Friday, July 03, 2015

#FridayReads: The Gods of Tango by Carolina De Robertis

From one of the leading lights of contemporary Latin American literature—a lush, lyrical, deeply moving story of a young woman whose passion for the early sounds of tango becomes a force of profound and unexpected change.

February 1913: seventeen-year-old Leda, carrying only a small trunk and her father’s cherished violin, leaves her Italian village for a new home, and a new husband, in Argentina. Arriving in Buenos Aires, she discovers that he has been killed, but she remains: living in a tenement, without friends or family, on the brink of destitution. Still, she is seduced by the music that underscores life in the city: tango, born from lower-class immigrant voices, now the illicit, scandalous dance of brothels and cabarets. 

Leda eventually acts on a long-held desire to master the violin, knowing that she can never play in public as a woman. She cuts off her hair, binds her breasts, and becomes “Dante,” a young man who joins a troupe of tango musicians bent on conquering the salons of high society. Now, gradually, the lines between Leda and Dante begin to blur, and feelings that she has long kept suppressed reveal themselves, jeopardizing not only her musical career, but her life. 

Richly evocative of place and time, its prose suffused with the rhythms of the tango, its narrative at once resonant and gripping, this is De Robertis’s most accomplished novel yet.


CAROLINA DE ROBERTIS was raised in England, Switzerland, and California by Uruguayan parents. She is the author of two previous novels, Perla and The Invisible Mountain (a Best Book of 2009 according to theSan Francisco Chronicle, O, The Oprah Magazine, and Booklist), the recipient of Italy’s Rhegium Julii Prize, and a 2012 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She has spent the past year living in Uruguay, but her permanent home is in Oakland, CA.

Friday, May 29, 2015

#FridayReads: The Domino Diaries: My Decade Boxing with Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway's Ghost in the Last Days of Castro's Cuba by Brin-Jonathan Butler

The Domino Diaries: My Decade Boxing with Olympic Champions and Chasing Hemingway's Ghost in the Last Days of Castro's Cuba by Brin-Jonathan Butler:

A powerful and lively work of immersive journalism, Brin-Jonathan Butler's story of his time chasing the American dream through Cuba

Whether he’s hustling his way into Mike Tyson’s mansion for an interview, betting his life savings on a boxing match (against the favorite), becoming romantically entangled with one of Fidel Castro’s granddaughters, or simply manufacturing press credentials to go where he wants—Brin-Jonathan Butler has always been the "act first, ask permission later" kind of journalist.

This book is the culmination of Butler’s decade spent in the trenches of Havana, trying to understand a culture perplexing to westerners: one whose elite athletes regularly forgo multimillion-dollar opportunities to stay in Cuba and box for their country, while living in penury. Butler’s fascination with this distinctly Cuban idealism sets him off on a remarkable journey, training with, befriending, and the champion boxers that Cuba seems to produce more than any other country.

In the process, though, Butler gets to know the landscape of the exhilaratingly warm Cuban culture—and starts to question where he feels most at home. In the tradition of Michael Lewis and John Jeremiah Sullivan, Butler is a keen and humane storyteller, and the perfect guide for this riotous tour through the streets of Havana.

BRIN-JONATHAN BUTLER is a writer and filmmaker. His work has appeared in ESPN Magazine, Vice, Deadspin, The Wall Street Journal, Salon, and The New York Times. Butler’s documentary, Split Decision, is Butler’s examination of Cuban American relations and the economic and cultural paradoxes that have shaped them since Castro’s revolution, through the lens of elite Cuban boxers forced to choose between remaining in Cuba or defecting to America.

Friday, May 08, 2015

#FridayReads: Sofrito by Phillippe Diederich

Sofrito by Phillippe Diederich:

A Cuban-American travels to Havana searching for a secret recipe where he finds love and the truth about his father.


"In this entertaining debut novel, Frank Delgado tries to save his failing restaurant by returning to Cuba, his dead father's homeland, to get ahold of a top-secret chicken recipe. But there is more than delicious chicken at stake here. Food is the road home-geographically, emotionally, metaphorically. Peppered with cooking advice from chefs, ordinary folks, and celebrities including Fidel Castro himself (an advocate of pork), Phillipe Diederich's Sofrito is a love letter to the deepest recesses of nostalgia's heart."-Cristina Garcia, author of Dreaming in Cuban and King of Cuba

Frank Delgado is no thief. He co-owns a failing Cuban restaurant in Manhattan's Upper East Side. The restaurant, like Frank, is rudderless. Lost. He decides he'll save the restaurant by traveling to Cuba to steal the legendary chicken recipe from the famed El Ajillo restaurant in Havana. The recipe is a state secret, so prized that no cook knows the whole recipe. But Frank's rationale is ironclad-Fidel stole the secret from his family, so he will steal it back. He will triumphantly bring that recipe back to Manhattan and turn his fortunes around.

Frank has no interest in Cuba. His parents fled after the Revolution. His dead father spent his life erasing all traces of Cuba from his heart with barbeques, television, lawn mowing and alcohol. So Frank is not prepared for the real Cuba. Sure, he gets beat up and almost killed, the secret service threatens him, but in the midst of the chaos, he falls in love with a prostitute and the city, and he unwraps the heroic story of his parents' life. Cuba begins to bind Frank together, the way a good sofrito binds the flavors of a Cuban dish.

Phillippe Diederich is a Haitian-American writer. Born in the Dominican Republic, he was raised in Mexico City and Miami. His parents were kicked out of Haiti by the dictatorship of Papa Doc Duvalier in 1963. He spent his youth listening to his parents and friends talking politics and nostalgically dreaming of the day they would return to Haiti. In 1980, the family moved to Miami, where they joined a community of exiles from all parts of Latin America-Cuba, Chile, Argentina, Nicaragua, El Salvador. Like other children of exiles, Diederich grew up without his relatives-grandparents, cousins, uncles, aunts.

Diederich traveled repeatedly to Cuba as a photojournalist throughout the 1990s. He has an MFA in creative writing from the University of South Florida and lives in Florida. This is his first novel.

Friday, April 10, 2015

#FridayReads: Mi Comida Latina: Vibrant, Fresh, Simple, Authentic by Marcella Kriebel

Mi Comida Latina: Vibrant, Fresh, Simple, Authentic by Marcella Kriebel

A stunning, hand-lettered and fully cookbook featuring more than 100 authentic recipes collected from home kitchens across Latin America.

Discovered as a successful self-published Kickstarter project, Mi Comida Latina captures the warmth and depth of culinary traditions in Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Puerto Rico. Artist/author Marcella Kriebel’s vivid, charming watercolors accompany more than 100 recipes including arepas, tamales, ceviches, fish tacos, salsas, flan, spicy micheladas and icy watermelon paletas, plus traditional kitchen tools, techniques and practical tips for choosing and preparing mango, cactus, yucca, coconut and other produce. Every page is a joyous work of art.


Marcella Kriebel is an artist, food enthusiast, and cookbook author. She lives in Washington, D.C.





Friday, April 03, 2015

#FridayReads: Empanadas: The Hand-Held Pies of Latin America by Sandra Gutierrez

Empanadas: The Hand-Held Pies of Latin America by Sandra Gutierrez

In Empanadas, cookbook author, recipe developer, and Latin America native Sandra Gutierrez delves deep into the world of empanadas, teaching home and professional cooks everything they need to know about these delicious hand-held pies. 

Found from New York to Los Angeles, from Mexico to Brazil and into the Latin Caribbean, empanadas are the most widely eaten hand-held pies in the world. They can be filled with a marvelous array of ingredients featuring simple, vibrant flavors and can make a perfect snack, everyday meal, decadent dessert, or great party fare. 

Empanadas offers a collection of the most delicious recipes and essential tips on creating the perfect mini pie for any occasion, from Argentinian cheesy spinach empanadas, crispy Mexican chorizo and potato pies with tomatillo salsa, and flaky Brazilian shrimp and tomato empanadas to Costa Rican empanaditas stuffed with gooey pineapple jam. 

With an introduction on the history of empanadas, a lesson on dough types and folding techniques, 60 succulent recipes, and mouthwatering color photographs throughout, Empanadas is a beautiful, practical, and definitive guide to making, serving, and enjoying everyone’s favorite hand-held pie.





Sandra A. Gutierrez grew up in Guatemala, is an expert on Latin American cuisine, and is the author of The New Southern-Latino Table and Latin American Street Food. She teaches cooking classes and blogs at sandraskitchen.typepad.com.

Friday, March 27, 2015

#FridayReads: Where the Bird Sings Best by Alejandro Jodorowsky

Where the Bird Sings Best by Alejandro Jodorowsky:

The magnum opus from Alejandro Jodorowsky—director of The Holy Mountain, star of Jodorowsky’s Dune, spiritual guru behind Psychomagic and The Way of Tarot, innovator behind classic comics The Incal and Metabarons, and legend of Latin American literature.


There has never been an artist like the polymathic Chilean director, author, and mystic Alejandro Jodorowsky. For eight decades, he has blazed new trails across a dazzling variety of creative fields. While his psychedelic, visionary films have been celebrated by the likes of John Lennon, Marina Abramovic, and Kanye West, his novels—praised throughout Latin America in the same breath as those of Gabriel García Márquez—have remained largely unknown in the English-speaking world. Until now. 

Where the Bird Sings Best tells the fantastic story of the Jodorowskys’ emigration from Ukraine to Chile amidst the political and cultural upheavals of the 19th and 20th centuries. Like One Hundred Years of Solitude, Jodorowsky’s book transforms family history into heroic legend: incestuous beekeepers hide their crime with a living cloak of bees, a czar fakes his own death to live as a hermit amongst the animals, a devout grandfather confides only in the ghost of a wise rabbi, a transgender ballerina with a voracious sexual appetite holds a would-be saint in thrall. Kaleidoscopic, exhilarating, and erotic, Where the Bird Sings Best expands the classic immigration story to mythic proportions.

Alejandro Jodorowsky was born to Ukrainian Jewish immigrants in Tocopilla, Chile. At twenty-three, he left for Paris to pursue theater and the arts, and has lived there ever since. His classic films include The Holy Mountain, El Topo, Santa Sangre, and, most recently, The Dance of Reality. A prolific author, he has written novels, poetry, short stories, essays, and more than thirty successful comic books. 
 
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