Friday, May 30, 2014

#FridayReads: Til the Well Runs Dry By Lauren Francis-Sharma

"A first novel, yes. But balanced with experiences, imagery, and characters that linger on the flesh. Eyes. In the heart. And as I read the last paragraph and closed the book, I knew that I had experienced an amazing journey of light. Thank you my dear sister for this wonderful book." —Sonia Sanchez, poet and writer

"With an intense voice, Lauren Francis-Sharma draws us into old Trinidad, weaving a classic immigrant's tale, punctuated with the heady scents and rhythms of a bygone time, carrying us to the new world." -- Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, author of A Tiger in the Kitchen

Lauren Francis-Sharma, a child of Trinidadian immigrants, was born in New York City and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature with a minor in African-American Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband and two children. 'Til the Well Runs Dry is her first novel.

 A glorious and moving multi-generational, multicultural saga that begins in the 1940s and sweeps through the 1960’s in Trinidad and the United States

Lauren Francis-Sharma's 'Til the Well Runs Dry opens in a seaside village in the north of Trinidad where young Marcia Garcia, a gifted and smart-mouthed 16-year-old seamstress, lives alone, raising two small boys and guarding a family secret. When she meets Farouk Karam, an ambitious young policeman (so taken with Marcia that he elicits the help of a tea-brewing obeah woman to guarantee her ardor), the risks and rewards in Marcia’s life amplify forever.

On an island rich with laughter, Calypso, Carnival, cricket, beaches and salty air, sweet fruits and spicy stews, the novel follows Marcia and Farouk from their amusing and passionate courtship through personal and historical events that threaten Marcia’s secret, entangle the couple and their children in a scandal, and endanger the future for all of them.

'Til the Well Runs Dry tells the twinned stories of a spirited woman’s love for one man and her bottomless devotion to her children. For readers who cherish the previously untold stories of women’s lives, here is a story of grit and imperfection and love that has not been told before.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The 2014 Summer Book List

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” - Marcel Proust

This isn't your usual summer reads list. There aren't any breezy, romance-driven beach reads, heavily budgeted blockbuster thrillers, or hipsterish darlings. This list is a list of diverse, underrepresented, multicultural narratives from voices near and far to expose, refresh, broaden, delight and nurture our minds:

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

Some of the characters in The Book of Unknown Americans were born in the United States, others came as adults or were brought here from Central and South America. Their stories speak to us, involve us in their lives. They dream, meet challenges, and dare to live on hope. Sometimes they cry, but they also laugh, dance, make love. In this beautiful book, Cristina Henríquez introduces us to their vibrant lives, to heartbreaking choices, to the tender beginnings of love, and to the humanity in every individual. Unforgettable.” —Esmeralda Santiago, author of When I Was Puerto Rican and Conquistadora


An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

Once you start this book, you will not be able to put it down. An Untamed State is a novel of hope intermingled with fear, a book about possibilities mixed with horror and despair. It is written at a pace that will match your racing heart, and while you find yourself shocked, amazed, devastated, you also dare to hope for the best, for all involved.”—Edwidge Danticat, author of Breath, Eyes, Memory and The Dew Breaker



Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

"According to the Bookseller, the novel tells the story of Tsukuru Tazaki, “whose life changed when his relationships with his high school friends were severed.” As a 36-year-old adult, Tsukuru decides “to reconnect with all of those friends to discover the reason behind their decision to reject him.” His four best friends are known as Mr. Red, Mr. Blue, Miss White and Miss Black; but Tsukuru is “colorless” because, among his closest friends, he is the only one without a kanji symbol for color in his name. the Guardian said." via LA Times.



The Last Illusion by Porochista Khakpour

Utterly original and compelling, Porochista Khakpour's The Last Illusion weaves Iranian myth with very contemporary American neurosis to create a bittersweet poetry all its own. This ambitious, exciting literary adventure is at once grotesque, amusing, deeply sad—and wonderful, too.” —Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs



Take This Man: A Memoir by Brando Skyhorse

A tale of family deceit, identity and self discovery.

Buck: A Memoir by M.K. Asante

“Remarkable . . . Asante’s prose is a fluid blend of vernacular swagger and tender poeticism. . . . [He] soaks up James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston and Walt Whitman like thirsty ground in a heavy rain. Buck grew from that, and it’s a bumper crop.”—Salon

Unexpected Stories by Octavia E. Butler

"Two never-before-published stories from the archives of one of science fiction’s all-time masters." -- Open Road Media


The Closer: My Story by Mariano Rivera and Wayne Coffey

"Even Babe Ruth as a slugger doesn't have Rivera's kind of consensual clout.... Rivera was known as perhaps baseball's classiest act. He keeps up that reputation here.... Rivera emerges on these pages as a wordsmith.... It's the kind of baseball odyssey that leaves readers with a sense of the Homerian that later extends to the stuff of clutch strikeouts, "Casey at the Bat"-style grandeur and fallen records."—Colin Fleming, Los Angeles Times



Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera

"By turns tender, beautiful, and devastating, Island of A Thousand Mirrors is a deeply resonant tale of an unraveling Sri Lanka. Incredibly moving, complex, and with prose you may want to eat, this debut is a triumph."—NoViolet Bulawayo, award-winning author of We Need New Names

Adultery by Paulo Coelho

Bored thirty-something woman with a perfect life ignites affair with her H.S. love.

The Interior Circuit: A Mexico City Chronicle by Francisco Goldman

Goldman’s story of his emergence from grief five years after his wife’s death, symbolized by his attempt to overcome his fear of driving in the city.

Life by the Cup: Ingredients for a Purpose-Filled Life of Bottomless Happiness and Limitless Success by Zhena Muzyka

The founder of Zhena’s Gypsy Tea Company tells her extraordinary story of struggle, hope, and audacity, inspiring women to overcome setbacks—no matter how daunting—and pursue their dreams. By combining her knowledge of aromatherapy and her gypsy grandmother’s teachings, Zhena started selling custom tea blends from a cart on California street corners—and with a lot of ingenuity and grit, her business took off.

Enjoy the summer!!!



Sunday, May 25, 2014

DIY: Dulce de Ajonjoli / Sesame Seed Candy (Recipe Inside)

When I was very little my mother found endless way to entertain us even when the refrigerator and pantry were less than full. One of her special treats were dulces de ajonjoli and nothing cheered me up more than eating candy made by my very own mom.

Here's a quick and pretty easy way to make your own Sesame Seed Candy at home:

* Sandra has one here, it's in Spanish but just use Google to translate the page.

 

Friday, May 23, 2014

#FridayReads: The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

During a flight to Boston, while browsing through the Oprah Magazine I came acrossThe Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez. I think you might like this one, folks:

A boy and a girl who fall in love. Two families whose hopes collide with destiny. An extraordinary novel that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be American.

Arturo and Alma Rivera have lived their whole lives in Mexico. One day, their beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter, Maribel, sustains a terrible injury, one that casts doubt on whether she’ll ever be the same. And so, leaving all they have behind, the Riveras come to America with a single dream: that in this country of great opportunity and resources, Maribel can get better.

When Mayor Toro, whose family is from Panama, sees Maribel in a Dollar Tree store, it is love at first sight. It’s also the beginning of a friendship between the Rivera and Toro families, whose web of guilt and love and responsibility is at this novel’s core.

Woven into their stories are the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America. Their journeys and their voices will inspire you, surprise you, and break your heart. 

Suspenseful, wry and immediate, rich in spirit and humanity, The Book of Unknown Americans is a work of rare force and originality.

Cristina Henríquez is the author of the novel The Book of Unknown Americans, forthcoming in June 2014, as well as the novel The World in Half, and the short story collection Come Together, Fall Apart, which was a New York Times Editors' Choice selection. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, American Scholar, Glimmer Train, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, AGNI, and the Virginia Quarterly Review, where she was named one of "Fiction's New Luminaries." She is also the recipient of an Alfredo Cisneros Del Moral Foundation Award. Henríquez lives in Illinois.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Throwbacks: Water Saints & Geographies of Home

I recently came across these two books published a few years ago that I think might be right up your alley, especially for my Dominican's:

Song of the Water Saints by Nelly Rosario 

This vibrant, provocative début novel explores the dreams and struggles of three generations of Dominican women. Graciela, born on the outskirts of Santo Domingo at the turn of the century, is a headstrong adventuress who comes of age during the U.S. occupation. Too poor to travel beyond her imagination, she is frustrated by the monotony of her life, which erodes her love affairs and her relationship with Mercedes, her daughter. Mercedes, abandoned by Graciela at thirteen, turns to religion for solace and, after managing to keep a shop alive during the Trujillo dictatorship, emigrates to New York with her husband and granddaughter, Leila. Leila inherits her great-grandmother Graciela’s passion-driven recklessness. But, caught as she is between cultures, her freedom arrives with its own set of obligations and dangers.

Geographies of Home by Loida Maritza Perez 

After leaving the college she'd attended to escape her religiously conservative parents, Iliana, a first-generation Dominican-American woman, returns home to Brooklyn to find that her family is falling apart: one sister is careening toward mental collapse, another sister is living in a decrepit building with her abusive husband and three children, and a third sister has simply disappeared. In this dislocating urban environment Iliana reluctantly confronts the anger and desperation that seem to seep through every crack of her family's small house, and experiences all the contradictions, superstitions, joys, and pains that come from a life caught between two cultures. In this magnificent debut novel, filled with graceful prose and searing detail, Loida Maritza Pérez offers a penetrating portrait of the American immigrant experience as she explores the true meanings of identity, family--and home.

Have you read either of these?

Friday, May 09, 2014

The Latino Lit Syllabus - Required Reading

I minored in English Literature and some of my favorite books have been a result of required reading especially from my Multicultural Literature courses. I don't think I would have discovered Maxine Hong, Jean Toomer, or Lois-Ann Yamanaka otherwise.

Taking a cue from the recent airing of Junot Diaz' MIT Course Syllabus, I've decided to share some other notable required reading lists that you might find interesting:

Introduction to U.S. Latino/a Literature - Florida Atlantic University
José Martí. “Coney Island.” (1881)
María Amparo Ruíz de Burton. From The Squatter and the Don. (1885)
Jesús Colón. Excerpts from A Puerto Rican in New York and Other Sketches. (1961)
Piri Thomas. Down These Mean Streets. (1967)
Oscar Zeta Acosta. Revolt of the Cockroach People. (1973)
Selections of Nuyorican Poets. (1960s-1970s)
Sandra Cisneros. The House on Mango Street. (1984)
Gloria Anzaldúa. Borderlands/La Frontera. (1987)
Cristina Garcia. Dreaming in Cuban (1992)
Ana Menéndez. Loving Che. (2003)
Junot Diaz. Drown. (1996)
Yxta Maya Murray. Locas. (1998)
Tanya Maria Barrientos. Family Resemblance. (2003)
Ernesto Quiñonez. Bodega Dreams. (2000)
Ilan Stavans. The Hispanic Condition. (1996)
Juan Flores. From Bomba to Hip-Hop. (2000)
Lisa Sánchez González. Boricua Literature. (2001)
Gustavo Pérez Firmat. Life on the Hyphen. (1994)
Román de la Campa. Cuba on my Mind. (2000)
Raphael Dalleo and Elena Machado Sáez. The Latino/a Canon and the Emergence of Post-Sixties Literature. (2007)

University of California, Santa Cruz:
Manuel Muñoz, The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue
Helena Maria Viramontes, Under the Feet of Jesus
H.G. Carrillo, Loosing My Espanish
Jaime Hernández, The Education of Hopey Glass
Héctor Tobar, The Tattooed Soldier

University of Nebraska Omaha:
The Squatter and the Don (1885) by Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton
George Washington Gomez (Paredes wrote this novel in the 1940s and 1950s but it wasn’t published until 1990)by Américo Paredes
And the Earth Did Not Devour Him (1987) by Tomás Rivera
Borderlands/La Frontera (1987) by Gloria Anzaldúa
The Rain God (1991) by Arturo Islas
So Far From God (1993) by Ana Castillo
Days of Awe (2001) by Achy Obejas
Acuña, Rudolfo: Occupied America: A History of Chicanos
Aranda Jr., Jose: When We Arrive: A New Literary History of Mexican America Extinct Lands,
Brady, Mary Pat: Temporal Geographies: Chicana Literature and the Urgency of Space
Paredes, Américo: Folklore and Culture on the Texas Mexican Border
Paz, Octavio: The Labyrinth of Solitude
Saldívar, Ramón: Chicano Narrative: The Dialectics of Difference
Torres, Eden: Chicana Without Apology

Introduction to Latino/a Studies:
Michelle Habell-Pallan and Mary Romero Latino/a Popular Culture (ed.)
Julia Alvarez, In the Name of Salomé
Rudolfo Anaya, Bless Me, Ultima
Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera
Black Artemis, Picture Me Rollin’
Angie Cruz, Soledad
Junot Díaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Cristina Garcia, Dreaming in Cuban
Ana Menéndez, Loving Che
Ernesto Quiñonez, Bodega Dreams
Piri Thomas, Down These Mean Streets
Esmeralda Santiago, When I was Puerto Rican
Helena Maria Viramontes, Their Dogs Came With Them

There are many of these online and I only posted some of the ones that didn't contain too many of the usual notables. Next time you are looking for some great titles to read and discover this might be a new avenue for direction.


 
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