Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Why book industry sees the world split still by race

This blog became an idea in my head, when one day I went to a local Barnes and Noble bookstore and hit the "Hispanic" section. I was shocked to see one lonesome book there on the shelf that called itself the "Hispanic" section. In the past months I have received many a note telling me that nonwhite authors and their books are not marginalized by society, as a redress I found this article quite interesting.

Why book industry sees the world split still by race

Wednesday, December 06, 2006
By Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, The Wall Street Journal

Brandon Massey's readers tell him they know just where to find his horror
novels -- in the African-American section of bookstores. He's torn about whether
or not this is a good thing. "You face a double-edged sword," says Mr. Massey,
33 years old. "I'm black and I'm published by a black imprint, so I'm
automatically slotted in African-American fiction." That helps black readers to
find his books easily and has underpinned his career.

At the same time, he says, the placement "limits my sales."

Should fiction written by black authors be shelved in African-American departments, a move that often helps nurture writers? Or should it be presented alongside other categories, such as general literature, allowing books written by black authors to take their place in publishing's mainstream?

The issue -- stirring up a broader debate between assimilation and
maintaining a distinct identity -- has come to the fore because of a recent
explosion in black fiction at a time when book sales as a whole are in decline.
For the first nine months of 2006, bookstore sales fell 1.6 percent to $12.1
billion, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau. By
comparison, major New York publishers say black authors are flourishing.

"It's a hot area, and everyone is rushing in," says Judith Curr, publisher
of CBS Corp.'s Atria imprint, where African-American authors contribute about 25
percent of the titles published annually. African-American sections are the rule
at Borders and Waldenbooks, chains both owned by Borders Group Inc., as well as
many airports and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. outlets. Inc. and Barnes &
Noble Inc., the country's largest book retailer, don't follow the practice.

There, Mr. Massey's books, which include "Thunderland" and "Dark Corner," are
found in the horror section or in general fiction.

Organizing literature by race is one of the few open demarcations between
white and black apparent in the nation's malls and shopping centers. For other
consumer goods, the matter is less clear cut.Health and beauty products
specifically designed to address the needs of African-Americans are sometimes
grouped together. A Duane Reade store in Mamaroneck, N.Y., for example, has an
"Ethnic Shampoo" section. In the music business, by contrast, some categories
such as rhythm and blues and rap are dominated by black performers. But
retailers don't market these artists under a separate "African-American"

Black consumers spent more than $300 million on books last year, according
to Ken Smikle, publisher of Black Issues Book Review, a unit of Chicago-based
Target Market News Inc. That's more than twice as much as they spent in the
early 1990s. Bookspan, the book-club company owned by Bertelsmann AG and Time Warner Inc., says its Black Expressions Book Club boasts 460,000 members,
compared with 345,000 for its famed Book of the Month Club.

Black Expressions is expected to generate double-digit growth in both its sales and membership through the next few years, estimates Markus Wilhelm, Bookspan's CEO. "The growth has been stunning," he says.Craig Werner, chairman of Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, attributes the current interest in black authors to an expanding black middle class that has both money and leisure time. "As every scholar of the novel has concluded, the novel is a
middle-class genre," he says.

For years, classics of black literature – Richard Wright's "Native Son"
(1940), Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" (1952), James Baldwin's "Go Tell It On
the Mountain" (1953) -- appeared on bookstores shelves side by side with books
by white authors. African-American sections date to the late 1960s and early
1970s, when black culture and identity was generating regular headlines. Writers
and activists such as Eldridge Cleaver, Stokely Carmichael and Bobby Seale were
redefining the black experience, and booksellers rushed to group them together.

When Borders opened its first new book store in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1973,
it included an African-American section. "In the historical context of the Civil
Rights movement, when African-Americans were no longer being defined in terms of white culture, it made complete sense to have a separate department," says Joe
Gable, a longtime Borders executive who for many years managed that store. "It
still makes sense because race continues to be a defining issue."

The division is perpetuated up and down the publishing food chain. Romantic
Times Book Reviews, bible of the huge romance industry, divides its influential
"Top Picks" page into as many as 10 categories, ranging from inspirational to
paranormal. Getting chosen is a huge boon because libraries and stores will
likely buy the book in large numbers, says Gwynne Forster, the author of 26
novels, including the recently published "When You Dance with the Devil." But
the magazine lumps black writers of all genres into one African-American

Carol Stacy, the magazine's publisher, says the African-American label
makes it easier for readers to find those books. "We know we're walking a fine
line, but the reader wants to know if a book has African-American characters,"
she says. Publishers deliberately market books to black readers that way, she
adds. Marva Allen, one of the owners of the Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe in
Harlem, says that the term African-American refers to a culture, not a skin
color, and therefore has a special sensibility.

"A lot of African-American writers don't write for the crossover
market, they write from a cultural identity," says Ms. Allen. Moreover, she
asks, how many white readers will browse through a book when the front cover
depicts black characters and the author is black? Bennett J. Johnson, vice
president of Chicago's Third World Press and a longtime publisher of black
authors, says the practice appeals to a universal proclivity to think in terms
of race. In that sense, publishing is merely a reflection of how the world
works, he says. What publishers don't understand, Mr. Johnson suggests, is that
the practice reinforces the notion that the U.S. remains a nation of "two
separate societies."

Before the 1990s, many black writers who wrote about black characters
produced ambitious epic stories in the manner of Toni Morrison's "Song of
Solomon." There was little room for black authors who wanted to write popular
genre fiction such as romance novels, horror stories or erotica. Leticia Peoples
says she found the attitude of white publishers so frustrating that in the late
1980s she decided to publish her own line of black romance novels. "I called a
couple of romance companies to find out why they weren't accepting black
manuscripts and I heard things like, 'We don't have to do it because black women
will read what's on the market' or 'Black women can't write, so where would we
get our writers?'" says Ms. Peoples.

She launched her own line in 1989 called Odyssey Books. Three years later
came a landmark: the publication of Terry McMillan's third book, "Waiting to
Exhale," which ignited the market for books aimed at black audiences. The novel,
a breezy look at the daily lives of four black women, perched on The Wall Street
Journal's best-seller list for 36 weeks. Says Ms. McMillan: "It was contemporary
-- which was important -- and it was written in a voice that a lot of black
women could identify with." The author says she doesn't tailor her novels for
any audience and opposes putting books in black sections -- where hers are found
-- a practice she calls a "disservice" and "racist."

At the same time, Ms. McMillan says she understands the sales incentive for
booksellers. Her solution: Put books by African-Americans in both places. As a
practical matter, segregating books by race and culture makes it less likely
that black writers will hit the national best-seller lists -- whites make up a
majority of book buyers -- limiting their chances of earning bigger paychecks.
Nadine Aldred, who writes as Millenia Black, says that writer Jennifer Weiner
might not have become a best-selling author if her books had been sold
exclusively in a Jewish-American section.

Ms. Weiner, whose books include "Good in Bed" and "Little Earthquakes,"
agrees. "If my books were perceived as Jewish 'chick lit,' there would be a
narrower appeal," she says. In October, Ms. Aldred filed a lawsuit against her
publisher, the American arm of Pearson PLC's Penguin Group, in U.S. District
Court for the Southern District of New York. In the suit, she alleges that her
editor asked her to change the characters in her newly published second novel,
"The Great Betrayal," from white to black or race-neutral.

In an attempt to lure black readers, the proposed cover art featured an
African-American couple, the suit adds. Ms. Aldred says she objected because she
thought the suggestions would deprive her of the opportunity to attract white
readers. In her filing, Ms. Aldred says the publisher eventually backed down --
the final cover features an unmade bed -- but she still sued, alleging racial
discrimination. "In commercial fiction I'm finding that there is a huge
expectation that because you are black, you should know the climate and the
boundaries, and adhere to them," says Ms. Aldred.

Penguin says it is contesting the allegations, saying in a written
statement that "our commitment to writers from all backgrounds is evident in the
quality and diversity of our (publishing) list." The company declines to make
further comment. Barnes & Noble is bucking the rest of the industry. The
chain offers an African-American studies department, but its black fiction is
shelved alphabetically by author within various genres. Mary Ellen Keating, a
spokeswoman for the retailer, says it wants to expose "all titles to all

The only exceptions are stores in Atlanta and Oakland, which offer
stand-alone displays of African-American authors because of the substantial
black populations in those cities. At Borders, whose superstores carry an
average of 90,000 titles, executives say the African-American sections are a
convenience for readers. Merchants and publishers say such sections also
brighten the chances for new, undiscovered writers.

There are no publicly available sales numbers to determine which approach works best. Tananarive Due, who writes supernatural suspense tales, says that when she started out in 1995, she was embraced by black booksellers. Her book tour was almost exclusively in black stores. "There is nothing worse than the release of a book without an audience," she says. "Frankly I'm glad my books were launched as they were.

The African-American readership has been my rock and given me the
opportunity to expand." That support has been crucial for writers such as the
recently married Mr. Massey, who lives in Union City, Ga., a 25-minute drive
south of downtown Atlanta. From writing books "I made close to six figures in
2005, which was my best year so far," he says.

This year he expects to generate roughly the same amount. He has sold the film rights to his second novel to a film unit affiliated with his publisher, Kensington Publishing Corp. in New York. Mr. Massey nonetheless worries he's being shortchanged by being shelved in African-American departments. "Most nonblack readers aren't going to the African-American section," he says. His goal, he says, is to compete with Dean Koontz and Stephen King.

Judging a Book

Books written by black authors are often designed to appeal specifically to
black consumers.

Top five best-selling fiction titles by black authors in November:

I Say a Little Prayer, By E. Lynn Harris

When Somebody Loves You Back, by Mary B. Morrison

What They Want, by Omar Tyree

Satin Nights, by Karen E. Quinones Miller

God Don't Play, by Mary Monroe

Source: Essence Magazine

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Wet, Gray, Boring Day!

So it's another wet, cold, gray day here in NYC. We've been infiltrated by KFC-Taco Bell loving rats...and what else is new?

I got this in my email and it seems pretty cool:

We invite you to experience the brilliant imagery of Mi Puerto Rico: Master Painters of the Island, 1780-1952, now through April 15th at The Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey.

It's the first major art exhibition in the continental United States devoted to Puerto Rico's three greatest masters: Jose Campeche, Francisco Oller and Miguel Pou. Their paintings offer an extraordinary glimpse into the rich artistic heritage of this Commonwealth of the United States.
Mi Puerto Rico: Master Painters of the Island, 1780-1952 is on view through April 15th at The Newark Museum, where you can enjoy 80 galleries of inspiration and exploration. Get more information about The Newark Museum by going online to The Newark Museum.


And here is an interesting article about the Oscars & all the Latino nominees:

Racism lingers in Hollywood

BY KEVIN ROSS, Guest Columnist

LA Daily News

IN 1996, I lamented the dearth of minorities, particularly African-Americans, in the movie industry. This was obviously pre-Forest Whitaker's winning portrayal of Idi Amin in "The Last King of Scotland." It was a decade prior to Halle Berry's historic nod, or Jennifer Hudson's much-deserved Oscar for her supreme, show-stopping performance in "Dreamgirls." It was two lifetimes before rap artists 360 Mafia made pimpin' a little easier.

Of the 166 Academy Award nominees that year, only one was African-American. Sure, Oscar-winner Whoopi Goldberg presided over the festivities, with Quincy Jones serving as the show's co-producer. The disturbing message sent in 1996, however, was as clear as the image of separate water fountains, of fire hoses, police attack dogs or treating segments of society as if they were invisible. The message was: Whites only.

What a difference a decade can make!

This year's 79th annual awards show was the most globally diverse in the history of the Academy.

Sunday's international broadcast showcased 20 outstanding nominees in the acting categories. Of them, five were of African descent. Overall, blacks fared well, receiving a total of eight nominations and three wins.

Latino filmmakers brought their A-game as well, garnering 16 nominations and four wins, three for Guillermo Del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth" and one for Gustavo Santaolalla in the best music score category for "Babel."

With an acting nomination for a descendant of Japan and a best-short-documentary win for Chinese director Ruby Yang, Asians didn't go home empty-handed, either.
But my favorite part of the ceremony - aside from director Michael Mann's film montage showcasing diversity in cinema and Whitaker's touching acceptance speech - came in the opening monologue. That's when quirky host Ellen DeGeneres stated, "If there were no blacks, Jews or gays, there would be no Oscars."

Of course she was being sarcastic - the part about blacks, that is.

Each year, studies are done, statistics are collected, commitments are made and, ultimately, promises are broken. A decade ago, fewer than 150 - or 3.9 percent - of the then-5,043 Academy members who nominate and choose Oscar winners were black. Only 2.3 percent of the Directors Guild membership was black. A mere 2.6 percent of the Writers Guild was African-American. Blacks accounted for less than 2 percent of the 4,000-member union of set decorators and property masters. For other minorities, the numbers were equally disgraceful.
In 2007, those stats really haven't budged much.

You would think liberal Hollywood would have recognized by now that mining for greater minority participation in front of and behind the camera could dramatically increase its bottom line. A highly sought-after export, entertainment is an American commodity yielding solid returns. Films with a global reach seem like a no-brainer.

The bottom line, however, is that many in the industry - consciously or otherwise - continue to arrogantly shun the gifts minorities have to offer. The result is less potential revenue, fewer jobs, fan stagnation, and more international trepidation about the United States and all that we allegedly stand for.

So while we revel in the awesome splendor of Oscar, we know why everyone is still not invited to the Governor's Ball or Vanity Fair's soiree. And the reason has to do with basic tenets of equality.

Actor Edward James Olmos' assertion that "All of the Oscar-nominated pictures put together give lots of hope to diversity in general, and world cinema in particular," means nothing unless moviemakers come out of preproduction and get the cameras rolling in Africa, Latin America, China and "other" parts of America.

If it's true that Hollywood is a place where money doesn't talk but screams, add my voice to the choir on set shouting at the top of its lungs, "ACTION!"
For me, it always speaks louder than words.

Former Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kevin Ross is a past president of the Organization of Black Screenwriters.

Friday, February 23, 2007

A Beaver Named Jose

A Bronx Beaver!

1st Beaver spotted in NYC in 200 years

NEW YORK - Beavers grace New York City's official seal. But the industrious
rodents have not been seen in the flesh here for as many as 200 years — until
this week.

Biologists videotaped a beaver swimming up the Bronx River on Wednesday.
Its twig-and-mud lodge had been spotted earlier on the river bank, but the tape
confirmed the presence of the animal itself.

"It had to happen because beaver populations are expanding, and their
habitats are shrinking," said Dietland Muller-Schwarze, a beaver expert at the
State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in
Syracuse. "We're probably going to see more of them in the future."

Beavers gnawed out a prominent place in the city's early days as a
European settlement, attracting fur traders to a nascent Manhattan. The animal
appears in the city seal to symbolize a Dutch trading company that factored in
the city's colonial beginnings, according to the city's Web site.

But amid heavy trapping, beavers disappeared from the city in the early
1800s, according to the city Parks & Recreation Department.
The beaver
that has made its way to the Bronx appears to be a male, several feet (a meter)
long and two or three years old, said Patrick Thomas, the mammals curator at the
nearby Bronx Zoo.

Biologists have nicknamed the animal "Jose," as a tribute to U.S. Rep.
Jose Serrano (news, bio, voting
)'s work to revive the river. The Bronx Democrat lined up federal
money for a cleanup.

"But I don't know to what extent I imagined things living in it again,"
he said.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Mediaweek: MMR Studies Most-Read Mags by Race, Ethnicity
By Lucia Moses 2/21/07

Among all adults, People, Better Homes and Gardens and AARP The Magazine are the most-read titles, according to Monroe Mendelsohn Research. But the list gets varied when broken down by race and ethnic group, the firm found.

Among Hispanic adults, National Geographic and Sports Illustrated are more popular than they are with all adults, according to the data from MMR s 2006 Publication Research Satisfaction Survey. MMR asked adults which titles they read in the past six months.

National Geographic and SI ranked fifth and seventh, respectively, among Hispanics versus ninth and 10th among all adults, respectively. And Cosmopolitan and Entertainment Weekly, which didn t make the top 10 for all adults, cracked the list for Hispanics at No. 10 and 9, respectively.


Hispanic Author and TV Personality Ingrid Hoffmann Signs Multi-Year Deal with Food Network

New daytime star to appear at South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami February 23rd-25th
New York, NY--(HISPANIC PR WIRE)--February 21, 2007--Touted for her cuisine with a Hispanic flair, Ingrid Hoffmann is bringing her culinary expertise to the Food Network, signing a multi-year deal to star in her own daytime series set for premiere in third quarter 2007. She will make her first appearance as a Food Network talent at the upcoming Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival in her hometown of Miami, February 23rd-25th.

Ingrid's obsession with food, cooking and style began as a little girl in her homeland of Colombia. Under the influence of her mother, a Cordon Bleu chef, Ingrid discovered her passion for food and entertaining, developing dishes with a Latin twist, which will be the focus of her new yet- to-be-named series. A stylish and accomplished TV personality and author, Ingrid is currently working on her first cookbook for Clarkson Potter/Random House set for release next year.

Bob Tuschman, SVP of Programming and Production for Food Network, said: “Ingrid has a loyal and passionate following in the Hispanic community. Her love of food, flair for easy entertaining, along with her inviting personality is sure to draw a new legion of fans to our air. We are happy to have her join the Food Network family.” In addition to hosting her own cooking and lifestyle show, Delicioso (, in its second season on the Spanish-language Galavision/Univision, Ingrid appears regularly on Univision's Despierta America. She is a frequent food and décor contributor in BuenHogar, the Spanish version of Good HouseKeeping, and publishes a syndicated column in the Rumbo chain of Spanish daily newspapers.

Raised in Colombia, Ingrid moved to Miami where she opened La Capricieuse, a high fashion luxury boutique in Miami's Coconut Grove. In 1993, Ingrid opened Rocca, the first restaurant to feature tabletop cooking on heated lava rocks. Within weeks, Rocca was touted as the hot destination for Miami's movers and shakers. Ingrid also became one of Miami's premier live event planners with a client list that included M&M Mars, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Thomas Maier and While these businesses flourished, Ingrid was approached to host a cooking segment on a Miami area TV show and has continued to entertain as a television personality since.

Mims - This is Why I'm Hot (Long Version)

This is Why I'm Hot

44 Degrees: It's Almost Spring!!!

So for a frozen New Yorker like myself, the "warm" temperature yesterday and today, warm being ~45, has given me Spring fever and renewed hope. It's got me in good spirits.

So yesterday, I'm in the car with my lil' bro, who always keep it real and this song, This is Why I'm Hot, comes on.

I'm loving it, "I'm hot coz I'm fly (fly) You ain't coz you're not."

Now grammar aside, this is such a ghettofabulous and logically delicious statement, that it brings a smile to my face everytime I hear it. One more time...I'm fly & you ain't cause you're not! Sweet!

So earlier this week, I got my imported jeweled eardrops from Elecom, and they're okay as audio accessories however, they (annoyingly) don't stay in my ear. My auditory opening is too small, and they just don't stay in. So they look cute for all of 10 seconds in my ear before falling out. UGHH! What a pain!

Stay fly, mi gente!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Help Children Read, One book Donated per Email

It’s the Cat’s Big 5-0!

Here’s how to celebrate.

• To honor “The Cat in the Hat’s” 50th birthday, send him an e-mail birthday card. For every card the cat gets, Random House will donate a new book to First Book, a nonprofit organization that promotes reading in low-income communities.

Since it was founded in 1992, First Book has distributed more than 40 million books to young readers in 1,300 communities around the country. To send a card, go to

Cards must be received by May 1.

Random House will also donate a new book to First Book for every copy of any Dr. Seuss book it sells before May 1. For more details, go to

Read more here:

Un Poquito de Todo

News via Criticas:

New Literary Award to Honor Spanish-language Literature
By María Elena Cruz — February 15, 2007

Grupo Planeta and Casa de América have announced the formation of a new literary prize, the Premio Iberoamericano Planeta Casa de América de Narrativa. The contest is open to unpublished, Spanish-language works; this year’s deadline is set for March 15. Winners will be announced every year on April 23 in a different Spanish-speaking country; this year’s winners will be revealed in Bogotá, Colombia—named 2007 Book Capital of the World by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The first place winner and finalist will receive US$200,000 and US$50,000, respectively. Submissions will be accepted at all of Planeta’s offices (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Perú, Portugal, Spain, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela).

Casa de América is a Spanish consortium that serves as a forum for ideas and debates concerning cultural, economic, political, scientific, and technological matters of Spain and Latin America.

Latino Literacy Now Announces 9th Latino Book Awards

Nominations for the International Latino Book Awards for books published in 2006 are now open. The results of the 58 categories the award comprises will be announced during BookExpo America 2007, which will take place this June at the Javits Center in New York City. The purpose of this award, organized by Latino Literacy Now, is to recognize the positive contributions made to Latino literature by publishers and writers worldwide. Thanks to the rise in nominations of literary works from different parts of the American continent and Spain, the award’s name was changed in 2006 to International Latino Book Awards. Nominations will be open until March 16. For more information go to

Contest via Academy of American Poets:

In anticipation of National Poetry Month 2007, The Academy of American Poets is looking for America’s biggest poetry fans: people who demonstrate a passion for poetry that goes beyond the usual.

We’ll select America’s biggest poetry fans to receive prize packages including poetry books, CDs, t-shirts and tote bags. In addition, selected fans will have their submissions and profiles posted on We're hoping to choose one winner for each of the most popular poets on

Emily Dickinson
Walt Whitman
Langston Hughes
William Carlos Williams
Sylvia Plath
Pablo Neruda
William Shakespeare
Dylan Thomas
E. E. Cummings
Robert Frost
W.H. Auden

You don't see your favorite poet on the list? You can still enter. Write to us about your favorite poet. In addition to those above, we’ll select a fan of one other poet listed on Click here for a full list of eligible poets. (Note: you can’t vote for yourself.)

How to Enter

Email a short essay to by March 15, 2007 describing in 250 words or less why you (or you and a friend—or, if you are a teacher, you and your class) are the number one fan or fans of the poet you have chosen.

We’re looking for the most compelling and creative entries and welcome the use of supporting materials such as photographs or videos after you have submitted your essay. Just mention you would like to submit supporting material in your email and an invitation to post on our or group pages will be emailed to you.


Books to check out:

The Mosaic Virus by Carlos, T. Mock
Article on author of The Virgin of Flames, Chris Abani

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Lesson in Irony: Depression Era Classic Sells for $47,800

First edition of "Grapes of Wrath" sells for $47,800
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - A rare edition of "The Grapes of Wrath," John Steinbeck's epic 1939 tale of Depression-era poverty, sold at auction for $47,800.

A number of other first-edition copies of Steinbeck works were sold Sunday at an auction held by Bonhams & Butterfields. A copy of "Of Mice and Men" sold for $7,768, "East of Eden" for $8,365 and "In Dubious Battle" for $11,353.

The books were owned by the author's sister, Elizabeth Steinbeck Ainsworth, who died in 1992. The Steinbeck family chose to sell the books to finance renovation of a Pacific Grove, Calif., bungalow where Steinbeck wrote some of his books, said Catherine Williamson, director of fine books and manuscripts for Bonhams.

The collection sold for more than $200,000.

Five of the Steinbeck titles were bought by Jim Dourgarian, a Bay Area antiquarian bookseller who specializes in Steinbeck's work. His purchases included "Cup of Gold," which he called a relative bargain at $21,510.

"The fact that this was probably the last close family copy that is not in an institution made it highly desirable," Dourgarian said. He said it also is valuable because Steinbeck inscribed it, and it is wrapped in a brightly colored dust jacket showing a buccaneer.

Bonhams believes the $47,800 price for the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Grapes of Wrath" is the world record for an at-auction sale for a Steinbeck novel, Williamson said.

I've always loved this book and have always felt inspired to collect antique books.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Ever Stay in Bed All Day Long?

Every now and then, I like to indulge myself in a day of relaxation, by sleeping in late, not answering the phone or even charging my cell, surrounding myself with my laptop, my books and ignoring the outside world. Sometimes I don't even bathe, comb my hair or brush my teeth.

The next day, I radiate. Maybe it has to do with a full day's rest or just a well fed spirit, I don't know but it works wonder even if it is a little lonely at the end of the day.

Some cool new books and other stuff to check out, mi gente:

The Virgin of Flames by Chris Abani

Still Water Saints: A Novel by Alex Espinoza

Puerto Rican Poetry: A Selection from Aboriginal to Contemporary Times by Roberto Marquez

Hecho en Tejas: An Anthology of Texas Mexican Literature by Dagoberto Gilb

The Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud by Julia Navarro and Andrew

Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa (Writing in Latinidad) by Rigoberto Gonzalez

I found this cool article on "Reinas de la Cocina" featuring one of my sister favorite TV Chef, Daisy from Daisy Cooks, amognst these others:

WHO: Isabel Cruz
ORIGINS: Puerto Rican raised in L.A.
LATEST PROJECT: The book "Isabel's Cantina" WEB SITE:

WHO: Zarela Martínez

ORIGINS: Chihuahua, Mexico
LATEST PROJECT: Zarela Casa, her housewares line at Wal-Mart WEB SITE:

WHO: Daisy Martínez

ORIGINS: Puerto Rican raised in Brooklyn

WHO: Ingrid Hoffmann
ORIGINS: Colombia

LATEST PROJECT: "Delicioso" on Galavision/Univision WEB SITE:

You can read the article here:

I also want to check this out, it's here in NYC and looks captivating:

From the ad:

BE daring.

BE bold.

And BE the first to experience the new show from Mayumana, the world-renowned performance troupe that ignites your senses with an intoxicating display of color, texture, sound and motion.

Now, this internationally acclaimed group—which has performed for millions worldwide—debuts the brand new, eye-popping creation BE, an explosive 90-minute production that takes you on a thrilling journey and never lets go.

Don’t miss your chance to see them live and BE a part of this exuberant performance.

Watch here: video


1. BY PHONE: Call the Union Square Box Office at 212-505-0700 or at 212-307-4100 and use code PBIL1

2. ONLINE: Visit and use code PBIL1

3. VISIT: Bring this page to the Union Square Theatre Box Office, 100 E. 17th Street @ Park Avenue South (box office opens Feb 19)

For group orders of 8 or more, call Showtix at 800-677-1164

Tuesday-Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 7pm & 10pm; Sunday at 3pm & 7pm

Union Square Theatre
100 East 17th Street

*Conditions: Offer is subject to availability and prior sale; not valid on prior purchases; cannot be combined with other discounts or promotions. Not valid 3/13, additional blackout dates may apply. Limit six (6) tickets per order. No refunds or exchanges. Telephone and Internet orders are subject to standard service fees. Offer is valid for all performances through March 23 but may be revoked at any time. $39 offer for all performances except Sunday at 7pm (Reg. price $60). $35 offer for Sunday 7pm performances (Reg. price $40).

Monday, February 12, 2007


Announced today:

LATINA POET'S FESTIVAL 2007 --Celebration of its 40th Anniversary--
For the first time in its 40 year history, the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre will be presenting twelve of the hottest, cutting edge Latina poets and performers in an exciting festival at its permanent theater, 304 West 47th Street, in the heart of Broadway, beginning Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 8 p.m.

SANDRA MARÍA ESTEVES, the revered Puerto Rican poet often referred to as the ‘Godmother of Nuyorican Letters’, MARIPOSA, one of the most dynamic, young poets of the New York Latino scene, as well as all time favorites LA BRUJA, the powerhouse performer PATTY DUKES, the queen of the college poetry circuit LINDA NIEVES-POWELL, and the fiery PRISIONERA have joined the roster of performers who will be participating for 8 performances at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre. Adding their talent to this special theatrical event will be veterans such as CARMEN D. LUCCA, DRA. MIRNA NIEVES and the popular RHINA VÁLENTIN, along with the seasoned, award winning poets CARMEN VALLE and LOURDES VAZQUEZ.

MIRIAM COLÓN VALLE, Founder of the theater, will be the Director and Producer, JACK LANDRON will co-produce, SOLEDAD ROMERO will be Literary Advisor, and MIRIAM CRUZ will interpret some of their works.

Throughout the years, the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater has established a consistent record as a professional, bilingual theater company which has added diversity and quality productions to the New York theatrical landscape. The company, founded by the Puerto Rican actress Miriam Colón, has been an Actors Equity company since 1967, and has become a mecca for Hispanic and mainstream audiences who enjoy high quality, professional bilingual productions.
Opening night for the LATINA POETS FESTIVAL 2007 will be on Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 8:00 p.m. Performances also on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. Sunday performances will be at 3:00 p.m. only. This limited engagement production will run only till Sunday, March 18 at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, 304 West 47th Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues. Admission is $20 or $15 for properly identified students or senior citizens. TDF is OK. Reservations: 212-354-1293.

Purchase tickets at Click on Puerto Rican Traveling Theater.

The Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre’s Mainstage presentations are possible thanks to the generosity of the New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Jr., Shubert Foundation, National Endowmend for the Arts, American Express, American Theatre Wing, Carnegie Corporation of New York, TIAA-CREF, Edith C. Blum Foundation, New York City Council, Hispanic Federation, JPMorgan Chase, and individual supporters. The Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre is grateful to their Media Sponsor: Urban Latino Magazine.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Latino Films this Weekend

In the Pit aka En el hoyo


Literally and existentially down and dirty, “In the Pit” is an absorbing documentary about work and the transformation of men into laborers. Directed and shot with sensitive attention to detail by Juan Carlos Rulfo, the film takes us into a world apart, populated by members of the construction crew building the second deck of the Periférico beltway in Mexico City. For the city’s inhabitants, each of whom apparently spend an estimated 1,485 hours a year commuting, and mostly on public transportation, the construction is at once a nuisance and a possible solution.

For the most part, like construction sites everywhere, it is also hidden in plain sight. Mr. Rulfo takes a distinctly personal approach to his subject, eschewing issues of public policy, environmental impact or even much by way of factual information or history about the beltway. — Manohla Dargis , The New York Times


East of Havana


So much of American pop thrives on a bratty facsimile of courage that when you see the real deal, it's a revelation. "East of Havana" is the real deal. Directed by Jauretsi Saizarbitoria and Emilia Menocal, it's a nonfiction feature about young Cuban rappers exercising the artist's prerogative to tell the truth in a country that muzzles free speech.

Although the film is set in 2004 during the weeklong run-up to the International Festival of Rap Cubano and in the shadow of Hurricane Charley, there's no phony urgency. The filmmakers are mainly interested in hearing the music and learning about the musicians' compelling personal stories. — Matt Zoller Seitz, The New York Times

NYC Free Event: Latino Lit (Tomorrow)

WHAT: Guest speaker, Marcela Landres will discuss
"Latino Literature: Trends vs. Tradition" during which she will provide an overview of Latino publishing in the U.S. followed by a Q&A.

* Sponsored by the NYC Latina Writers Group,

WHEN: Friday, February 9, 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

WHERE: Hue-Man Bookstore & Café, 2319 Frederick Douglass Boulevard,
Between 124th and 125th Streets, New York, NY

QUESTIONS: Contact Alicia Anabel at

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Room with a View

Room with a View
Room with a View,
originally uploaded by Literanista.
It's absolutely frigid weather in NYC. Last night I had to wait for the bus about 15 minutes, because I missed one when I got to the stop. I swear I felt the chilly wind in between every seam in my coat and through the two layers of clothing I had on. Ughh, I hate winter!

New Book: A Heart So White

From Boldtype:

The novel is, very simply, about how Juan comes to know the secret behind his aunt's suicide, and his father's role in it.”


When Javier Marías finally wins the Nobel Prize for Literature — he's perennially considered to be on the shortlist — he'll have no need to thank American readers. His international renown as a novelist for the ages rivals that of Haruki Murakami, yet despite plenty of critical attention here, Marías gets none of the love that his peer enjoys at US bookstores.

Maybe he needs some talking cats. Whereas Murakami's novels spiral outward from seemingly mundane beginnings to increasingly surreal tableaux, Marías' turn discursively inward — first, into familiar realities constructed primarily by metaphysics and language, and only second by the actions of his characters. Translation: a Marías novel is generally a slow read.

That said, A Heart So White — perhaps the best introduction to Marías' oeuvre — starts with a bang. Juan, our narrator, describes the suicide of his father's second wife, who inexplicably shot herself in the chest while her family ate lunch in the next room. Her widowed husband went on to marry her sister, Juan's mother, but the story of "the woman who would have been yet never could have been my Aunt Teresa" continues to haunt Juan, even after his own marriage. The rest of the novel is, very simply, about how Juan comes to know the secret behind his aunt's suicide, and his father's role in it.

The truth, when it comes, is astonishing not only because we could never have foreseen it, but also because it makes clear that the novel's narrator, whose method can initially seem rather aimless and inscrutable, very much has a purpose all along. Juan tells a story about a big secret by talking about little ones, limning all the different parts of ourselves that we can never explain to one another. Marías' insights into the human experience are brilliant throughout, but the depths of his artistry can't be plumbed without patience and faith on our part. Marías asks a lot of readers, but the five million who are happy to oblige him can't all be wrong.

- Chris Parris-Lamb

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

On the Down Low: Say "Nerd"

Okay, so maybe I'm a geek, but I'm a cute geek so there you go.
I spotted these earphones and let just say they're music to my ears, or would that be eyes?

Elecom, a Japanese tech-peripherals manufacturer, have just released new headphones specially indicated for girls by the name of "Ear Drops". These headphones offer from 104 to 110dB and come in pink, black or white

Friday, February 02, 2007

I, Rigoberta Menchu or Is it we?

Guatemalan Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu weighs run
for presidency

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) -- Rigoberta Menchu, who won the 1992 Nobel Peace
Prize, said some political leaders are urging her to run in Guatemala's
September presidential elections, but she said she would have to weigh the

If elected, Menchu would become the second Nobel laureate serving as
president in Central America. Oscar Arias, who won the Nobel Peace Price in 1997
for helping broker an end to Central America's civil wars, took office as Costa
Rica's president in May.

"I owe my loyalty to a series of Mayan leaders, and we would have to
see what these parties have in store for Mayan people," Menchu said, referring
to political parties that have reportedly offered to back a potential
presidential bid.

The newly formed Encounter for Guatemala party recently announced it
was considering backing her for president; Menchu, a proponent of Indian rights,
did not say which other parties may have approached her.

"We would have to sit down" and consider such proposals, but "we're not
in any rush" to so, she said. She has mentioned several times that she would not
rule out a run for the presidency, and has also held out the possibility of
forming an Indian party with a view to the 2011 elections.

Menchu made the comments following a press conference in which she
urged the government to arrest former officials wanted in Spain for a 1980 fire
at the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala City that killed Menchu's father and 36

The fire occurred during Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war, in which
200,000, mostly Mayan Indians, were killed or disappeared.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Book Mapped: Notable Locales Mentioned in Books

New cool thing from Google:

Our team has begun to animate the static information found in books by
organizing a sample of locations from them on an interactive Google Map, with
snippets of text from the book, and links to the actual pages where the
locations are mentioned. When our automatic techniques determine that there are
a good number of quality locations from a book to show you, you'll find a map on
the "About this book" page.

Go Red! Wear Red Tomorrow

Don't forget to wear red tomorrow!

From the American Heart Association site:

Why You Should Participate

Too few people
realize that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women (and men), but the good
news is heart disease largely can be prevented. Spreading the Go Red For Women
message Love Your Heart raises awareness of heart disease and empowers women to
reduce their risk.
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