Friday, September 01, 2017

New Books

This week a few more new books recently released or coming your way in 2017. Or are you waiting for the video?

Out in the Open: A Novel
Jesús Carrasco - translated by Margaret Jull Costa
Riverhead Books - July

[from the publisher]

A young boy has fled his home. He’s pursued by dangerous forces. What lies before him is an infinite, arid plain, one he must cross in order to escape those from whom he’s fleeing. One night on the road, he meets an old goatherd, a man who lives simply but righteously, and from that moment on, their paths intertwine.

Out in the Open tells the story of this journey through a drought-stricken country ruled by violence. A world where names and dates don’t matter, where morals have drained away with the water. In this landscape the boy—not yet a lost cause—has the chance to choose hope and bravery, or to live forever mired in the cycle of violence in which he was raised. Carrasco has masterfully created a high stakes world, a dystopian tale of life and death, right and wrong, terror and salvation.

Jesús Carrasco was born in Badajoz, Spain, and now lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. Out in the Open, his debut novel, was a huge bestseller in Spain, published in more than twenty-one countries, and is the winner of many international awards, including the European Union Prize for Literature 2016 and an English PEN award.

Margaret Jull Costa has been translating Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American fiction for more than twenty years, including authors like Javier Marías.


When Love Was Reels
José B. González

Arte Público Press - September 30

[from the publisher]

“My parents crossed when I started losing / teeth. My memory of them is broken, chipped / away.” Expressing his longing not to be forgotten like so many abandoned children in his native country, José B. González writes about a young boy’s life—first in El Salvador under the care of his grandmother and later living with his uncle in New York City—in this moving collection of narrative poems that uses iconic Latin American and Latino films as a guiding motif.

In each poem, famous movie and TV scenes featuring icons likes Pedro Infante and Cantinflas and modern stars such as Elizabeth Peña, Edward James Olmos and Esai Morales are juxtaposed with important moments in the boy’s life. In the first section, “Scenes from the Golden Age,” the boy watches classic Latin American films from the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s at the cinema with his grandmother in El Salvador. In a 1948 film, he notes the difference between a maid, who “stands straight like the board on which she irons the family’s clothes,” and his grandmother, who “drags each leg like a broken broom,” her shoulders “heavy, like a stack of irons.” He imagines how once she must have been strong, raising her son, urging him to resist “the hungry promises of dreams.”

In the second section, “Scenes from El Norte,” he moves to New York, “where the screens / will not be black and white.” There his uncle leaves him in the apartment to watch TV and learn English. The boy writes to his grandmother, but doesn’t tell her “how / I swallow my screams / how I watch alone.” Later, he and his friends use spray cans to tag Brooklyn buildings, and that paint saves them, keeping them “from / believing / in blades, / guns and / knives.” Providing a tribute as well as a criticism of the way that film and television portray Latino lives, the collection is also notable for shedding light on the lives of so many youth raised by grandmothers in Latin America as the generation in-between went in search of the American Dream. These poems hauntingly illuminate Salvadoran immigration to the United States.

José B. González was born in San Salvador, El Salvador, and immigrated to New London, Connecticut, at the age of eight. He is the author of the poetry collection, Toys Made of Rock (2015), based on his journey from a non-English speaker to a professor of English. His work has been anthologized in The Norton Introduction to Literature, Theatre Under My Skin: Contemporary Salvadoran Poetry and The Wandering Song: Central American Writing in the United States. He is the coeditor (with John S. Christie) of Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature (2006). A Fulbright scholar, González teaches Latino literature and creative writing at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. He is the founder and editor of and a member of the Macondo Writers Workshop.


The King is Always Above the People: Stories
Daniel Alarcón

 Riverhead Books - October

 [from the publisher]

A slyly political collection of stories about immigration, broken dreams, Los Angeles gang members, Latin American families, and other tales of high stakes journeys, from the award-winning author of War by Candlelight and At Night We Walk in Circles.

Migration. Betrayal. Family secrets. Doomed love. Uncertain futures. In Daniel Alarcón’s hands, these are transformed into deeply human stories with high stakes. In “The Thousands,” people are on the move and forging new paths; hope and heartbreak abound. A man deals with the fallout of his blind relatives’ mysterious deaths and his father’s mental breakdown and incarceration in “The Bridge.” A gang member discovers a way to forgiveness and redemption through the haze of violence and trauma in “The Ballad of Rocky Rontal.” And in the tour de force novella, “The Auroras”, a man severs himself from his old life and seeks to make a new one in a new city, only to find himself seduced and controlled by a powerful woman. Richly drawn, full of unforgettable characters, The King is Always Above the People reveals experiences both unsettling and unknown, and yet eerily familiar in this new world.

Daniel Alarcón
is the author of At Night We Walk in Circles, which was a finalist for the 2014 Pen-Faulkner Award, as well as the story collection War by Candlelight, the novel Lost City Radio, and the graphic novel City of Clowns. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Granta, n+1, and Harpers, and he was named one of the New Yorker’s “20 Under 40.” He is Executive Producer of “Radio Ambulante,” distributed by NPR, and is an assistant professor of broadcast journalism at the Columbia University School of Journalism in New York.

Bang: A Novel
Daniel Peña

Arte Público Press - November

[from the publisher]

Rafa’s first flight, a late-night joy ride with his brother, changes their lives forever when the engine stops and the boys crash land, with “Texas to the right; Mexico to the left.” Before the accident, Rafa was a high school track star in Harlingen, Texas, even though he was undocumented like the rest of his family. His mother Araceli spent her time waiting for her husband to return after being deported. His older brother Uli, a former high-school track star turned drop-out, learned to fly a crop duster, spraying pesticide over their home in the citrus grove.

After the crash, Uli wakes up bound and gagged, wondering where he is. Rafa comes to in a hospital, praying that it’s on the American side of the border. And their mother finds herself waiting for her sons as well as her missing husband. Araceli knows that she has to go back to the country she left behind in order to find her family.

In Mexico, each is forced to navigate the complexities of their past and an unknown world of deprivation and violence. Ruthless drug cartels force Uli to fly drugs. “If a brick goes missing, Uli dies. If a plane goes missing, Uli dies. If Uli goes missing, they find Uli (wherever he’s at) and Uli dies.” If they can’t find him, they will kill his mother. They have photos of her in Matamoros to prove they can enforce the threat. Meanwhile, Rafa returns to his family’s home in San Miguel and finds a city virtually abandoned, devastated by battles between soldiers and narcotraficantes.

Vividly portraying the impact of international drug smuggling on the average person, Peña’s debut novel also probes the loss of talented individuals and the black market machines fed with the people removed and shut out of America. Ultimately, Bang is a riveting tale about ordinary people forced to do dangerous, unimaginable things.

Daniel Peña, a Pushcart Prize-winning writer, is an assistant professor at the University of Houston-Downtown, where he teaches in the Department of English. Previously he was at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City, where he worked as a writer, blogger, book reviewer and journalist. A Cornell University graduate and Fulbright-Garcia Robles scholar, his fiction has been widely published, appearing in such journals as Ploughshares, The Rumpus, Callaloo and the Kenyon Review Online. Bang is his debut novel.


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.


Laura LL said...

All good----yet sadly no women authors....why is that?

Manuel Ramos said...

Luck of the draw this time. Check out my post on August 4 for new books from women authors, as well as an announcement of a major award to a new woman author.