Sandra Cisneros to move from San Antonio :: via MySA – Sandra Cisneros is selling the house she once stubbornly painted purple, it appears, in a move to focus on writing projects.
Latino in America 2 :: via The Venture – Journalist Soledad O’Brien discusses life and a sequel of sorts to her documentary Latino in America.
Nanowrimo is here :: November is National Novel Writing Month – are you going to challenge yourself to write a novel this month?
Salman Rushdie limerick :: via Writer’s Blog – I love when an author doesn’t take him/herself too seriously. Read Rushdie’s limerick on Kim Kardashian’s divorce.
Writers join the Occupy movement :: Writers have joined this website in support of the Occupy Wallstreet movement. I scanned this very looooong list and found a few Latino writers – Daniel Alarcon popped out the most.
Weekend Sonrisa:: Will Ferrell will star with Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna in Casa de mi Padre, which the LA Times said was “in the culturally open-minded tradition of Steve Martin and Chevy Chase in ‘¡Three Amigos!’ and Jack Black in ‘Nacho Libre.’” Eh, whatever. Well, the trailer looks funny and the movie gets some initial street cred not because of the benevolently open-minded stars or creators but because of Bernal and Luna. (Side note: this review notes, tongue-in-cheek, I think, how the CEO of Pantelion films credits “Will, Matt [director], and Andrew [writer]” with the film’s funniness. Ja. ja. ja.)
I disappeared for a few days – I was getting ready for an interview (which are hard to come by these days), among other things. Anyway, I just had to
brag show y’all (I’m from Texas, I can say that) my new bookshelves! They are nothing fancy, but I finally have all my books in the living room with a few of my favorite tchotchke, and I still have room to grow!
I’m still debating an e-reader, so I may not need room for more books. I did go through these books and put together a box of books that I’ll donate. I tried to keep books that I really enjoyed and that are meaningful. There are a few in there that I haven’t read yet.
Yep. I MIGHT have a book shopping problem – as in I buy more than I can read at a time. I’m trying to use the library more often, but the only bad thing about that is that I like to (GASP!) dog-ear the pages.
So what’s more weird – that I have a ton of books, or that (save for a few sections) I organized them by color?2 comments
I honestly don’t remember many pictures books from my childhood, though I know I read many. I started reading “chapter books” (I forgot that children call them that until my ten-year-old niece said it) when I was eight years old. I lovingly remember books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, Gary Paulsen, and so on. But did I read anything written by a Latin@? No, I didn’t discover that until I found Sandra Cisneros at 14. Now, I know that there must be some childrens and YA books by Latinos out there, but I didn’t find it back then, and I read so voraciously from a young age that I quickly moved onto literary fiction adult titles to satisfy my appetite.
Now that I have my own child, I am interested in finding children’s books that feature Hispanics. So the other day I was delighted to find a whole shelf dedicated to mostly bilingual books in the kid’s section at the public library. (Hey, I live in Alabama – it’s a big deal to find that treasure trove. Our stores’ sections for Latino literature are as limited as the food, which you find in the Asian or beans sections at Wal-mart.)
Anyway, on to these two bilingual books, both by Children’s Book Press, a non-profit publisher of multicultural books for kids.
The Upside Down Boy is by Juan Felipe Herrera. This book is written in a melodious voice, bringing to mind, perhaps, a kid’s magical realism. Kids will love the story of Juanito (based on the author’s life), who moves to a new place and school and has to learn English. With his teacher and family as support, he discovers his gift for poetry and music and learns English. Parents (okay, maybe just me) will go wild for the beautiful lyricism:
“We are finger painting.
I make wild suns with my open hands.
Crazy tomato cars and cucumber sombreros –
I write my name with seven chiles.”
The illustrations are by Elizabeth Gomez. The creative, fantastical images accompany the writing perfectly.
I’m so excited about this author and the other works I saw on his website, and I actually found out that two more are available at my library. I will definitely be reading more by him!
new country. She finds out that her dad is actually an American citizen. He goes to find work and leaves the family behind for a short time while applying for green cards. César Chávez and the grape boycott make a cameo in the book!
I was impressed by the clear writing that is honest about the scary situations the family faced; but the tone keeps it interesting and wouldn’t freak a child out (I was really wondering how that would pan out when I started reading).
Perez’s website shows two other books, and she also does speaking engagements. I love her final words for tips to aspiring authors: “You ARE a WRITER because you write, not because you publish!”
The book is illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez. I loved the vivid colors of the art that has a definite Chican@ style.no comments
Esmeralda Santiago’s book The Turkish Lover is about, well, her Turkish lover. If by lover you mean a narcissistic, pathologically lying, philandering, and controlling abuser.
The book starts out with Santiago’s move from Puerto Rico to the U.S. Her mother is scraping by, working as a seamstress, while Santiago begins to navigate the dichotomy between U.S. and Puerto Rican cultures. One scene from the book could have been pulled from my own life, when Santiago’s mother tells her:
“This is why you have to learn English, graduate from high school, and find work in offices, not factories,” she said in a voice unsteady with controlled anger. “So many humiliations, all because I didn’t get an education.”
So of course what Santiago does is exactly the opposite of what is expected from una “nena puertoriqueña decente” – getting a job, moving out, dating, moving to Florida with Ulvi, the list goes on. The mind control begins subtly in New York, when Ulvi criticizes her clothes and mannerisms, expecting her to change them, and then progressively get worse. The split that arises between her and her family and her culture is painful to read about. Santiago writes:
“I never called home because I knew Mami didn’t approve of my life with Ulvi and I didn’t want to hear the reproach in her voice. Except for me, no one in my family was mucho f a correspondent. Mami didn’t have the time to answer letters, and I didn’t know what to say if I were to write one. . . . months went by and I neither spoke to nor heard from anyone in Brooklyn. Bad news, I knew, would find me. Good news would accumulate until the next time we saw each other.”
This book was well-written, but hard to read. It wasn’t the writing but that I was so frustrated with the author – I kept thinking, “No, don’t go back to him! Oh my God, after what happened you’re going back? Why? Why? Why?” But it can’t be as hard as what she went through, slowly extricating herself from Ulvi’s grasp.
Luckily, Santiago was able to slowly break out of the relationship with this Ulvi character and graduate from Harvard. Spoiler alert: I can’t help but share some last lines of the book, which leave you wanting more:
“I was returning to my family free of a man who disdained my people and me. I was returning having exceeded even the most optimistic expectations for a poor girl from a huge family raised by a single mother under the most challenging conditions in a hostil culture and environment. . . . I was so proud of myself, I strutted toward the Departures gates. I had forgotten the Puerto Rican saying that Tata had muttered in our direction whenever we boasted about something we had done: Alábate pollo, que mañana le guisan. Boast now, chicken, tomorrow you’ll be stew.”
Not everybody is able to get themselves out of relationships that are physical or emotionally abusive. If you know someone who is abused, one place you can go for help is the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.no comments
It’s Friday! And tomorrow I’m getting up early to go to my mom’s house and make tamales. Yum! I don’t know about the early part, though. Anyway, here’s some links for you to check out this weekend:
Poet leads protest against drug violence in Mexico :: via NYT – Corruption is so ingrained in the fabric of Mexico that it is actually an institution. Taking it out is difficult because it threatens the political system as a whole. Military response to the drug problem, in my opinion, cannot be successful without addressing corruption. According to this article, the population also needs to come to a consensus on the matter. Javier Sicilia is leading a movement against the drug violence in Mexico.
100 Stars You Never Knew Were Latino :: via Latina – I love these articles, probably because I’m a light-skinned Latina!
Nobel Prize for literature goes to Swedish poet :: via NPR – This guy has a pretty cool last name. It makes me think of Transformers.
Have a great weekend!!!no comments