Sunday, May 06, 2012

Celebrating Writing!

"Super Moon," Cinco de Mayo, and 
Celebrating the novels of 
Belinda Acosta & Daniel Olivas

by Amelia M.L. Montes 

Saludos Dear Bloga Readers—
Were you out last night, watching the “Super Luna?”  If you were not, here’s a picture I took of it in Lincoln, Nebraska.  The moon looked especially bright and large because its orbital path last night happened to be closest to the earth.  The moon’s movimiento brought us together.  On Facebook many were posting their photos of the moon.  I loved seeing them:  L.A. artist GRONK posted a picture of the moon over downtown Los Angeles, friends posted images of the moon over rooftops in San Francisco, over El Paso, Tejas y mas.  It was a moment of virtual unity in luna gazing. 

              Depiction of the Puebla battle

Yesterday was also Cinco de Mayo—a time to remember Puebla, Mexico and their batalla (battle) over the French in 1862.  The French army had already invaded Veracruz and were heading toward Mexico City with a stop in Puebla. Eight thousand well-equipped French soldiers didn’t expect to be met by around four thousand soldiers and civilians whose hearts and souls were set on defending their homes, land, and people. The Mexican “fuerza” used every kind of tool, rock, sharp utensil (in addition to ammunition) they could find and saved the day.  

In Political Evolution of the Mexican People, historian Justo Sierra states that if Puebla had not been able to defeat the French, the French would have more than likely continued their march and eventually headed north to help the Confederates in the U.S. Civil War. Instead, they retreated – at least for that year.  The story is long and complex but this is enough to either remind you of the correct history of Cinco de Mayo (it is NOT Mexico’s Independence Day) or to finally give you the facts.  I always encourage my students to first study and understand Cinco de Mayo so they are cognizant of what they are celebrating (but I’m not always successful).  Mexico does not really celebrate this historical event in any significant way. It reminds me of the fact that Ireland really does not celebrate St. Patrick’s Day to the extent that the U.S. does.  I do not celebrate it either. I would be more likely to celebrate an event like this one pictured here: 

People coming together with their guitars.  This picture is entitled:  "Art of Revolution."  Andale.  I like that much better. 


And speaking of art and revolution, more and more of our Chicana and Chicano artists/writers are coming out with new books or their most recent books are being acknowledged and recognized. 

Two weeks ago (April 21st) at the “Los Angeles Times Festival of Books,” writer Belinda Acosta and our own La Bloga columnist and writer Daniel Olivas were honored for their books!  This award, “Latino Books into Film” was created by actor Edward James Olmos to encourage the film industry to invest in our stories—to bring our novels and memoirs to the screen.  Hopefully we will see Belinda and Daniel’s works translated into film soon. 

Belinda Acosta
In the category of “Kids and Family,” Belinda was awarded First Place” for her first novel, Dramas, Damas, and Ana Ruiz.  The drama of preparing for a quinceañera (that, at first, the daughter vehemently resists) only magnifies mother/daughter conflicts, familial struggles and the role of extended family in a community.  

Her second novel, Sisters Strangers, and Starting Over won First Place in the category of Suspense or Mystery.  Here, the mother Beatriz Sánchez Milligan is struggling to come to terms with her niece Celeste’s disappearance.  Again, family and community is central in this story.

Belinda Acosta has written and published plays, short stories, and essays.  As a journalist, her work has appeared in the Austin American-Statesman, the San Antonio Express-News, The San Antonio Current, Poets and Writers Magazine.  She has also been a columnist for The Austin Chronicle. She has produced, directed, and performed in a multi-media dance-theater performance of La Llorona. She also appeared on Latino USA, reading her personal essay, Gran Baile.  Since publishing her two award-winning novels, she has been working on a third novel set in Lincoln, Nebraska where she was born and raised. 

Daniel Olivas
Daniel Olivas’ recently published novel, The Book of Want won First Place in the category of “Romantic Comedy” for the “Books into Film” awards.  

And at the 2012 “Independent Publisher Book Awards,” in the category of “Multicultural Fiction (Adult),” The Book of Want won the silver medal!  

This book is a quilting of stories woven together by the character of Conchita.  These stories that navigate around Conchita are sometimes snapshots, sometimes very detailed moments.

It is in the fine poignant blocks of quilted story that we can see connections and disconnections among familia.

In all three novels, la familia is at the center and encourages the reader to consider various aspects about the Chicana/Chicano and Latina/Latino community and family in the twenty-first century.

In addition to Daniel’s novel, he is also the author of a book of short stories, Anywhere But L.A.: Stories and he is also the editor of Latinos in Lotusland:  An Anthology of Contemporary Southern California Literature.  

Daniel has written for the Los Angeles Times, the El Paso Times, and other magazines/newspapers.  Since 1990, Daniel has been working as an attorney with the California Department of Justice in the Public Rights Division. 

Daniel was also responsible for our Rudolfo Anaya week—gracias for a great week of interviews, analysis and perspectives on his work. 

La Bloga certainly hopes that in the coming years, we can post that Belinda Acosta’s and Daniel Olivas’ work has indeed been made into films.  Orale.  It’s necessary, it’s needed. 

Gracias and wishing all of you dear Bloga readers, an excellent week!  

1 comment:

Daniel A. Olivas said...

Mil gracias, for the kind, kind discussion of my awards! And congratulations to all of the other Latin@ writers who have won literary awards of late!