Monday, November 19, 2012

¡Announcing the first annual Brown Friday holiday shopping guide!

From Wikipedia: Black Friday is the name given to the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.  On this day, most major retailers open extremely early, often at 4 am, or earlier, and offer promotional sales to kick off the holiday shopping season, similar to Boxing Day sales in many Commonwealth Nations.”

From La Bloga (today):Brown Friday is the name given to the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.  On this day, most lovers of Latino literature will find that perfect book that will make a great gift during this holiday season.”

As we see news reports of people bundled up in long lines waiting to grab the best price on flat screen TVs (bring your pepper spray!), why not give the gift of literature by finding that perfect book written by one of the many talented Latino authors who populate this great place we call earth?  And while you’re at it, do you know of a Latino-owned bookstore in your city that carries such potential holiday gifts?

So, to kick off this first annual Brown Friday, here are a few titles from 2012 that would make good stocking stuffers.  And I encourage readers of La Bloga to add other titles in the comments below.  Also, if you have a great Latino-owned bookstore to recommend, please do so.  Here in Los Angeles, I recommend Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural located at 13197-A Gladstone Ave., Sylmar, CA 91342.

Remember, this list is not meant to be exhaustive…it’s just a good start.

Western Avenue and Other Fictions (University of Arizona Press) by Fred Arroyo.  From the publisher: “In these engaging and often gripping short stories, Fred Arroyo takes us into the lives of working-class Hispanic migrants and immigrants, who are often invisible while they work in plain sight across America.  As characters intertwine and evolve across stories, Arroyo creates a larger narrative that dramatizes the choices we make to create identity, make meaning, and deal with hardships and loss.  His stories are linked by a concern with borders, both real and imagined, and the power that memory and imagination have to shape and structure our lives.”

Conjuro (Mammoth Publications) by Xánath Caraza.  From the publisher: “Xánath Caraza's first book-length collection Conjuro (Spellbound)… is published by Mammoth Publications, a Native-owned literary press.  In this tri-lingual text, Caraza combines Spanish, English, and Nahuatl (language of the Aztecs) to create a continuous spell of verse.  Caraza's writing derives from her awareness of Indigenous thought: words are tangible objects, not abstractions, and capable of influencing physical reality's web of interactions.”

Breathing, In Dust (Texas Tech University Press) by Tim Z. Hernandez.  From the publisher: “Deep within California’s golden agricultural heartland lies a rotten core: the fictional farming community of Catela, where the desperate realities of poverty, drug abuse, violence, and bigotry play out in the lives of cucarachas and coyotes, tweekers and strippers, wetbacks and white trash…. Tim Z. Hernandez’s land of pain and plenty, his Catela, evokes the essence of the migrant underclass experience.  But more, his stories take us there, into the streets and into the groves, into the back rooms of the carnicerias and the panaderias, onto the tracks, onto the thirsty highways, in scenes that unfold with graphic, breathtaking honesty.”

Performing the US Latina and Latino Borderlands (Indiana University Press) edited by Arturo J. Aldama, Chela Sandoval and Peter J. García.  From the publisher: “In this interdisciplinary volume, contributors analyze the expression of Latina/o cultural identity through performance.  With music theater, dance, visual arts, body art, spoken word, performance activism, fashion, and street theater as points of entry, contributors discuss cultural practices and the fashioning of identity in Latino/a communities throughout the US.  Examining the areas of crossover between Latin and American cultures gives new meaning to the notion of ‘borderlands.’  This volume features senior scholars and up-and-coming academics from cultural, visual, and performance studies, folklore, and ethnomusicology.”

Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America (Scribner) by Gustavo Arellano.  From the publisher: “The nationally syndicated columnist and bestselling author of ¡Ask a Mexican! presents a fascinating and tasty trip through the history and culture of Mexican food in this country, uncovering great stories and charting the cuisine’s tremendous popularity in el Norte.”

The Dreamer (Scholastic) by Pam Muñoz Ryan and illustrated by Peter Sís.  From the publisher: “From the time he is a young boy, Neftalí hears the call of a mysterious voice.  Even when the neighborhood children taunt him, and when his harsh, authoritarian father ridicules him, and when he doubts himself, Neftalí knows he cannot ignore the call.  Under the canopy of the lush rain forest, into the fearsome sea, and through the persistent Chilean rain, he listens and he follows…. Combining elements of magical realism with biography, poetry, literary fiction, and sensorial, transporting illustrations, Pam Muñoz Ryan and Peter Sís take readers on a rare journey of the heart and imagination.”


Luzma Umpierre said...

El unico problemita es que los libros que recomiendas son de la gente nueva. Nuestras pioneras a veces no tienen dinero ni para comer y nadie se ocupa de traer nueva vida a sus obras ni de difundirla. En adicion, los jovenes ni se ocupan de agradecerles el haber abierto caminos. Asi que alabo la decision, la cual anuncie en NC cuando dije "50 Shades of Brown This Year, not 50 Shades of Mediocrity." Gracias por esta iniciativa.

AlvaradoFrazier said...

The Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo Martinez is a memoir of one man's life in South Texas. The storytelling of painful episodes during his "coming of age" periods are told with realism, humor, sarcasm, and profound insight.

Luzma Umpierre said...

Once again, I am not asking you to buy my book. If you want to, that is your choice. I am asking you to support these people, women mostly who are Pioneers and who very few of the young ever recognize and thank.If your name is among those of the featured books here, you owe a world of gratitude to these women pioneers. Is it that difficult just to press a link and subscribe to journal that is free or buy art work from one of them or the lastes book by another one of them?

I would rather have you buy for the Holidays gifts for your friends and familia from Sandra María Esteves collection of earrings and from the banned books list in Arizona the works of those who are TRULY commited to social justice. You may also want to give me an extra gift for free. Please go to Ana Castillo's webpage below and subscribe to the La tolteza-zine. It is free and you will support the building of an world class at the caliber of the one created by Ana's friend: Rosario Ferre.That would make me happy! These are the links:

Beaded Featherweight Earrings, © 2012.
Available for purchase at

Kathleen Alcala said...

Ditto The Boy Kings of Texas, a National Book Award finalist.

Don't forget children's books by Latino/a writers, including my colleague, Carmen Bernier-Grand, who writes biographies of famous Latina/os, including "Frida - Viva la vida," Picasso, Alicia Alonso, and coming up, Dali.

A wonderful book I turn to now and then is a collection of "Selected Verse" by Federico Garcia Lorca in a bilingual edition edited by Christopher Maurer.

I'm not going to single out any of the other wonderful writers I know, viejas y nuevas, old and new, so I hope you will promote your work. Thank you for engaging in what can seem an uphill profession. And thanks to our presses and editors as well.