A novel told in short stories, The Affliction is an astounding fiction debut by an award-winning poet full of memorable characters across America and the Caribbean. Young beautifully weaves together the elaborate stories of many while holding together a clear focus: people are not always as they seem.
Don Morales tells stories. He tells lots of stories. About Chimbote, the Peruvian town where he lives. About fishing, the lifeblood of the town. And about change, which is not always the same as progress. Stories about the first people to inhabit the region and stories about the people who live there now. Stories about the early people’s love of the land and more recent people’s destruction of it. Stories about how people used to get along with one another and stories about how things got to be so bad that the government began to murder its own citizens.
Don Morales is a wise man. But he is also a sad man, mourning the loss of the past, of better times, of brotherhood. With his short, evocative stories—told with simplicity and beauty—he pulls his readers closer to him, as if he were speaking directly to us. For the good fishermen of Tancay, life was better yesterday than it is today. It was better to live in harmony with the sea. When they lived in harmony with the natural world, there was harmony in the human world, too.
With a nostalgic feel, yet reflecting Peru’s current political instability, this is a delightful book with an important message. When the natural order is disrupted, it is not only fish that die. When nature dies, so might we all.
All They Will Call You
Tim Z. Hernandez University of Arizona Press, 2017 Library of Congress PS3608.E768A78 2017 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
All They Will Call You is the harrowing account of “the worst airplane disaster in California’s history,” which claimed the lives of thirty-two passengers, including twenty-eight Mexican citizens—farmworkers who were being deported by the U.S. government. Outraged that media reports omitted only the names of the Mexican passengers, American folk icon Woody Guthrie penned a poem that went on to become one of the most important protest songs of the twentieth century, “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee).” It was an attempt to restore the dignity of the anonymous lives whose unidentified remains were buried in an unmarked mass grave in California’s Central Valley. For nearly seven decades, the song’s message would be carried on by the greatest artists of our time, including Pete Seeger, Dolly Parton, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez, yet the question posed in Guthrie’s lyrics, “Who are these friends all scattered like dry leaves?” would remain unanswered—until now.
Combining years of painstaking investigative research and masterful storytelling, award-winning author Tim Z. Hernandez weaves a captivating narrative from testimony, historical records, and eyewitness accounts, reconstructing the incident and the lives behind the legendary song. This singularly original account pushes narrative boundaries, while challenging perceptions of what it means to be an immigrant in America, but more importantly, it renders intimate portraits of the individual souls who, despite social status, race, or nationality, shared a common fate one frigid morning in January 1948.
Along These Highways
Rene S. Perez II University of Arizona Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS3616.E74346A79 2012 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Rene Perez has the ability to stop time. In fact, time stops as soon as you start reading one of his short stories. You find yourself transported into the minds and lives of people you thought you didn't know. Suddenly they are your best friends. They live in Texas. Most of them are Hispanic. But their problems are universal.
Like Alfredo, driving home from Dallas to Greenton with the body of his friend "Frankie" Ochoa in the back of his hearse and his son Ramon ready to drive if Alfredo's eyesight fails again.
Or Joey, just back from basic training and ready to ship out with his Marine platoon. He's having beers with his best friend J.R. at Flojo's, a bar outside of Greenton run by Liz and Vicente, "the toughest couple in town."
Or Benny, who drops into Flojo's for the first time in years and finds his one-time friend Gumby drinking himself into oblivion. Turns out Gumby's luck is even worse than Benny's.
Or Virginia, the schoolteacher who's trying to become better educated in the hope that her son who went to Stanford will come back home to Corpus Christi. Or Eric, who spent all his money on two flashy wheels for his car and put them both on the passenger side so that they'll impress everyone on the sidewalk as he passes. Or Andy, who breaks into a home he's always wanted to see from the inside.
You'll want to know them all. And you will count yourself fortunate to have met them.
Through earthy, charming stories that blend songs, letters, and prayers, Patricia Preciado Martin explores the hidden places of the soul and the human longing for amor eterno, eternal love. Forbidden love, enchanted love, and desperate love are just some of the varieties of love that get mixed into this sweet concoction of romance, wit, and instruction. A delicious combination of modern sensibility and folk wisdom—including recipes for fresh breath and special prayers to Saint Valentine—this book tells universal tales of devotion and desire.
Angelitos: A Graphic Novel
Ilan Stavans and Santiago Cohen The Ohio State University Press, 2018 Library of Congress PN6727.S677A83 2018 | Dewey Decimal 741.5973
From internationally renowned Ilan Stavans, in collaboration with award-winning illustrator Santiago Cohen, comes Angelitos: A Graphic Novel, an explosive new graphic novel about a college student and his interactions with Padre Chinchachoma, a charismatic Catholic priest who devotes himself to rescuing homeless children in Mexico. Though his work gives hope to the desperate masses of children on the streets of Mexico City, his efforts interfere with and infuriate the police—with dire consequences. Set in a deeply classist society and against the backdrop of the tragic destruction of the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, the core of the story also revolves around the student’s fear that Padre Chincha might be sexually abusing the children he rescues, at a time and place when such actions went unchecked by the Catholic Church.
Though Angelitos: A Graphic Novel is a fictional retelling of a desperate time, it draws on autobiographical elements to tell the real-life story of Alejandro García Durán de Lara, popularly known as Padre Chinchachoma, a complicated figure revered by some and reviled by others.
Big Familia follows Juan Gutiérrez, a self-employed single father, as he navigates a tumultuous year of inescapable change. His daughter, Stella, is on the verge of moving away to college; his lover, Jared, is pressing him for commitment; and his favorite watering hole—a ramshackle dive presided over by Bob the Bartender—is transforming into a karaoke hotspot. The story is set in a neighborhood that is also changing, gentrification inciting the ire of the established community.
Upon the unexpected death of one of the bar’s regulars, Juan is sent reeling, and a series of upheavals follow as he both seeks and spurns intimacy, pondering the legacy of distant parents and a failed marriage and grappling with his sexuality—all the while cycling and dating, drinking at Nicks Lounge, and parenting a determined and defiant child-become-woman.
When his incarcerated father dies and Stella reveals she’s pregnant, Juan is forced to examine the emotional bonds that both hold and hinder him, to reassess his ideas of commitment, of friendship, of love. His encounters with various characters—his mother, his ex-wife, a middle-aged punker, an aspiring acupuncturist, a dapper veteran—lead Juan to the realization that he himself must change to thrive.
This is a story of making family and making mistakes, of rending and of mending. As a Latinx queer father with a mixed-race daughter, Juan exemplifies the ways identity connects and divides us. With wit, insight, and tenderness, Big Familia explores the complexities of desire, devotion, and the mysteries of the heart.
The Book of Want: A Novel
Daniel A. Olivas University of Arizona Press, 2011 Library of Congress PS3615.L58B66 2011 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
When Moses descended Mount Sinai carrying the Ten Commandments, he never could have foreseen how one family in Los Angeles in the early twenty-first century would struggle to live by them.
Conchita, a voluptuous, headstrong single woman of a certain age, sees nothing wrong with enjoying the company of handsome—and usually much younger—men . . . that is, until she encounters a widower with unusual gifts and begins to think about what she really wants out of life.
Julieta, Conchita’s younger sister, walks a more traditional path, but she and her husband each harbor secrets that could change their marriage and their lives forever. Their twin sons, both in college, struggle to find fulfillment. Mateo refuses to let anyone stand in the way of his happiness, while Rolando grapples with his sexuality and the family’s expectations. And from time to time, Belén, the family’s late matriarch, pays a visit to advise, scold, or cajole her hapless descendants.
A delightful family tapestry woven with the threads of all those whose lives are touched by Conchita, The Book of Want is an enchanting blend of social and magical realism that tells a charming story about what it means to be fully human.
Brides have their dreams, sinners their secrets, but sometimes it’s not so easy to tell them apart.
In the border town of El Paso—better known to its Mexican American residents as El Chuco—dramas unfold in humdrum households every day as working-class men come home from their jobs and as their wives and children do their best to cope with life. Christine Granados now plumbs the heart of this community in fourteen startling stories, uncovering the dreams and secrets in which ordinary people sometimes lose themselves. Many fictional accounts of barrio life play up tradition and nostalgia; Brides and Sinners in El Chuco is a trip to the darker side. Here are memories of growing up in a place where innocence is always tempered by reality—true-to-life stories, told in authentic language, of young women, from preteens to twenty-somethings, learning to negotiate their way through troubled times and troubled families. In the award-winning story “The Bride,” a young girl recalls her sister as a perennial bride on Halloween, planning for her eventual big day in a pink notebook with lists of potential husbands, only to see her dream thwarted at the junior prom. In another, we meet Bobbi, the class slut, whose D-cup chest astounds the other girls and entices everyone—even those who shouldn’t be tempted.
Granados’ tales boldly portray women’s struggle for solidarity in the face of male abuse, and as these characters come to grips with self-discovery, sibling rivalry, and dysfunctional relationships, she shows what it means for Chicanas to grow up in protective families while learning to survive in the steamy border environment. Brides and Sinners in El Chuco is an uncompromising look at life with all its hard edges—told with enough softness to make readers come back for more.
The Brothers Corona: A Novel
Rogelio Guedea Texas Tech University Press, 2014 Library of Congress PQ7298.17.U22C6613 2014 | Dewey Decimal 863.64
A modern-day picaresque novel by one of Mexico’s best
The Brothers Corona is a novel that reads like a Sam Shepard story made into a Wim Wenders road movie. It is the first Mexican detective novel that reflects rural Mexican life and culture, showcasing the splendor of its customs and traditions.
The novel unfolds as two revolving stories that eventually intertwine into one. The first is the story of Abel Corona and his three brothers, who are involved in a nasty feud with the neighboring Alcaraz family. The second story focuses on the journey that Abel undertakes to search for his girlfriend by catching a ride from a truck driver who is involved in the drug trade. When he steals money from the driver, Abel starts fearing for his life. Then his brother Ismael is found dead, and Abel is confronted with an old family feud: a fight over land ending in death. Is he being lured into a trap to fall victim to revenge?
Portraying ranch life across the great expanse of northern and western Mexico, Guedea dazzles the reader with numerous subplot lines and sequences of Abel’s journey. The novel doesn’t hold back, and it’s inventive, honest, and often beautifully brutal.
Call Me Henri
Lorraine López Northwestern University Press, 2006 Library of Congress PZ7.L876363Cal 2006
Enrique, a young boy at the heart of Lorraine López's novel, faces abuse at home and danger on the barrio streets. Yet he is driven to succeed by the desire to join that "other America" he sees on TV and in the movies, and is aided in his quest by compassionate teachers. His ambition finds expression in his determination to drop his ESL class in favor of taking French, and his story begins, Call me Henri.
Lorraine López (author of Soy la Avon Lady and Other Stories) has created a vivid picture of barrio life, filled with honesty, insight, and humor for young adults. She paints a balanced and detailed landscape of Enrique's world. Although Enrique is confused and angered by his mother's refusal to stand up for him against the abuse of his stepfather, he also draws strength from the supportive and loving family of his friend Francisco. While some of his teachers are uncaring or inept, others provide help and encouragement at critical moments in his life.
When Enrique witnesses his friend Horacio gunned down in a drive-by shooting and is seen by the assailants, gang members set out to kill him. As the novel reaches its climax, Enrique must make some agonizing decisions.
Although specifically about barrio life, this novel is universal in its themes-the drive for success, the desire for love and family support, and the need for true friendship. López's fully delineated characters provide a rich and credible mural of our human comedy.
Chicano Sketches: Short Stories by Mario Suárez
Mario Suárez; Edited by Francisco A. Lomelí, Cecilia Cota-Robles Suárez, and Juan Casillas-Núñez University of Arizona Press, 2004 Library of Congress PS3569.U155C48 2004 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Mario Suárez will tell you: Garza’s Barber Shop is more than razors, scissors, and hair. It is where men, disgruntled at the vice of the rest of the world, come to get things off their chests. The lawbreakers come in to rub elbows with the sheriff’s deputies. And when zoot-suiters come in for a trim, Garza puts on a bit of zoot talk and "hep-cats with the zootiest of them."
A key figure in the foundation of Chicano literature, Mario Suárez (1923–1998) was among the first writers to focus not only on Chicano characters but also on the multicultural space in which they live, whether a Tucson barbershop or a Manhattan boxing ring. Many of his stories have received wide acclaim through publication in periodicals and anthologies; this book presents those eleven previously published stories along with eight others from the archive of his unpublished work. It also includes a biographical introduction and a critical analysis of the stories that will broaden readers’ appreciation for his place in Chicano literature.
In most of his stories, Suárez sought to portray people he knew from Tucson’s El Hoyo barrio, a place usually thought of as urban wasteland when it is thought of at all. Suárez set out to fictionalize this place of ignored men and women because he believed their human stories were worth telling, and he hoped that through his depictions American literature would recognize their existence. By seeking to record the so-called underside of America, Suárez was inspired to pay close attention to people’s mannerisms, language, and aspirations. And by focusing on these barrio characters he also crafted a unique, mild-mannered realism overflowing with humor and pathos.
Along with Fray Angélico Chávez, Suárez stands as arguably the mid-twentieth century’s most important short story writer of Mexican descent. Chicano Sketches reclaims Suárez as a major figure of the genre and offers lovers of fine fiction a chance to rediscover this major talent.
Lorraine M. López University of Arizona Press, 2015 Library of Congress PS3612.O635D37 2015 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Latina bibliophile Caridad falls out of love again and again, with much help from Anton Chekhov, Gustave Flaubert, Theodore Dreiser, D. H. Lawrence, Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Hardy, and other deceased white men of letters. Raised in a household of women, she rejects examples of womanhood offered by her long-suffering mother, her caustic eldest sister Felicia, and her pliant and sentimental middle sister Esperanza. Instead Caridad, a compulsive reader, educates herself about love and what it means to be a sentient and intelligent woman by reading classic literature written by men, and supplements this with life lessons gleaned from her relationships.
Though set in Los Angeles from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, the narrative reinscribes Anton Chekhov’s short story, “The Darling,” first published in 1899. Like Chekhov’s protagonist, Caridad engages in various relationships in her search for love and fulfillment. Rather than absorbing beliefs held by the men in her life, as does Chekhov’s heroine, Caridad instead draws on her lovers’ resources in attempting to improve and educate herself. Apart from Chekhov, various authors of classic literature further guide Caridad’s quest to find herself and to find love, inspiring her longing for love, while also enabling her to disentangle herself from unsatisfying to disastrous relationships by encouraging her to strive for an ideal.
In a moment of clarity, Caridad compares herself to a trapeze artist near the top of a striped tent as she flies from one man to the next, expecting to be caught and held until she is ready to leap again. Flying, she wonders—or is she falling?
Days of Plenty, Days of Want
Patricia Preciado Martin University of Arizona Press, 1999 Library of Congress PS3563.A7272D39 1999 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
For Patricia Preciado Martin, the past is every bit as real as the present. In Days of Plenty, Days of Want, past and present meet in a collection of strikingly crafted short stories that show us a heritage being irreverently pushed aside by "progress" yet passed along from person to person, century to century.
In the pages of this book are people so real you'll swear you've met them, situations so familiar you'll nod in recognition. Two of these stories have won prizes in Chicano literary contests; all will win the hearts of readers. Through them, Patricia Preciado Martin reminds us that freedom and self-expression are important in fulfilling our potential—and, more important, that a large part of this process requires acknowledging our heritage as a priceless gift whose relevance in our lives cannot be ignored.
Two brothers bury a statue of Saint Jude for their grieving nana. A Griffith Park astronomer makes his own discovery at an East L.A. wedding. A young man springs his Cherokee-obsessed grandfather from the confines of senility. The common thread? Each is weaving their way through the challenging field of play that is living and loving in Los Angeles.
In Dodger Blue Will Fill Your Soul, Bryan Allen Fierro brings to life the people and places that form the fragile heart of the East Los Angeles community. In the title story, a father’s love of Dodger baseball is matched only by the disconnect he must bridge with his young son. In another story, a young widower remembers his wedding day with his father-in-law. The boys and men in this collection challenge masculine stereotypes, while the girls and women defy gender roles. Hope and faith in their own community defines the characters, and propels them toward an awareness of their own personal responsibility to themselves and to their families, even as they eschew those closest to them in pursuit of a different future.
Dodger Blue Will Fill Your Soul is a tour de force—the first collection of an authentic new voice examining community with humor, hope, and brutal honesty.
Dreaming of the Delta
Perla Suez Texas Tech University Press, 2014 Library of Congress PQ7798.29.U36P3813 2015 | Dewey Decimal 863.64
A blend of fiction and drama, in which nothing is certain
With Dreaming of the Delta, Perla Suez joins the ranks of other prominent Argentine writers who have incorporated the horrors of the violent period of the Proceso de Reorganización Nacional. Highly experimental, this novel is a tale of secrecy, betrayal, and violence that reflects on a personal scale the national struggle for power and control at the height of the dictatorship of 1976 to 1983. And though violence takes center stage, it is played out in a private drama that unfolds in a mansion on the shores of the Paraná River in the province of Entre Ríos. Like the timeless river itself, Suez’s words ebb and flow across the pages, leaving in their wake volatile voids that suggest to the reader that what is not disclosed is as powerful as what is revealed. With a skeletal prose that blurs the line between novel, theater, and film, Suez condenses decades of cruelty and longing into a few brief hours.
El Milagro and Other Stories
Patricia Preciado Martin University of Arizona Press, 1996 Library of Congress PS3563.A7272M55 1996 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Ticking clocks and tolling bells, scents of roses and warm tortillas: this is the barrio of years past as captured in the words of Patricia Preciado Martin. Cuentos, recuerdos, stories, memories—all are stirred into a simmering caldo by a writer whose love for her heritage shines through every page.
Reminiscent of Like Water for Chocolate, the book is a rich mix of the simplest ingredients—food, family, tradition. We see Silviana striding to her chicken coop, triggering the "feathered pandemonium" of chickens who smell death in the air. We meet Elena, standing before the mirror in her wedding dress, and Teodoro Sánchez, who sleeps under the sky and smells of “chaparral and mesquite pollen and the stream bottom and the bone dust of generations. There’s the monsignor sitting on the edge of a sofa, sipping Nescafé from a china cup, and here is Sister Francisca "with her warm, minty breath" warning us away from impure thoughts. Be on your best behavior, too, in Tía Petra’s Edwardian parlor—la Doña Petrita, descended from conquistadores, might just deliver a tap on your head with her silver-handled walking stick. Then, with Mamacita, spend a summer afternoon bent over your embroidery with trembling hand and sweaty upper lip, and all the while wondering what in the world it feels like to be kissed.
Intermingled with the author’s stories are collective memories of the barrio, tales halfway between heaven and earth that seem to connect barrio residents to each other and to their past. These cuentos are mystical and dreamy, peopled with ghosts and miracles and Aztec princesses dressed in feathers and gold. Come, sit down and have some salsa and a tortilla—fresh and homemade, it goes without saying; people who buy tortillas at the market "might as well move to Los Angeles, for they have already lost their souls." Then open the pages of this book. Help yourself to another feast of food and flowers, music and dancing, sunshine and moonlight—everything glorious and mundane, serious and humorous, earthly and spiritual, poignant and joyful, in la vida mexicoamericana.
Eugenia: A Fictional Sketch of Future Customs
Eduardo Urzaiz, Edited and translated by Sarah A. Buck Kachaluba and Aaron Dziubinskyj University of Wisconsin Press, 2016 Library of Congress PQ7297.U78E813 2016 | Dewey Decimal 863.62
A little-known gem of utopian/dystopian fiction published in 1919 tells
the story of a eugenically engineered society of the future.
It is the year 2218. In "Villautopia," the capital of a Central American nation, the
state selects young, biologically desirable citizens to act as breeders. Embryos
are implanted in males to increase a flagging population rate, and the offspring
are raised in state facilities until old enough to choose their own, nonnuclear
families. Sterilization of children with mental or physical abnormalities further
ensures the purity of the gene pool.
Written two years before Yevgeny Zamyatin's We and twelve years before
Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, Eugenia recounts the story of Ernesto, who at age twenty-three is selected as a breeder. Celiana, his thirty-eight-year-old lover
and an accomplished scholar, is deemed unfit for reproduction. To cope with
her feelings of guilt and hopelessness, she increasingly turns to marijuana, and
her scholarly productivity declines. Meanwhile Ernesto falls in love with a fellow
breeder, a young woman named Eugenia—but the life they ultimately choose is
not quite what the state had envisioned.
Taking up important challenges of modern society—population growth,
reproductive behavior and technologies, experimentation with gender roles,
and changes in family dynamics—Eugenia is published here in English for the
first time. Sarah A. Buck Kachaluba and Aaron Dziubinskyj provide a critical
apparatus helping readers to understand the novel's literary genesis and genealogy
as well as its historical context. Arising from its twentieth-century origins, yet
remarkably contemporary, Eugenia is a treasure of speculative fiction.
Finalist, 2012 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction
Carla Trujillo brings to life another side of the fabled city of Santa Fe in this rollicking novel set in Dogtown, a dilapidated neighborhood on the outskirts of town. Home to a hardscrabble community of working people struggling to make a living on meager means, Dogtown is worlds apart from the tourists, artists, and upscale eateries just a stone’s throw away. The close-knit neighborhood thrives in its own way, until an entrepreneur arrives with a plan to cast out its occupants and construct a winery in its place.
Led by Dogtown’s unofficial mayor, Pepa Romero—an irreverent healer with old-world wisdom and new-age knowledge—the citizens of Dogtown revolt. Using everything at their disposal, including spying, supernatural powers, the law, and individual cunning, they set in motion a thrilling and at times hilarious chain of events that culminates in a storm of epic proportions. With an unforgettable cast of characters, Faith and Fat Chances illuminates the ingenuity and resilience of people fighting to preserve their way of life.
In the border shantytown of Ysleta, Mexican immigrants Pilar and Cuauhtémoc Martínez strive to teach their four children to forsake the drugs and gangs of their neighborhood. The family’s hardscrabble origins are just the beginning of this sweeping new novel from Sergio Troncoso.
Spanning four decades, this is a story of a family’s struggle to become American and yet not be pulled apart by a maelstrom of cultural forces. As a young adult, daughter Julieta is disenchanted with Catholicism and converts to Islam. Youngest son Ismael, always the bookworm, is accepted to Harvard but feels out of place in the Northeast where he meets and marries a Jewish woman. The other boys—Marcos and Francisco—toil in their father’s old apartment buildings, serving as the cheap labor to fuel the family’s rise to the middle class. Over time, Francisco isolates himself in El Paso while Marcos eventually leaves to become a teacher, but then returns, struggling with a deep bitterness about his work and marriage. Through it all, Pilar clings to the idea of her family and tries to hold it together as her husband’s health begins to fail.
This backdrop is then shaken to its core by the historic events of 2001 in New York City. The aftermath sends shockwaves through this newly American family. Bitter conflicts erupt between siblings and the physical and cultural spaces between them threaten to tear them apart. Will their shared history and once-common dreams be enough to hold together a family from Ysleta, this wicked patch of dust?
The vast Texas borderland is a place divided, a land of legends and lies, sanctification and sinfulness, history and amnesia, haunted by the ghosts of the oppressed and the forgotten, who still stir beneath the parched fields and shimmering blacktops. It is a realm filled with scorpion eaters and mescal drinkers, cowboys and Indians, Anglos and Chicanos, spirit horses and beat-up pickups, brujos and putas, aching passion and seething rage, apparitions of the Virgin and bodies in the Rio Grande.
In his first collection of short fiction, award-winning poet, editor, and anthologist Ray Gonzalez powerfully evokes both the mystery and the reality of the El Paso border country where he came to manhood.
Here, in a riverbed filled with junked cars and old bones, a young boy is given a dark vision of a fiery future. Under the stones of the Alamo, amid the gift shops and tour buses, the wraiths of fallen soldiers cry out to be remembered. By an ancient burial site at the bottom of a hidden canyon, two lovers come face to face with their own dreams and fears.
In these stories, Ray Gonzalez is a literary alchemist, blending contemporary culture with ancient tradition to give a new voice to the peoples of the border.
Lyn Miller-Lachmann Northwestern University Press, 2009 Library of Congress PZ7.M6392Gri 2009
Daniel’s papá, Marcelo, used to play soccer, dance the cueca, and drive his kids to school in a beat-up green taxi—all while publishing an underground newspaper that exposed Chile’s military regime.
After papá’s arrest in 1980, Daniel’s family fled to the United States. Now Daniel has a new life, playing guitar in a rock band and dating Courtney, a minister’s daughter. He hopes to become a US citizen as soon as he turns eighteen.
When Daniel’s father is released and rejoins his family, they see what five years of prison and torture have done to him. Marcelo is partially paralyzed, haunted by nightmares, and bitter about being exiled to “Gringolandia.” Daniel worries that Courtney’s scheme to start a bilingual human rights newspaper will rake up papá’s past and drive him further into alcohol abuse and self-destruction. Daniel dreams of a real father-son relationship, but he may have to give up everything simply to save his papá’s life.
This powerful coming-of-age story portrays an immigrant teen’s struggle to reach his tortured father and find his place in the world.
How to Name a Hurricane
Rane Arroyo University of Arizona Press, 2005 Library of Congress PS3551.R722H69 2005 | Dewey Decimal 818.5409
There’s no denying it, media culture has ushered in a new era of visibility for gays in America. Yet somehow the gay Latino doesn’t fit into this sound-bite identity and usually isn’t included in national media images. Rane Arroyo offers a corrective. Known primarily as a poet and playwright representing the gay Latino community, Arroyo has also been publishing prose throughout his career and now gathers into this book a storm of writing that has been gaining strength, drop by drop, for more than ten years.
How to Name a Hurricane collects short stories and other fictions depicting Latino drag queens and leather men, religious sinners and happy atheists, working class heroes and cyberspace vaqueros—a parade of characters that invites readers to consider whether one is more authentic a gay Latino than another. Whereas actual hurricanes are given names, the gays given voice in this collection must name themselves—and these narratives in turn reveal something of the "I" of Hurricane Rane. Whether portraying a family gathering as Brideshead Revisited with a mambo soundtrack, recounting the relationship of transvestite Louie/Lois and her bisexual Superman, or bemoaning "feeling as unsexy as an old bean burrito in a 7-11 microwave," Arroyo tracks the heartbeat of his characters through a shimmering palette of styles. Here are monologues, a story in verse, and other experimental forms appropriate to experimental lives—all affirming the basic human rights to dignity, equality, love, and even silliness.
When the AIDS epidemic first hit, many Latino families destroyed any remembrances of their gay and bisexual sons that might betray their pasts to la familia or el pueblo. Arroyo’s writings return the ghosts of those sons to the families, bars, dance clubs, and neighborhoods where they belong. By penetrating to the I’s of narrative hurricanes, these stories honor the survivors of our ongoing cultural storms.
In Search of Snow
Luis Alberto Urrea University of Arizona Press, 1999 Library of Congress PS3571.R74I5 1999 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
In the hot Arizona desert of the late 1950s, Mike McGurk comes of age in one big, riotous gush. Trapped pumping gas at a desolate roadstop, he yearns for things he has never known: love, hope, and the soft, white calmness of snow. Mike's world is filled with a menagerie of quirky characters, who cope with the weight of their unfulfilled dreams with bravado, humor, and violence. Mike trades snappy insults with his macho father, Texaco Turk McGurk, a moustachioed amateur boxer and self-proclaimed war hero who is unable to talk about love. Mike lusts after Lily, his seductive, poem-writing cousin. He cowers before and then confronts the vicious Ramses, grandson of Mr. Sneezy, the wisecracking Apache. And he is rescued by his best friend, Bobo, who delivers him into the care of the loving and generous Mama and Papa Garcia.
In Search of Snow is an explosive coming-of-age adventure, full of hilarious episodes and still, poignant moments. Like a blue-collar Don Quixote, Mike must blow up his windmills before he can set off to find the things he lacks, especially the snow that will temper the passion he has just set aflame.
This is not your ordinary short story collection. In his newest work, Daniel Chacón subverts expectation and bends the rules of reality to create stories that are intriguing, hilarious, and deeply rooted in Chicano culture. These stories explore the concept of a wall that reaches beyond our immediate thoughts of a towering physical structure. While Chacón aims to address the partition along the U.S.-Mexico border, he also uses these stories to work through the intangible walls that divide communities and individuals—particularly those who straddle multiple cultures in their daily lives.
Set in El Paso and other Latinx-dominant urban spaces, Kafka in a Skirt is an immersive look into the myriad lives of the characters who inhabit these culturally diverse areas. Chacón masterfully weaves elements of the surreal and fantastic through a shining tapestry of fiction, creating moments of touching realism in contrast with scenes that are fascinatingly unfamiliar. Occasionally teasing the ghosts of Jorge Luis Borges and the Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik, this collection disregards boundaries and transports readers into a world merely parallel to our own. Kafka in a Skirt unravels the intricacies of culture, sexuality, love, and loneliness in a collection that shows the personal implications of barriers while remaining hopeful and bright.
Wanderers and writers, gangbangers and lawyers, dreamers and devils. The King of Lighting Fixtures paints an idiosyncratic but honest portrait of Los Angeles, depicting how the city both entrances and confounds. Each story serves as a reflection of Daniel A. Olivas’s grand City of Angels, a “magical metropolis where dreams come true.”
The characters here represent all walks of L.A. life—from Satan’s reluctant Craigslist roommate to a young girl coping with trauma at her brother’s wake—and their tales ebb and flow among various styles, including magical realism, social realism, and speculative fiction. Like a jazz album, they glide and bop, tease and illuminate, sadden and hearten as they navigate effortlessly from meta to fabulist, from flash fiction to longer, more complex narratives.
These are literary sketches of a Los Angeles that will surprise, connect, and disrupt readers wherever they may live.
"She asked me if I liked them. And what could I say? They were wonderful." From the very beginning of Sergio Troncoso's celebrated story "Angie Luna," we know we are in the hands of a gifted storyteller. Born of Mexican immigrants, raised in El Paso, and now living in New York City, Troncoso has a rare knack for celebrating life.
Writing in a straightforward, light-handed style reminiscent of Grace Paley and Raymond Carver, he spins charming tales that reflect his experiences in two worlds. Troncoso's El Paso is a normal town where common people who happen to be Mexican eat, sleep, fall in love, and undergo epiphanies just like everyone else. His tales are coming-of-age stories from the Mexican-American border, stories of the working class, stories of those coping with the trials of growing old in a rapidly changing society. He also explores New York with vignettes of life in the big city, capturing its loneliness and danger.
Beginning with Troncoso's widely acclaimed story "Angie Luna," the tale of a feverish love affair in which a young man rediscovers his Mexican heritage and learns how much love can hurt, these stories delve into the many dimensions of the human condition. We watch boys playing a game that begins innocently but takes a dangerous turn. We see an old Anglo woman befriending her Mexican gardener because both are lonely. We witness a man terrorized in his New York apartment, taking solace in memories of lost love. Two new stories will be welcomed by Troncoso's readers. "My Life in the City" relates a transplanted Texan's yearning for companionship in New York, while "The Last Tortilla" returns to the Southwest to explore family strains after a mother's death—and the secret behind that death. Each reflects an insight about the human heart that has already established the author's work in literary circles.
Troncoso sets aside the polemics about social discomfort sometimes found in contemporary Chicano writing and focuses instead on the moral and intellectual lives of his characters. The twelve stories gathered here form a richly textured tapestry that adds to our understanding of what it is to be human.
The Letters That Never Came
Mauricio Rosencof Texas Tech University Press, 2014 Library of Congress PQ8520.28.O7C3713 2014 | Dewey Decimal 863.64
An interweaving of longing and reemergence
Originally published in Spanish in 2000 and first appearing in English in 2004, The Letters that Never Came is an autobiographical novel in three parts that reflects Rosencof’s life growing up in 1930s Uruguay as the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants and, later, his twelve-year imprisonment during the military dictatorship his country suffered.
Part I is a rich evocation of life in Montevideo in the mid-1930s as seen through the eyes of young Moishe. Every day, Moishe's father waits for the postman, hoping for news of his family, who are prisoners of the Nazis. Interspersed among Moishe’s reminiscences are the letters those relatives might have written—but never came.
In Part II, Moishe is imprisoned in the dungeons of the military junta that governed Uruguay in the 1970s and 1980s. Tortured and starving, he takes refuge in the world of his imagination, composing another letter that never came—a letter to his father that embodies his own quest for identity.
Part III is largely a meditation on the redemptive power of the word, real and imagined. This poignant, humane work, as Uruguayan and Jewish as it is universal, links the cruelty of the Holocaust to that of the Uruguayan military and the resistance of Hitler's victims to his own.
Xbox videogamer cholo cyberpunks. Infants who read before they talk. Vatos locos, romancing abuelos, border crossers and border smugglers, drug kingpins, Latina motorbike riders, philosophically musing tweens, and so much more.
The stories in this dynamic bilingual prose-art collection touch on the universals of romance, family, migration and expulsion, and everyday life in all its zany configurations. Each glimpse into lives at every stage—from newborns and children to teens, young adults, and the elderly—further submerges readers in psychological ups and downs. In a world filled with racism, police brutality, poverty, and tensions between haves and have-nots, these flashes of fictional insight bring gleaming clarity to life lived where all sorts of borders meet and shift.
Frederick Luis Aldama and graphic artists from Mapache Studios give shape to ugly truths in the most honest way, creating new perceptions, thoughts, and feelings about life in the borderlands of the Américas. Each bilingual prose-art fictional snapshot offers an unsentimentally complex glimpse into what it means to exist at the margins of society today. These unflinching and often brutal fictions crisscross spiritual, emotional, and physical borders as they give voice to all those whom society chooses not to see.
Mariposa's Song: A Novel
Peter LaSalle Texas Tech University Press, 2012 Library of Congress PS3562.A75246M37 2012 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Pretty, twenty-year-old Mariposa has entered the U.S. from Honduras by way of Nuevo Laredo, without documentation. She now serves drinks and woos customers as a B-girl—sort of a dime-a-dance arrangement—in a shabby nightclub on the east side of Austin, Texas. Rough work, it's at least giving her a start in America.Between the norteño and cumbia songs the DJ plays, a smooth-talking Anglo out-of-towner who calls himself Bill shows up at the club one Saturday night to sit and casually chat with Mariposa. He smiles and sympathizes; his flattery leads her to reveal the secret pain she has kept hidden so long. But Mariposa has no way of knowing that he's being hunted by police throughout the Southwest.Even in Austin, far from the border, there are dangers more sinister than narcotraficantes or la migra.LaSalle’s intense, haunting novel beckons readers into the shadowy lives of undocumented workers in the U.S. and the difficult choices they must face. Written as a single book-length sentence, Mariposa's Song is also a truly innovative achievement in the novel form itself, as it continually startles and satisfies with stylistic daring and sheer lyrical radiance.
Mañana Means Heaven
Tim Z. Hernandez University of Arizona Press, 2013 Library of Congress PS3608.E768M36 2013 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
In this love story of impossible odds, award-winning writer Tim Z. Hernandez weaves a rich and visionary portrait of Bea Franco, the real woman behind famed American author Jack Kerouac’s “The Mexican Girl.” Set against an ominous backdrop of California in the 1940s, deep in the agricultural heartland of the Great Central Valley, Mañana Means Heaven reveals the desperate circumstances that lead a married woman to an illicit affair with an aspiring young writer traveling across the United States.
When they meet, Franco is a migrant farmworker with two children and a failing marriage, living with poverty, violence, and the looming threat of deportation, while the “college boy” yearns to one day make a name for himself in the writing world. The significance of their romance poses vastly different possibilities and consequences.
Mañana Means Heaven deftly combines fact and fiction to pull back the veil on one of literature’s most mysterious and evocative characters. Inspired by Franco’s love letters to Kerouac and Hernandez’s interviews with Franco, now in her nineties and living in relative obscurity, the novel brings this lost gem of a story out of the shadows and into the spotlight.
Elegant prose and imaginative ironies bring these compelling short stories to life in this first English-language collection from Mexican author Roberto Ransom. Each of the ten stories is filled with fascinating, yet enigmatic and sometimes elusive characters: an alligator in a bathtub, an invisible toad who appears only to a young boy, the beautiful redheaded daughter of a mushroom collector, a deceased journalist who communicates in code, and even Leonardo Da Vinci himself, meditating on The Last Supper. One of Mexico’s most original writers, Ransom explores these characters’ emotional depths as they move through their fantastical worlds that, while at times unfamiliar, offer brave and profound insights into our own.
Missing Persons, Animals, and Artists is the follow-up to Ransom’s highly acclaimed A Tale of Two Lions, praised by Ignacio Padilla as “the best Mexican literary work I have read in recent years. . . . [It] heralds a pen capable of that rarest of privileges in our letters: attaining the comic and profoundly human through a perfect simplicity.” This collection of short stories has been translated with great care by Daniel Shapiro.
In THE MORNING SIDE OF THE HILL, Ezra E. Fitz' debut novella, he asks readers: What if you anted up and kicked in everything you had on a belief, a hope, a dream, on faith, and you lost? This is one of the questions facing Willie and Mo, the two insecure, incomplete protagonists that was inspired by--and is an homage to--William Faulkner's classic novel, THE WILD PALMS. Like Faulkner's novel, it unfolds in two parallel stories told in alternating chapters that subtly illuminate one another. Set in Harlem and Crown Heights in Brooklyn, the twin tales gather like a storm to an exhilarating ferocity, culminating in a violent flood of passions that none of the characters can control, and which threatens to drown them all. Faulkner fans may think they know what the end holds for these characters, but rest assured, the finale of THE MORNING SIDE OF THE HILL exposes an unexpected coincidence that Faulkner may have hinted at but never fully explored.
Papi: A Novel
Rita Indiana University of Chicago Press, 2016 Library of Congress PQ7409.2.H355P3613 2016 | Dewey Decimal 863.7
“Papi’s there, around any corner,” says the eight-year-old girl at the heart of Papi. “But you can’t sit down and wait for him cuz that’s a longer and more painful death.” Living in Santo Domingo, she waits for her father to come back from the United States and lavish her with the glorious rewards of his fame and fortune—shiny new cars and polo shirts, gold chains and Nikes. But when Papi does come back, he turns out to be more “like Jason, the guy from Friday the 13th," than a prince. Papi is a drug dealer, a man who is clearly unreliable and dangerous but nevertheless makes his daughter feel powerful and wholly, terrifyingly alive.
Drawing on her memories of a childhood split between Santo Domingo and visits with her father amid the luxuries of the United States, Rita Indiana mixes satire with a child’s imagination, horror with science fiction, in a swirling tale of a daughter’s love, the lure of crime and machismo, and the violence of the adult world. Expertly translated into English for the first time by Achy Obejas, who renders the rhythmic lyricism of Indiana’s Dominican Spanish in language that propels the book forward with the relentless beat of a merengue, Papi is furious, musical, and full of wit—a passionate, overwhelming, and very human explosion of artistic virtuosity.
"A man doesn’t sleep with the moon. He sleeps with his hunger, gathers bowls of avocados and wipes his lips with his sins."
The Religion of Hands does not foster sleep. Look quickly and you will catch the hint of a fox streaking in front of your car’s headlights at night. Look more carefully out your bedroom window and you may see your life going by, lost loved ones waving hello.
"Who were you when the stars were misinterpreted as the fingertips of God?"
Ray Gonzalez blends symbolic play with lyrical beauty as he works from a vast and complex palette to infuse popular culture with myth. The Religion of Hands is imbued with magical realism: a suffocating dream of tamales, mysterious reptilian allusions, a man who "finds God walking down the stairs to hand him an old, tattered phonebook from the year he was born." It offers strange prophecies: "A steady vegetation will grow across the empire as more homeboys are killed in drive-bys. . . . Microscopic scratches on an old vinyl record will form a message discovered in twenty more years when the album is bought at a garage sale." And in 14 flash fictions, it tells of a tiny old man kept in a glass jar, an accordion stored in an old family trunk, tales of sharks and bandits. The religion of hands has its own unspoken sacraments. "The fingers take over, teaching whoever holds the moment that the rapid weight of the open hands is a dangerous way to live."
Seamlessly, effortlessly, multi-dexterously, Ray Gonzalez spins words that speak our very dreams.
This is the first book-length study of one of the most prominent and prolific Latino academics, Ilan Stavans. He has written extensively on Latino culture, Jewish culture, dictionaries, immigration, language, Spanglish, soccer, translation, travel, selfies, and God. The Restless Ilan Stavans surveys his interests, achievements, and flaws while he is still in the midst of an extraordinarily productive career. A native of Mexico who became a U.S. citizen, he is an outsider to both the Chicano community that often resents him as an interloper and the American Jewish community that he, who grew up speaking Yiddish in Mexico City, often chides. The book examines his unlikely rise to prominence within the context of the spread of multiculturalism as a seminal principle within American culture. A self-proclaimed cosmopolitan who rejects borders, Stavans is both insider and outsider to the myriad of subjects he approaches.
Kathleen de Azevedo University of Arizona Press, 2006 Library of Congress PS3601.Z483S26 2006 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Rosea spoke, her voice steady. “I was in jail a long time, you know. I’m paying for my sins. Now I live in a dingy apartment. I get to watch my neighbors’ kids play and have a normal life that I’ll never have. I smell their barbecues. I’m already in hell, believe me.” Joe turned to go back to the car. “You don’t know what hell is. You have no idea.”
When José Francisco Verguerio Silva arrives at LAX, fleeing the brutal dictatorship in his native Brazil, he is determined to become Americanized at all costs. He lands a job driving a Hollywood tour bus and posing as Ricky Ricardo. He marries a blonde waitress and becomes the father of twins. Yet happiness remains elusive for Joe as he is haunted by flashbacks of prison torture. And soon a torrid affair with Rosea Socorro Katz, the crazed daughter of Hollywood’s Brazilian star Carmen Socorro, proves to be even more dangerous than the life he has fled.
Rosea spent her childhood watching her mother unravel as the celebrity system toyed with and eventually destroyed her career. Carmen had always claimed to be descended from Amazons, the woman warriors of legend, but she was tamed by Hollywood. Not Rosea. She has just finished serving jail time for setting fire to the home of her ex-husband—in an attempt to destroy his collection of Brazilian artifacts—and sets out to salvage her life.
Along the way, she manages to tear down the lives of everyone she meets. The Brazil of the imagination is shattered in this novel of two tortured souls wrestling with the myths of movies, politics, and the American Dream. Laced with fantastic tales of bird-boys and cannibal rituals, it spins a compelling story of desperation as it reminds us that American freedom and the myth of unbridled opportunity can also consume and destroy.
Sex as a Political Condition: A Border Novel is a raucous, hilarious journey through political dangers that come in all shapes, cup sizes, and sexual identities, a trip into the wild, sometimes outrageous world of the Texas-Mexico border and all geographical and anatomical points south.
Honoré del Castillo runs the family curio shop in the backwater border town of Escandón, Texas, and fears dying in front of his TV like some six-pack José in his barrio. Encouraged by his friend Trotsky, he becomes politically active—smuggling refugees, airlifting guns to Mexican revolutionaries, negotiating with radical Chicana lesbians—but the naked truths he faces are more often naked than true and constantly threaten to unman him. When a convoy loaded with humanitarian aid bound for Nicaragua pulls into Escandón, his journey to becoming a true revolutionary hero begins, first on Escandón’s international bridge and then on the highways of Mexico. But not until both the convoy and Honoré’s mortality and manhood are threatened in Guatemala does he finally confront the complications of his love for his wife and daughter, his political principles, the stench of human fear, and ultimately what it means to be a principled man in a screwed-up world.
Simone: A Novel
Eduardo Lalo University of Chicago Press, 2015 Library of Congress PQ7440.L29S5613 2015 | Dewey Decimal 863.64
Eduardo Lalo is one of the most vital and unique voices of Latin American literature, but his work is relatively little known in the English-speaking world. That changes now: this masterful translation of his most celebrated novel, Simone—which won the 2013 Rómulo Gallegos International Novel Prize—will introduce an English-language audience to this extraordinary literary talent.
A tale of alienation, love, suspense, imagination, and literature set on the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Simone tells the story of a self-educated Chinese immigrant student courting (and stalking) a disillusioned, unnamed writer who is struggling to make a name for himself in a place that is not exactly a hotbed of literary fame. By turns solipsistic and political, romantic and dark, Simone begins with the writer’s frustrated, satiric observations on his native city and the banal life of the university where he teaches—forces utterly at odds with the sensuality of his writing. But, as mysterious messages and literary clues begin to appear—scrawled on sidewalks and walls, inside volumes set out in bookstores, left on his answering machine and under his windshield wiper—Simone progresses into a cat-and-mouse game between the writer and his mystery stalker. When the eponymous Simone’s identity is at last revealed, the writer finds in the life of this Chinese immigrant a plight not unlike his own. Traumatized and lonely, the pair moves towards bittersweet collaborations in passion, grief, and art.
Jack Lopez University of Arizona Press, 2001 Library of Congress PS3562.O67245S63 2001 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
A construction worker takes up with the pregnant daughter of an acquaintance and finds he doesn't control the relationship as much as he thinks he does . . .
A couple searches for a lost dog along the beach because the dog is more important than their relationship . . .
A drunken man picks up a girl hitchhiker and remembers what it once felt like to have feelings for someone else . . .
What does it mean to be male in a world in which old borders no longer exist? How can a man have a relationship if he doesn't even know who he is—and what better way to find out than by committing to a woman? Snapping Lines brings familiar and new stories together in a collection that explores the lives of loners searching for love. Jack Lopez writes about people who have adopted a stoical indifference to a world in which they always seem to find themselves on the losing end. These stories explore Latino male identity and the forces that shape it: friends, family, and lovers; culture, place, and relationships. They focus on men—often working men in the building trades—who construct their lives through their work and live in perpetual limbo because they don't know who they are. Men who stumble onto the relationships they need almost by accident. Men who try to control their relationships but fail.
Written in spare, electric language and energized by memorable scenes, these stories enlighten as much as they entertain. When you have read Snapping Lines, you will come to see the faces of strangers in new and familiar ways.
Spiral of Silence: A Novel
Elvira Sánchez-Blake; Translated from the Spanish by Lorena Terando; Foreword byDebra A. Castillo Northwestern University Press, 2019 Library of Congress PQ8180.429.A478.E7713 2019 | Dewey Decimal 863.7
Elvira Sánchez-Blake's shattering testimonial novel, Spiral of Silence, breaks thirty-year silences about the traumatizing impact of Colombia's civil war, and centers on the experiences of women who move through hopelessness, loss, and grief during this volatile era in Latin American history.
A multigenerational epic, Spiral of Silence (Espiral de Silencios) opens in the early 1980s, as peace and amnesty agreements spark optimism and hope. We meet Norma, a privileged, upper-class woman who is married to an army general; Maria Teresa (Mariate), a young rebel who loves a guerrilla fighter and navigates commitments to motherhood and revolutionary activism; and Amparo, a woman who comes of age later, and carries the confusion and dislocation of a younger generation. Each contends with the consequences of war and violence on her life; each is empowered through community-building and working for change.
Few authors have considered the role of women in Colombia during this wartime period, and Sánchez-Blake's nuanced exploration of gender and sexism—framed by conflict and social upheaval—distinguishes the novel. Drawing on stories from women who have worked within organizations in Colombia to end state violence, Spiral of Silence celebrates resistance, reinvention, and how women create and protect their families and communities.
Naomi Raquel Enright's Strength of Soul proposes tangible strategies and ideas on how to challenge systemic racism through naming and resisting the ideology of racial difference and of the white supremacy at its root. Enright explores racism and the language that upholds this ideology through personal narratives that include an examination of her family’s experience. Throughout this volume, Enright shares reflections of her identity growing up as a bilingual, multiethnic individual, and as the mother of a son presumed to be white. She also advances ideas about how to confront societal notions of an inherent difference between the lived experiences of white people and everyone else, notions which result in the widely held belief that there is an inevitable “us” and “them.” Enright suggests that embracing one’s total identity can allow people to challenge systemic racism as well as the language and ideology that created it and upholds it. In these poignant and deeply personal stories, Enright allows readers to imagine a society on a genuine path towards justice, healing, and true transformation. Strength of Soul is for anyone who is willing to rethink the status quo and is interested in creating systemic change regarding institutionalized and internalized racism.
In the Latinx comics community, there is much to celebrate today, with more Latinx comic book artists than ever before. The resplendent visual-verbal storyworlds of these artists reach into and radically transform so many visual and storytelling genres. Tales from la Vida celebrates this space by bringing together more than eighty contributions by extraordinary Latinx creators. Their short visual-verbal narratives spring from autobiographical experience as situated within the language, culture, and history that inform Latinx identity and life. Tales from la Vida showcases the huge variety of styles and worldviews of today’s Latinx comic book and visual creators.
Whether it’s detailing the complexities of growing up—mono- or multilingual, bicultural, straight, queer, or feminist Latinx—or focusing on aspects of pop culture, these graphic vignettes demonstrate the expansive complexity of Latinx identities. Taken individually and together, these creators—including such legendary artists as Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, Roberta Gregory, and Kat Fajardo, to name a few—and their works show the world that when it comes to Latinx comics, there are no limits to matters of content and form. As we travel from one story to the next and experience the unique ways that each creator chooses to craft his or her story, our hearts and minds wake to the complex ways that Latinxs live within and actively transform the world.
Time Commences in Xibalbá
Luis de Lión; Translated by Nathan C. Henne University of Arizona Press, 2012 Library of Congress PQ7499.2.L53T513 2012 | Dewey Decimal 863.64
Time Commences in Xibalbá tells the story of a violent village crisis in Guatemala sparked by the return of a prodigal son, Pascual. He had been raised tough by a poor, single mother in the village before going off with the military. When Pascual comes back, he is changed—both scarred and “enlightened” by his experiences. To his eyes, the village has remained frozen in time. After experiencing alternative cultures in the wider world, he finds that he is both comforted and disgusted by the village’s lingering “indigenous” characteristics.
De Lión manages to tell this volatile story by blending several modes, moods, and voices so that the novel never falls into the expected narrative line. It wrenches the reader’s sense of time and identity by refusing the conventions of voice and character to depict a new, multi-layered periphery. This novel demands that we leave preconceptions about indigenous culture at the front cover and be ready to come out the other side not only with a completely different understanding of indigeneity in Latin America, but also with a much wider understanding of how supposedly peripheral peoples actually impact the modern world.
The first translation into English of this thought-provoking novel includes a conluding essay by the translator suggesting that a helpful approach for the reader might be to see the work as enacting the never-quite-there poetics of translation underlying Guatemala’s indigenous heart. An afterword by Arturo Arias, the leading thinker on Indigenous modernities in Guatemala, offers important approaches to interpreting this challenging novel by showing how Guatemala’s colonial legacy cannot escape its racial overtones and sexual undertones as the nation-state struggles to find a suitable place in the modern world.
"The truth about Alicia was that she wasn’t that stable to begin with. So when she did what she did, no one was very surprised. Still it was shocking, the way she followed them from the hardware store to the woman's house, the way she broke the sliding glass door with the tire jack, the way she found them in bed. It was more than she could take, her being seven months pregnant and all. It only took two shots. . . . "
Alicia is not the only woman with problems. In these stories about contemporary and traditional Latinas, Ana Consuelo Matiella uses sensitivity and wit to address issues faced by women of color and women everywhere—issues largely having to do with love: between men and women, mothers and daughters, women and friends. In engaging stories about family myths, gossip, and lies, comadres converse over afternoon café con leche. "I'm sure that I was the only wife whose husband was teaching their daughter to do Cheech Marin imitations," remarks one of Matiella's characters. Another sings the praises of the chocolate milkshake diet: "That’s one advantage of living on the border. You get to try all the latest gringo inventions as soon as they hit the streets." Through encounters with angels, conversations with dogs, and relationships with men overly concerned with the dimensions of their manhood, Matiella offers a new exploration of the human condition—one showing us that if we cannot laugh at life, no matter how tragic the circumstances, we are surely doomed.
With humor and insight that come only through close observation of her fellow human beings, this gifted writer brings new twists to familiar scenes. The Truth about Alicia and Other Stories is an authentic portrayal of the world of contemporary Chicanas that will delight everyone who enters it.
Uselessness: A Novel
Eduardo Lalo University of Chicago Press, 2017 Library of Congress PQ7440.L29I8813 2017 | Dewey Decimal 863.64
The streets of Paris at night are pathways coursing with light and shadow, channels along which identity may be formed and lost, where the grand inflow of history, art, language, and thought—and of love—can both inspire and enfeeble. For the narrator of Eduardo Lalo’s Uselessness, it is a world long desired. But as this young aspiring writer discovers upon leaving his home in San Juan to study—to live and be reborn—in the city of his dreams, Paris’s twinned influences can rip you apart.
Lalo’s first novel, Uselessness is something of a bildungsroman of his own student days in Paris. But more than this, it is a literary précis of his oeuvre—of themes that obsess him still. Told in two parts, Uselessness first follows our narrator through his romantic and intellectual awakenings in Paris, where he elevates his adopted home over the moribund one he has left behind. But as he falls in and out of love he comes to realize that as a Puerto Rican, he will always be apart. Ending the greatest romance of his life—that with the city of Paris itself—he returns to San Juan. And in this new era of his life, he is forced to confront choices made, ambitions lost or unmet—to look upon lives not lived.
A tale of the travails of youthful romance and adult acceptance, of foreignness and isolation both at home and abroad, and of the stultifying power of the desire to belong—and to be moved—Uselessness is here rendered into English by the masterful translator Suzanne Jill Levine. For anyone who has been touched by the disquieting passion of Paris, Uselessness is a stirring saga.
This collection of poems by Jesús Papoleto Meléndez reads as a poetic autobiography of a hopeless romantic. Borracho invites us to find the essence of a man’s character laid bare in the foibles of his desire and passionate pursuit of love. Spanning the poet’s fifty-year career, this volume of fifty love poems takes us on a journey through the poet’s winding paths of love and life. Beginning with poems dedicated to his mother and father, the cascading style of Meléndez’s verse strings together a series of vignettes within a flowing narrative of the poet’s life in love. They offer lyrical glimpses into the struggle to find love and into a life lived in deep connection, and they lead us to bittersweet moments in the company of an aging man. The poems spring from times of exhilarating joy, sinking darkness, and painful absence, taking us on a journey through love’s highs and lows.
This bilingual edition, with Spanish translations by Carolina Fung Feng, invites us to fall in and out of the winding complexities of love. Anyone who has navigated love and loss will find some affinity with these poems and a sense of companionship with the poet.
2006 Independent Publisher Book Award for Story Teller of the Year
In this updated edition of Ana Castillo’s celebrated novel in verse, featuring a new introduction by Poet Laureate of Texas Carmen Tafolla, we revisit the story’s spirited heroine, known only as “Ella” or “She,” as she takes us through her own epic journey of self-actualization as an artist and a woman. With a remarkable combination of tenderness, lyricism, wicked humor, and biting satire, Castillo dramatizes Ella’s struggle through poverty as a Chicano single mother at the threshold of the twenty-first century, fighting for upward mobility while trying to raise her son to be independent and self-sufficient. Urged on by the gods of the ancients, Ella’s life interweaves with those of others whose existences are often neglected, even denied, by society’s status quo. Castillo’s strong rhythmic voice and exploration of such issues as love, sexual orientation, and cultural identity will resonate with readers today as much as they did upon the book’s original publication more than ten years ago. This expanded edition also includes a short preface by the author, as well as a glossary, a reader’s guide, and a list of additional suggested readings.
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.
Through his characters and their true-to-life situations, Arroyo makes visible both internal and external conflicts that are deeply rooted in—and affected by—place. A bodega, a university town, a factory, a Chicago street, some dusty potato fields: here is where we encounter ordinary people who work, dream, love, and persist in the face of violence, bereavement, disappointment, and loss—particularly the loss of mothers, fathers, and loved ones.
Arroyo's characters experience a strange wonder as the midwestern United States increasingly appears to be a place created by the Latinas and Latinos who remain out of the sight and minds of Anglos. In lyrical language weighted by detail, exquisite imagery, and evocative story, Arroyo imagines characters who confront the tattered connections between memory and longing, generations and geographies, place and displacement, as they begin to feel their own longings, "breathing in whatever was offered, feeling, deep in the small and fragile borders of my heart," as one character puts it, "that it came with a sorrow I could never betray."