14 Latino books for your summer reading list

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As American readers keep pushing for diversity in literature, Austin360’s Cultura en Austin blog will continue to highlight  works by Latino authors and books with Latino themes.

This roundup, which isn’t a comprehensive list, is based on advanced copies of books received in the last couple of months.

BLACK DOVE book jacket high res
Photo contributed by The Feminist Press at CUNY

“Black Dove: Mamá, Mi’jo, and Me” by Ana Castillo

The Feminist Press at CUNY ($16.95), released May 2016

Celebrated Chicana writer and feminist Ana Castillo gives readers a glimpse into her life after the incarceration of her son. She weaves stories about her family’s history in Mexico and the U.S. and opens up about the love of her life who left her heartbroken. Castillo, who’s also a playwright, poet and scholar, is among the major voices in contemporary Chicano literature. Her classic collection of essays, “Massacre of the Dreamers” celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2014.

“The Clouds” by Juan José Saer

Open Letter at the University of Rochester ($14.95), released May 2016

Argentine author Juan José Saer’s faux historical novel gets translated from its original Spanish version in this latest release. Saer, who died in his adopted home of France in 2005, takes readers to present-day Paris in this novel where someone discovers a manuscript that could be either fictional or a memoir. In the manuscript, a nineteenth century physician takes five mental patients on an eventful trip to a new asylum.

“The Other Slavery” by Andrés Reséndez

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ($30), released April 2016

Professor and historian Andrés Reséndez shines a light on an eye-opening part of American history – the enslavement of American Indians across the U.S. dating back from the conquistadors to the early 20th century. Reséndez argues that “mass slavery was more damaging than the disease epidemics that decimated indigenous populations across North America.”

“The Inspiring Life of Texan Héctor P. García” by Cecilia García Akers

The History Press ($21.99), released April 2016

Cecilia García Akers, the daughter of influential Texan Héctor P. García, brings the accomplishments of her father to the forefront in this inspiring biography. In 1940, he was the only Mexican immigrant who graduated from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. García went on to become a physician and activist who served in World War II and  then later founded the American GI Forum.

Photo contributed by The University of Texas Press
Photo contributed by The University of Texas Press

“Graphic Borders: Latino Comic Books Past, Present, and Future” co-edited by Frederick Luis Aldama & Christopher González

University of Texas Press ($29.95), released April 2016

From boundary-pushing comics created by Latinos to the Latino superheroes found in mainstream comics, “Graphic Borders” explores the creative ways comics can express Latino identity and culture. It’s the first volume in a series dedicated to world comics and graphic nonfiction.

“Raza Rizing: Chicanos in North Texas” by Richard J. Gonzales

University of North Texas Press ($29.95), released March 2016

From marches on immigration reform to inside a Fort Worth public school classroom, author Richard J. Gonzales takes readers to important historical and political events in recent history that helped shape the Chicano community in North Texas.

“Latino Young Men and Boys in Search of Justice: Testimonies” Co-edited by Frank de Jesús Acosta and Henry A. J. Ramos

Arte Público Press ($16.95), released March 2016

This collection brings together moving first-person essays, poems and letters by Latino men and boys who have been or are incarcerated. In their writings they reflect on their past and future including writing letters to their younger selves. Some community advocates also write essays seeking criminal and juvenile justice system reform. Drawings and artwork are also featured.

“A History of Violence: Living and Dying in Central America” by Óscar Martínez

Verso Books ($24.95), released March 2016

Acclaimed Salvadorean author and journalist Óscar Martínez’ latest book chronicles the underbelly of some of the world’s most dangerous places. Martínez, who is also the author of the award-winning book “The Beast,” goes undercover to drink with narcos, rides in trafficking boats and hides out with a gang informer as part of his immersive account of the region.

“Verdict in the Desert” by Patricia Santos Marcantonio

Arte Público Press ($17.95), released March 2016

Former crime reporter Patricia Santos Marcantonio crafts a courtroom drama exploring race and class in 1950s America. Her latest novel also weaves in a tale of forbidden love as it tells the story of the unlikely meeting of an alcoholic lawyer and a college-educated Mexican American woman who are brought together by a murder case.

“Look into My Eyes: Nuevomexicanos por Vida” by Kevin Bubriski

Museum of New Mexico Press ($39.95), released March 2016

New Mexican photographer Kevin Bubriski captures stunning photos of life in the Land of Enchantment from 1981-1983. The striking black and white portraits document everyone from lowrider bikers to festival queens.

Photo Contributed by University of Texas Press

“Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: Tejanas in Literature and Art” edited by Inés Hernández-Ávila & Norma Elia Cantú

University of Texas Press ($34.95), released February 2016

More than fifty authors and eight artists make up the first Tejana literature and art anthology. The project, according to the editors, took nearly 20 years to complete. The book highlights everything from poetry, artwork and personal essays from some of the state’s most influential women including Pat Mora, the 2015 Texas Book Festival Texas Writer Award recipient and the late Chicana feminist writer and scholar Gloria Anzaldúa.

“The Coyote’s Bicycle: The Untold Story of Seven Thousand Bicycles and the Rise of a Borderland Empire” by Kimball Taylor

Tin House Books ($26. 95), released February 2016

Journalist Kimball Taylor grew curious when he first encountered abandoned bicycles across the Tijuana border. That curiosity led him to uncover the story behind a multi-million dollar business led by a coyote who brought undocumented immigrants into the U.S. on bicycles.

“Perfect Days” by Raphael Montes

Penguin Press ($25.00), released February 2016

One of Brazil’s rising crime novelists brings a twisted tale of suspense that’s been described as creepier than “Gone Girl.” In his psychological thriller, author Raphael Montes tells the story of unrequited love between a loner and an aspiring screenwriter who’s his exact opposite. When she rejects him, he kidnaps her and attempts to retrace a bizarre road trip she wrote about in one of her screenplays.

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Photo contributed by Saddle Road Press

“Blood Sugar Canto” by Ire’ne Lara Silva

Saddle Road Press ($16.00), released January 2016

Award-winning Austin poet Ire’ne Lara Silva explores the struggles of diabetes in uniquely personal prose. A masterful wordsmith, Silva opens her heart with readers and shares stories about her own diagnosis and the healing process. Silva also co-coordinates Austin’s Flor De Nopal Literary Festival.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading Roundup: Six books about Latino culture

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More than ever American readers are seeking books that reflect the communities around them. The national We Need Diverse Books movement, which children’s book authors launched in 2014, has grown to include a demand for multicultural books of all genres. It’s sparked conversations in the literary world about everything from inclusion of diverse characters in books to a lack of diversity in publishing.

Last fall, the Texas Book Festival’s executive director Lois Kim told the Statesman the festival’s goal was to improve diversity. Earlier this month, Matt de la Peña became the first Latino author to win the prestigious John Newbery Medal for literature for his children’s book, “Last Stop on Market Street,” which features African American main characters.

As American readers keep pushing for diversity in literature, Austin360’s Cultura en Austin blog will begin regularly highlighting works by Latino authors and Latino themes.

This roundup, which isn’t a comprehensive list, is based on galleys received in the last couple of months.

“Outside the Margins” Literary Commentaries by Robert Bonazzi

Wings Press, ($18.95), released Oct. 2015
The best of San Antonio Express-News poetry columnist Robert Bonazzi’s work are woven together in “Outside the Margins.” Over the years, his essays and criticisms have been praised by literary giants including Nobel Prize Winner in Literature Octavio Paz. “Thanks to Robert Bonazzi for writing so enthusiastically about the poetry of Latin America, especially for his insightful essay on (Peruvian poet) César Vallejo,” Paz wrote. In this book, Bonazzi focuses on poets and writers from Texas, the Southwest, Mexico and Latin America.
“A Fighting Chance” by Claudia Meléndez Salinas

Piñata Books, Arte Público Press, ($10.95), released Oct. 2015

Cover design by John-Michael Perkins
Cover design by John-Michael Perkins

In her debut novel for young adults, award-winning multimedia journalist Claudia Meléndez Salinas brings us the story of 17-year-old Miguel Ángel. He dreams of becoming a boxing champion one day – it’s the only way his mother and five siblings will be able to leave his gang-ridden neighborhood. But his life gets complicated when he’s faced with temptations that threaten his future.

“Cuando México se (re) apropria de Texas: Ensayos or When Mexico Recaptures Texas: Essays” by Carmen Boullosa

Arte Público Press, ($17.95), released Sept. 2015
Greed, barbarism and feminism. They’re all themes that internationally renowned Mexican novelist and essayist Carmen Boullosa explores in her latest book, which examines the issues that unite and separate Americans and Mexicans from the 19th century to the present. Her collection of 29 thought-provoking essays include subjects such as Occupy Wall Street and the lack of recognition for the work by female artists. The book includes both Boullosa’s Spanish version and the English translation by Nicolás Kanellos.

 

“Texas Mexicans and Postwar Civil Rights” by Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez

University of Texas Press, ($24.95), released in July 2015
As founder and director of the Austin-based Voces Oral History Project (formerly the U.S. Latino & Latina World War II Oral History Project) Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez has helped bring the stories of Latinos throughout the decades to the forefront. Her latest book highlights three little-known advancements in Mexican American civil rights including the launching of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).

 

“Their Lives, Their Wills: Women in the Borderlands, 1750-1846” by Amy M. Porter

Texas Tech University Press, ($39.95), released in July 2015
What was life like for women in the borderlands during the 1700 and 1800s? Author Amy M. Porter, an associate professor of history at Texas A&M University-San Antonio took an interesting approach to answering that question by examining the wills of women in the Spanish and Mexican colonial communities of places such as Santa Fe, El Paso and San Antonio. These wills and testaments revealed details about everything from religion and family to economics and culture.

 

“War Against All Puerto Ricans” by Nelson A. Denis

Nation Books, ($28.99), released in April 2015

Courtesy of Nation Books
Courtesy of Nation Books

Author Nelson A. Denis tells the intriguing story of the Puerto Rican independence revolt of 1950, when the Nationalist Party of Puerto Rico launched an unsuccessful armed insurrection against the U.S. Denis dug into de-classified FBI files, congressional testimonies, oral histories and more to bring this little-known history to light.