana in Catholic City: Poems (Ghost Road Press) by Juliana Aragón Fatula (paperback)

From the publisher: "Juliana Aragón Fatula is one of those rare poets who can grip the smoke of myth and pack it with her two hands into clay. She takes the largest subjects—the death of a parent, drug and alcohol abuse, even massacre and colonization—and transforms these into hats, lizards, coffee, pennies, bullets. She offers us the tiniest artifacts of the most beautiful, unthinkable human experiences. Here is a poet of great skill and resilience. Here is a master of the lyric of sorrows." —David Keplinger, author of The Prayers of Others

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