Friday, August 04, 2017

Good News - Real News

New immigrant writing recognition and the beginning of a promising literary career. Recalling the queens of tejana music and how women changed the culture. Intimate stories of Mexican and Peruvian revolutionaries. A legendary tattoo artist and a world-renown photographer present new books showcasing their art. Plus, a psychological coming-of-age novel set in Europe and Mexico, written by a rising star of Mexican literature. It's all good.

Winner Announced for the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing

From Restless Books:

Dear readers,
Today, [July 31] Publishers Weekly announced the winner of the 2017 Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing for Nonfiction: Grace Talusan, for her memoir The Body Papers. As detailed below in the judges' citation and author's statement about her book, The Body Papers is a brave, artful memoir about trauma, illness, and immigration as told through personal and official documentation. The book is scheduled to be published in the Fall of 2018. Congratulations, Grace!

Grace Talusan Wins 2017 Restless Books Prize
Grace Talusan has been named the winner of the 2017 Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing for her book The Body Papers. In their citation, the judges called The Body Papers "a remarkable memoir" that trains "an unflinching eye on the most delicate and fraught contours of her own life as an immigrant and survivor of trauma and illness.... The Body Papers may be Grace Talusan’s debut, but it is the considered, artful work of one who has been processing these experiences with the diligence and courage of a true writer." Talusan is a Fulbright Fellow and a graduate of the MFA Program in Writing at the University of California, Irvine.

Author’s Statement on The Body Papers

I kept many secrets growing up, including the fact that I was an “illegal alien.” I always considered myself an American and was shocked to learn in high school that, at least on paper, I wasn’t. Like the young immigrants with deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA), as a child, I crossed the border with my parents. We made a life and then our visas had expired and while we were in the administrative process of fixing our papers, we fell out of status. Along with the approximate 300 thousand undocumented Filipinos in the US today, we were TNT, tago nang tago, or “always hiding.” During the several years we worked to regulate our immigration status, I worried we would soon be deported to the Philippines, a place I knew little about. I didn’t want to become separated from my younger siblings, who were born U.S. citizens in our mixed-status family. I feared losing the only home I knew and my future, which contained only American dreams. When I finally became a U.S. citizen, my naturalization certificate and blue passport became the most valuable papers I’d ever possessed, more valuable than diplomas or even money.

The very things that I am supposed to keep secret are what I am drawn to write about. I write about what I cannot speak. The Body Papers is a memoir-in-essays, which explores my lived experiences with identity, intergenerational trauma, abuse, colonialism, immigration, returning, depression, and hereditary cancer. The book is also about faith, friendship, and the transformative possibilities of love.

As new immigrants with no safety net, my parents were always busy working, so I am forever grateful to the kind neighbor who brought me to the public library when I was in the first grade. I suddenly had unlimited access to books, which became my companions. And books soon led me to real friendships cultivated through a shared love of reading, and later, writing. Despite being a voracious reader, I didn’t read a book by a Filipino immigrant until college, Carlos Bulosan’s America is in the Heart. I’m thrilled that my book about my particular immigrant and Filipino American experiences will soon exist on a bookstore or library shelf somewhere, ready for a reader to come upon it. I hope a variety of readers connect to my writing, which is about universal human experiences, and I would be especially proud if my book resonated with Filipino readers in the diaspora. Perhaps The Body Papers will encourage someone to break a silence and share a true story. It’s my lifelong dream come true to publish a book, and I hope mine will soon have the good company of other underrepresented voices in literature as there are so many stories we have yet to read.

​​​​​​​—Grace Talusan

Grace Talusan Author Bio

Grace Talusan is a writer and writing teacher. As a child, she immigrated to the United States from the Philippines with her parents. She has published essays, longform journalism, fiction and book reviews in Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Boston Magazine, Boston Globe, The Rumpus, and many others. She is the recipient of a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship to the Philippines and an Artist Fellowship Award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and has been awarded residencies to Hedgebrook, Ragdale, and the Dune Shacks in Provincetown. She is a graduate of Tufts University and the MFA Program in Writing at the University of California, Irvine. At Tufts University, she teaches in the English Department and The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. She is a longtime member and teacher at Grub Street, an independent creative writing center. She lives outside of Boston with her husband. 

About the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing

Each year, the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing awards $10,000 and publication to a first-time, first-generation author. The Prize is awarded for fiction and nonfiction in alternating years. We are looking for extraordinary writing from emerging writers of sharp, culture-straddling writing that addresses identity in a global age. Read more and find out how to submit on our Prize page.

New Books

Listening to Rosita:  The Business of Tejana Music and Culture, 1930–1955
Mary Ann Villarreal
University of Oklahoma Press - Originally published in 2015, paperback edition July, 2017

[from the publisher]
Everybody in the bar had to drop a quarter in the jukebox or be shamed by “Momo” Villarreal. It wasn’t about the money, Mary Ann Villarreal’s grandmother insisted. It was about the music—more songs for all the patrons of the Pecan Lounge in Tivoli, Texas. But for Mary Ann, whose schoolbooks those quarters bought, the money didn’t hurt.

When as an adult Villarreal began to wonder how the few recordings of women singers made their way into that jukebox, questions about the money seemed inseparable from those about the music. In Listening to Rosita, Villarreal seeks answers by pursuing the story of a small group of Tejana singers and entrepreneurs in Corpus Christi, Houston, and San Antonio—the “Texas Triangle”—during the mid-twentieth century. Ultimately she recovers a social world and cultural landscape in central south Texas where Mexican American women negotiated the shifting boundaries of race and economics to assert a public presence.

Drawing on oral history, interviews, and insights from ethnic and gender studies, Listening to Rosita provides a counter narrative to previous research on la música tejana, which has focused almost solely on musicians or musical genres. Villarreal instead chronicles women’s roles and contributions to the music industry. In spotlighting the sixty-year singing career of San Antonian Rosita Fernandez, the author pulls the curtain back on all the women whose names and stories have been glaringly absent from the ethnic and economic history of Tejana music and culture.

In this oral history of the Tejana cantantes who performed and owned businesses in the Texas Triangle, Listening to Rosita shows how ethnic Mexican entrepreneurs developed a unique identity in striving for success in a society that demeaned and segregated them. In telling their story, this book supplies a critical chapter long missing from the history of the West. 
Mary Ann Villarreal is Director of Strategic Initiatives and University Projects at California State University, Fullerton.

The Body Where I Was Born
Guadalupe Nettel
Translated from the Spanish by J. T. Lichtenstein

Seven Stories Press - July

[from the publisher]
By a much talked-about young writer from Mexico—whose accolades include the Herralde Prize, the Ribera del Duero Prize, and inclusion in the Bogotá 39—the novel of an unconventional childhood in the seventies, split between Mexico and Europe.

From a psychoanalyst’s couch, the narrator looks back on her bizarre childhood–in which she was born with a birth defect into a family intent on fixing it—having somehow survived the emotional havoc she went through. And survive she did, but not unscathed. This intimate narrative echoes the voice of the narrator’s younger self: a sharp, sensitive girl who is keen to life’s gifts and hardships.

With bare language and smart humor, both delicate and unafraid, the narrator strings together a strand of touching moments to create a portrait of an unconventional childhood that crushed her and scarred her, but ultimately mended her and made her whole.

In June 2013, Granta featured Guadalupe Nettel in their “Best Untranslated Writers” series. In 2013, she won the Ribera del Duero Short Fiction Award for Natural Histories, which became her U.S. debut in 2014 when Seven Stories published it in the English translation by J.T. Lichtenstein. The Body Where I was Born is her second book published in English. Her work has received international critical acclaim and awards, and has been translated into French, Portuguese, German, Italian, Dutch, Czech, Slovak, and Swedish.

[from the publisher]
On August 31, 1915, a Texas posse lynched five “horse thieves.” One of them, it turned out, was General Pascual Orozco Jr., military hero of the Mexican Revolution. Was he a desperado or a hero? Orozco’s death proved as controversial as his storied life, a career of mysterious contradictions that Raymond Caballero puzzles out in this book.

A long-overdue biography of a significant but little-known and less understood figure of Mexican history, Orozco tells the full story of this revolutionary’s meteoric rise and ignominious descent, including the purposely obscured circumstances of his death at the hands of a lone, murderous lawman. That story—of an unknown muleteer of Northwest Chihuahua who became the revolution’s most important military leader, a national hero and idol, only to turn on his former revolutionary ally Francisco Madero—is one of the most compelling narratives of early-twentieth-century Mexican history. Without Orozco’s leadership, Madero would likely have never deposed dictator Porfirio Díaz. And yet Orozco soon joined Madero’s hated assassin, the new dictator, Victoriano Huerta, and espoused progressive reforms while fighting on behalf of reactionaries.

Whereas other historians have struggled to make sense of this contradictory record, Caballero brings to light Orozco’s bizarre appointment of an unknown con man to administer his rebellion, a man whose background and character, once revealed, explain many of Orozco’s previously baffling actions. The book also delves into the peculiar history of Orozco’s homeland, offering new insight into why Northwest Chihuahua, of all places in Mexico, produced the revolution’s military leadership, in particular a champion like Pascual Orozco. From the circumstances of his ascent, to revelations about his treachery, to the true details of his death, Orozco at last emerges, through Caballero’s account, in all his complexity and significance.

Raymond Caballero is an independent historian whose research has long focused on Mexico, especially the Mexican Revolution.

[from the publisher] 
 In 1926 a young Peruvian woman picked up a gun, wrested her infant daughter from her husband, and liberated herself from the constraints of a patriarchal society. Magda Portal, a poet and journalist, would become one of Latin America’s most successful and controversial politicians. In this richly nuanced portrayal of Portal, historian Myrna Ivonne Wallace Fuentes chronicles the dramatic rise and fall of this prominent twentieth-century revolutionary within the broader history of leftist movements, gender politics, and literary modernism in Latin America.

An early member of bohemian circles in Lima, La Paz, and Mexico City, Portal distinguished herself as the sole female founder of the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (APRA). A leftist but non-Communist movement, APRA would dominate Peru’s politics for five decades. Through close analysis of primary sources, including Portal’s own poetry, correspondence, and other writings, Most Scandalous Woman illuminates Portal’s pivotal work in creating and leading APRA during its first twenty years, as well as her efforts to mobilize women as active participants in political and social change. Despite her successes, Portal broke with APRA in 1950 under bitter circumstances. Wallace Fuentes analyzes how sexism in politics interfered with Portal’s political ambitions, explores her relationships with family members and male peers, and discusses the ramifications of her scandalous love life.

In charting the complex trajectory of Portal’s life and career, Most Scandalous Woman reveals what moves people to become revolutionaries, and the gendered limitations of their revolutionary alliances, in an engrossing narrative that brings to life Latin American revolutionary politics.

Myrna Ivonne Wallace Fuentes, born in Guatemala, is an Associate Professor of History at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia.

The Tattoo Art of Freddy Negrete: A Coloring Book for Adults
Freddy Negrete

Seven Stories Press - December

[from the publisher]
Legendary tattoo artist Freddy Negrete is best known for his pioneering black-and-gray tattoo style. His “joint-style” designs eventually found their way out onto the streets of East LA and, in 1980, he created a piece that earned him a Tattoo Artist of the Year Award. Freddy has been featured in the History Channel’s Marked series, in the documentary Tattoo Nation, on Spike TV’s Inkmaster as a guest judge, and in numerous print, online, and video publications.

 In 2007, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Body Art Expo, one of the biggest and most established tattoo conventions in the world. He frequently consults for the film industry when prison or tattoo art is used in film. Freddy lives in Hollywood and works at the Shamrock Social Club on the Sunset Strip. He has tattooed numerous celebrities, musicians, and sport personalities.

The coolest coloring book out there, with images by the legendary prison- style tattoo artist Freddy Negrete, named one of the top five living legends of tattoo artistry. For everyone who loves coloring books, but finds the flowers-and-butterflies options too tame, here is the coloring book with street cred. With pages and pages of original tattoo designs by the legendary prison-style (i.e. black-and-gray) tattoo artist Freddy Negrete, The Tattoo Art of Freddy Negrete, combines the mind-calming activity of coloring with a badass attitude!


Spanish Harlem: El Barrio in the ’80s
Joseph Rodriguez,
Contribution by Ed Morales
powerHouse Books - November

[from the publisher]
When Brooklyn-raised photographer Joseph Rodriguez first debuted his body of work shot in Spanish Harlem in the 1980s, it changed the face of documentary photography. Grit, elegy, celebration, pride, lurking cataclysm—all embedded in the portrait of a place and the people. Now, three decades later, Rodriguez and powerHouse Books are revisiting that groundbreaking series: unearthing huge new caches of images, and re-editing and showcasing the body of work in a beautiful, deluxe monograph, reframing the project as one that pushed beyond documentary into the realm of fine art. Over 30 years since the project began, Spanish Harlem: El Barrio in the 80s finally brings this unparalleled endeavor to fruition.

Spanish Harlem, New York’s oldest barrio, is the U.S. mecca where Puerto Ricans first established themselves in the 1940s. One of America’s most vital centers of Latino culture, Spanish Harlem is home to 125,000 people, half of whom are Latino. Shot in the mid-to-late 80s, Joseph Rodriguez’s superb photographs bring us into the core of the neighborhood, capturing a spirit of a people that survives despite the ravages of poverty, and more recently, the threat of gentrification and displacement. In a now-distant landscape littered with abandoned buildings, ominous alleyways, and the plague of addiction, the residents of Spanish Harlem persevered with flamboyant style and gritty self-reliance.

The heart of the work comes from Rodriguez’s intimacy and access. The trust and familiarity he built with his subjects—repeated visits with no camera, then no photographing, then little by little, a peek here, a shot there—allowed him to transcend surface level sheen and exploitation to capture images that reveal the essence of the neighborhood and of the era. That access paired with a sharp eye for detail and composition, and the practiced and disciplined ability to find the perfect moment, led to the creation of an entirely unique and breathtaking narrative. From idyllic scenes of children playing under the sprinklers on the playground, or performing the Bomba Plena on “Old Timer’s Day,” to shocking images of men shooting up speedballs and children dying of AIDS, Rodriguez reveals a day in the life of the barrio in the 1980s.

Joseph Rodriguez was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He has been awarded Pictures of the Year by the National Press Photographers Association and the University of Missouri, in 1990, 1992, 1996 and 2002. He is the author of Spanish Harlem, part of the “American Scene” series, published by the National Museum of American Art/ D.A.P., as well as East Side Stories: Gang Life in East Los Angeles, Juvenile, Flesh Life Sex in Mexico City, and Still Here: Stories After Katrina, published by powerHouse Books.



Manuel Ramos is the author of several novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction books and articles. His collection of short stories, The Skull of Pancho Villa and Other Stories, was a finalist for the 2016 Colorado Book Award. My Bad: A Mile High Noir was published by Arte Público Press in 2016 and is a finalist for the Shamus Award in the Original Paperback category sponsored by the Private Eye Writers of America

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