Monday, July 09, 2012

Summer Reading Suggestions

When I look at the summer reading suggestions from the “mainstream” print media, I seldom see a book by a Chicano/a or Latino/a writer…big surprise, right?  Do I sound annoyed?  Well, I shouldn’t be at this point in my middle age.  Anyway, since we have La Bloga, we can remedy this.  So, here are several book recommendations (all published in 2012) to fill your summer days with fiction, poetry, memoir and literary scholarship by wonderful writers you may or may not know.  And if you have some recommendations, please feel free to make a suggestion in the comments below.  And remember: ¡Lea un libro!

Woven Voices: Three Generations of Puertorriquena Poets Look at Their American Lives (Scapegoat Press) by Anita Vélez-Mitchell, Gloria Vando and Anika Paris (with an introduction by Linda Rodriguez)  

“This is not your usual book of poetry.  It was designed to be a...conversation of poetry among three very different but truly related poets, Anita Vélez-Mitchell, grandmother and mother, Gloria Vando, mother and daughter, and Anika Paris, daughter and granddaughter.  The work of each woman has been divided among common subjects and placed in relation to work of the other two women, forming a poetic conversation…, the poetic equivalent of pulling up a chair and sitting with a cup of tea or coffee to listen to the three generations of women talking together about the important issues of their lives and often laughing together.” –Linda Rodriguez, from the Introduction

From the publisher: “The son of a Mexican Catholic father with aristocratic roots and a mother of Eastern European Jewish descent, Carlos Cortés grew up wedged between cultures, living a childhood in ‘constant crossfire-straddling borders, balancing loves and loyalties, and trying to fit into a world that wasn’t quite ready.’  In his new memoir, Rose Hill: An Intermarriage before Its Time, Cortés lovingly chronicles his family’s tumultuous, decades-long spars over religion, class, and culture, from his early years in legally segregated Kansas City during the 1940s to his return to Berkeley (where his parents met) in the 1950s, and to his parents’ separation, reconciliation, deaths, and eventual burials at the Rose Hill Cemetery.”  You may read La Bloga’s previous interview with Prof. Cortés here.

The Temptation: A Kindred Novel (HarperCollins) by Alisa Valdes

From the publisher (teen fiction): “Shane is near death after crashing her car on a long stretch of empty highway in rural New Mexico when she is miraculously saved by a mysterious young man who walks out of nowhere.  She feels an instant energy between them, both a warmth that fills her soul and a tingle that makes her shiver.  But who, or what, is he?  For the first time in her life, she believes in the term ‘soul mates’—Travis is her destiny, and she is his. But she soon discovers that Travis is dead and strict rules govern kindred spirits of different dimensions.  Even a kiss could destroy both their souls.  And while Travis is almost impossible to resist, temptation proves to be the kindest enemy they encounter.  In this part romance, part supernatural thriller, true love discovers it may not be able to surpass all—especially the power of pure evil.”

Buenas Noches, American Culture: Latina/o Aesthetics of Night (Indiana University Press) by María DeGuzmán

From the publisher: Often treated like night itself—both visible and invisible, feared and romanticized—Latina/os make up the largest minority group in the US. In her newest work, María DeGuzmán explores representations of night in art and literature from the Caribbean, Colombia, Central and South America, and the U.S., calling into question night's effect on the formation of identity for Latina/os in and outside of the U.S.  She takes as her subject novels, short stories, poetry, essays, non-fiction, photo-fictions, photography, and film, and examines these texts through the lenses of nationhood, sexuality, human rights, exoticism, among others.”

From the publisher: In Not Myself without You, a working-class Puerto Rican family of the 1950s lives surrounded by spirits, ghosts, and witches, a result of incantations performed in their living room.  Chronicling nearly two decades of the family's history including their occult activities the story involves characters who are centered in Puerto Rico but who move through the Caribbean, Central America, Spain, and New York as they are pulled by the economic, political, and social conditions of the times and by their own intense desires.  Lacking the tools to understand the complexity of the world around them, these entities often travel without clear concepts of place or time and in a constant aura of exile.  As their stories come to light through fragments of prayers, sayings, poems, newspaper articles, and excerpts from books as in a family scrapbook, the characters themselves speak of intimate, political, or social issues in voices that are familiar, erotic, satirical, and humorous.  Based on oral history and research, Not Myself Without You is the authors own memoir with a strong fictional twist.

From the publisher: In simple, wistful verse, Danny Romero gives us a glimpse into a man who recognizes the connections between himself and his world.  He acknowledges his noble ancestral roots, and he juxtaposes them with memories of a harsh youth in the barrios of 1970s Los Angeles.  These accessible and straightforward poems explore topics that are decidedly not.  The poet points to the uncertainty of life, facing the daunting and the delightful with equal honesty, and touches on a depth of emotion we desperately want to understand.  Romero expertly yet lightly reveals that the richest parts of life are often small and fleeting, challenging us to appreciate them.


Anonymous said...


Thanks for putting this summer reading list together!

AlvaradoFrazier said...

Several interesting stories listed here
Also a book of poignant poetry "Conversations with my skin," by Peggy Robles-Alvarado is worth reading.