For almost twenty years, Ilan Stavans—described by the Washington Post as "Latin America’s liveliest and boldest critic and most innovative cultural enthusiast"—has interviewed path-breaking intellectuals and artists in a wide range of media. As host of the critically acclaimed PBS series La Plaza, he interviews guests on pressing issues that affect the Western Hemisphere today, asking hard-hitting questions on immigration, religion, bilingualism, race, and democracy. This book collects for the first time in one volume Stavans’s most provocative and enlightening interviews with Hispanics from both sides of the Rio Grande.
Spontaneous and surprising, these conversations reflect Latino life in the United States in all its facets. Among the more than two dozen selections, Edward James Olmos talks about Hispanics in Hollywood; John Leguizamo describes how he shapes a stage show; author Richard Rodriguez reflects on his gang background; Esmeralda Santiago takes on the Puerto Rican stereotype; and Piri Thomas shares thoughts on the writing of Down These Mean Streets. "A conversation is a tango," writes Stavans, "for it takes two to dance it." Conversations with Ilan Stavans invites readers to catch the rhythm and enjoy these unique meetings of minds.