Friday, July 31, 2009

The Dream

NPR's Audience Picks: 100 Best Beach Books Ever

NPR ’s asked their audience to name their favorite beach reads. Almost 16,000 people particpated and entered 136,000 votes. From the votes, NPR picked the top 100.

Here's a selection of the top 100:

#27. Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel

#35. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

#56. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The No.1 demographic of HS drop-outs are Latino women

Sometimes the ugly truth needs to be said outloud:

America Ferrara called on fellow Latina women to combat their high school drop-out rate. The Ugly Betty star, 25, made the call during a commencement speech she gave at Kaplan University in Chicago.

"The No.1 demographic of high school drop-outs are Latino women. I know there are economic factors why young Latinos are so under-educated, but it also starts with what we place importance on as a culture." She continued, "We have to empower the next generation to accept education as a way up, and I believe you have to start with the women so they can pass it on to their kids," she added.

Ferrara applauded some 2,500 Kaplan graduates on their achievement. "I can relate to how hard it is to continue to make education an important part of my life while balancing my career," said Ferrara. Ferrara is working toward a bachelor's degree at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, a private college.


Tonight! Latinos in Social Media #LATISM Twitter Party

Mi gente, represent! Here's the invite:

Dear Friends,

Our 2nd #LatISM party will take place this Thursday, July 30th, from 9:00 to 10:00 pm EST.

The point of #LatISM is to help its members promote their businesses, blogs and Social Media campaigns. Also to provide a common platform that will place the member's profile in front of large and small companies as well as non-profit organizations that target the Latino market.

All leading up to the first ever Latinos in Social Media Heritage Tour; more info here:

We will connect, network, promote, make noise, win more prizes and the most important: HAVE FUN! the only way Latino(a)s know how to party.

This week's prizes are:

1) a $50 Gift Card from
2) an iPod Shuffle from
3) a Sterling Silver Emerald Bracelet from Diamond International
4) a JetFlash USB Flash Drive - 16 GB from

Remember to follow the organizers:

To make it easier to find you, please tweet:“I’m going to the #LatISM party on Thursday at 9:00 pm EST. Come join the Latinos in Social Media

This way, we can all look for the hashtag #LatISM and follow all the participants while we also promote the Party and help get trending.

If this is your first Twitter Party, a great way to follow will be using a TwitterChat application like:

Finally, remember to invite all your friends in Twitter. Every one's welcome.

Puerto Rico, circa 1941

Esmeralda Santiago's facebook status recently reminded me of the great treasure of photographs accessible online at Library of Congress, taken by documented photographer, Jack Delano for the Farm Security Administration, Washington D.C. and Office of War Information.

What is rather heart wrenching to me is that this is the Puerto Rico my mother knew and lived. She was born in 1942 and Puerto Rico, like any other place has changed. She has changed. Unfortunately, many of mother's photographs were lost before she ever came to the mainland. I'm not sure if she lost her suitcase or it was stolen but it carried all of her precious pictures.

Take a trip back in time and place with me...

Aibonito, Puerto Rico. Children at school (Jan. 1942)

Slum area in Ponce, Puerto Rico - Dec. 1941 (my mother's hometown, although she lived on a farm, a year before she was born)

Ponce, Puerto Rico. Family living in the slum area (Dec. 1942)

The pictures while a little bit disturbing (why were the subjects documented by someone from the office of war information?) to me, the value to someone whose only memories of that time come from images like this is priceless.

If you would like to peruse for yourself, check them out at

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Now that's an eReader! or at Least a Vision

Editis French publishing group, produced this short film about a future possible or probable ... the book. This is not to show the vision of the group on the future market of publishing, but rather to initiate a discussion on the different business models and possible future features of playback devices that are currently on the market. The uses that we imagine are numerous and are well within reach.

What a vision it is - you don't have to understand French to capture the gist of the film (I only caught rudimentary phrases) but the ereader is quite magnifique! The video is a tad long but very cool.

Now here's the sad part, it's 2 and 1/2 years old. Where's this version now?

Interesting Stats on Books, the Web & Book Buyers

Bowker published a Consumer-Focused Research Report for Book Industry, "2008 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Report."

In it they state:

  • Generation X consumers buy more books online than any other demographic group, with 30% of them buying their books through the Internet.

  • 21% of book buyers said they became aware of a book through some sort of online promotion or ad.

  • Women made the majority of the purchases in the paperback, hardcover and audio-book segments, but men accounted for 55% of e-book purchases.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Elephant’s Journey by José Saramago Coming in 2010

News Via

Portugal's beloved Nobel Literature laureate Jose Saramago announced the completion of his latest work "The Elephant's Journey", based on the real-life epic journey of an Indian elephant named Solomon who travelled from Lisbon to Vienna in the 16th century last year. Now comes the report that the translated version is slated for fall 2010.

"The author describes the book as "a story rather than a novel," and opens with the line: "However incongruous it may seem..."

Saramago has been captivated by the tale for last ten years, ever since he made a visit to Austria and went to eat by chance in a Salzburg restaurant called The Elephant, the author says in a long email interview published in the Spanish press.

The Elephant's Journey is filled with characters, some of them real historical figures, others anonymous fictional creations: "they are people the members of this travelling caravan encounter on their journey, and with whom they share perplexities, efforts and the harmonious joy of a roof over their heads"."

Blurb via >http://The UK Independent

I can't wait to read it.

Harlem Book Fair 2009 Slideshow

Via Harlem World

Request a 08-09 NYC Reading Hot Spot Map

Inspired by the goals of BookUpNYC, the Reading Hot Spots Map was created to provide young people and their families with the locations of New York City bookstores, libraries and literary organizations where they can browse, read, and spend time with books, free of charge.

To request copies of the Reading Hot Spots Map, email Rebecca Keith at

Monday, July 27, 2009

Texas Monthly Talks with Novelist Oscar Casares

Oscar Casares, latest novel: Amigoland debuts in August.

Novelist Oscar Casares from Texas Monthly Talks on Vimeo.

"Oscar Casares is a Texas-born writer who earned wide acclaim with his first collection of short stories, Brownsville, which was published in 2003. He was raised in Brownsville and is a lifelong resident of Texas. He currently teaches at The University of Texas at Austin.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Repetends from the Web

- Ms. Latina takes a stroll down NYC's Library Walk

- CNN will air a two-part documentary on "Latinos in America" in October

- bought rival shoe seller Zappos for $928 million

- An interview with Poet Amira Baraka at the Harlem Book Fair

- Blaming the victim: Parents of 8-year old rape victim disown her

- Hard hitters: Marc Anthony joins Gloria and Emilio Estefan as minority stake holders of the Miami Dolphins

- Big Pun Documentary coming in September

- Belinda Acosta author of Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz: A Quinceañera Club Novel (Quinceanera Club), talks to about her mother-daughter story centered around a quinceañera.

- Shakira Scoops on She Wolf and Turns Red at Talk of Twilight

- More Blacks and Latinos on Wireless Web


Welcome Guest Blogger: Laurie Sandell

Cover of "The Impostor's Daughter: A True...
Cover of The Impostor's Daughter: A True Memoir
Hi Literanista readers,

Thanks so much for inviting me to guest blog.

My name is Laurie Sandell and I'm the author of The Impostor's Daughter: A True Memoir, The story is about growing up with my larger-than-life Argentine father, and slowly coming to realize that everything he'd told my family was a lie.

I think because my father was such a fantastic storyteller, everything he said--no matter how wild the tale--felt like the truth. I felt like the luckiest kid in the world when my father visited my sixth grade class and told them stories about smuggling horses through the jungles of Brazil, and escaping from an Argentine prison and swimming across the River Paranar, and catching a grenade in his helmet and tossing it back to its sender in Vietnam.

When I was in high school, he told me tales of his friendship with Pope John Paul II, and how he'd parachuted into the jungle with General Westmoreland, and had written position papers for Henry Kissinger. And again, I was in awe.

Years later, when I became a celebrity interviewer for Glamour magazine--sitting across from the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, and J. Lo, and Halle Berry--I felt the same feeling of excitement I'd felt in the presence of my "original celebrity," my father. So when it all fell apart and I realized his stories were nothing more than that--stories--I had to rebuild my own sense of identity from scratch.

It's interesting, when you have an immigrant parent, because identity is already such a strong and yet malleable thing: My father took enormous pride in his American citizenship, yet he was never really "of" America. He retained the strong accent of his youth.

He was brilliant, yet unable to rise through the ranks professionally (or legally). And yet no matter the adversity he faced, he felt, staunchly, that he was living in the greatest country in the world, where anything was possible. I sometimes reflect on the fact that much of the success I've had comes from lessons I've learned from my father--some directly, some in spite of what he taught me.

I hope you enjoy the book, and feel free to e-mail me with any comments or questions--I'd love to hear your feedback!

All the best,


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Does it Come with a Happy Ending?

I really dislike cliffhangers. I don't like them in movies and I definitely dislike them in books. It's rather infuriating to be completely absorbed in a storyline and then come to a full stop with no closure and then not knowing what comes next until a year or so later.

I suppose that sort of passionate reaction is key. It's rather hard to feel an emotion that strong about something you don't care about so job well done. But isn't it better to leave them wanting more but offer some sort of closure at the same time?

I mean most beloved classics (at least not any that I can think of) don't end in cliffhangers, even ones with follow ups. They usually are wrapped up neatly at the end. And, while a happy ending isn't always a necessary to make for a good book, at least those that end neatly, with no holes in the story, make for a content reader.

Do you agree? Do you find value in cliffhangers?

Waiting for Snow in Havana: Part Deux

Those of you who loved the 2003 National Book Award Winner, Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy by Carlos Eire, will be happy to note that the follow up to his memoir is due out next year. Those of you who haven't read it yet, have a chance to do so now.

Noted religion scholar Carlos Eire's idyllic and privileged childhood in Havana came to an end in the wake of Castro's revolution. In this memoir, he reveals an exotic, magical Cuba and an eccentric family: his father - a municipal judge and art collector - believed that in a past life he had been King Louis XVI.

In 1962, Carlos Eire's world changed forever when he and his brother were among the 14,000 children airlifted off the island, their parents left behind. In chronicling his life before and after his arrival in America, Mr. Eire's personal story is also a meditation on loss and suffering, redemption and rebirth.

About Carlos Eire:

In 1962, at the age of eleven, Carlos Eire was one of 14,000 unaccompanied children airlifted out of Cuba by Operation Pedro Pan to the United States. His life until then is the subject of the 2003 National Book Award winner WAITING FOR SNOW IN HAVANA: Confessions of a Cuban Boy -- a wry, heartbreaking, beautiful memoir of growing up in a privileged Havana household -- and of being exiled from his own childhood by the Cuban revolution.

After arriving in the United States with his brother, Carlos Eire spent over three years in a series of foster homes in Florida and Illinois. His mother eventually joined him in Chicago, despite several obstacles placed in her way by the Cuban government. His father who died in 1976, never left Cuba.

In Chicago, Carlos worked full-time as a dishwasher, grocery clerk and factory assembler while attending high school and college. He chose a scholarly career and earned a Ph.D. at Yale University in 1979. He has taught at St. John's University in Minnesota and the University of Virginia, resided for two years at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and carried out research in Europe as a Fulbright Fellow.

CARLOS EIRE is a historian of late medieval and early modern Europe. He is the T. Lawrason Riggs Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale University.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Growing Up with an Argentinian Dad

Cover of "The Impostor's Daughter: A True...
Cover of The Impostor's Daughter: A True Memoir
In The Impostor's Daughter: A True Memoir by Laurie Sandell, she"recounts the gradual realization that her charming, larger-than-life Argentine father, bragging of war metals, degrees from prestigious universities and acquaintances with famous people, had lied egregiously to his family about his past and accomplishments." (via Publishers Weekly)

Composed as stunning graphic novel by Laurie Sandell, who is a journalist and published cartoonist, it is guaranteed to both delight you and mesmerize you.

Laurie Sandell grew up in Stockton, California, then lived in upstate New York, and has traveled the world: Jerusalem, Tokyo, Egypt, Jordan, backpacked all over Europe and then ended up going full circle back to Buenos Aires.

She now lives in Brooklyn and is a contributing editor at Glamour Magazine.

She will guest post on Literanista on Sunday!

Paraiso Travel Debut

Depicting the horrors of illegally crossing the U.S. border so starkly that even Lou Dobbs might shed a tear, Paraíso Travel plays its immigrant song with only one chord.

Based on a 2001 novel by Jorge Franco Ramos, who co-wrote the screenplay, Simon Brand’s second film tidily categorizes most of its women characters as whores or mothers, and sometimes both.

Teen temptress Reina (Angelica Blandon) convinces boyfriend Marlon (Aldemar Correa) to leave his comfortable life in Medellín, Colombia, and make the trek with her to New York, where he’ll be rewarded with her virginity.

They’re separated in Brooklyn; Marlon ends up in Jackson Heights—desperate to be reunited with his queen as he cleans urinals—has his manhood insulted by strippers from back home, and shares a squat with John Leguizamo (who also co-produced) as a stuttering s/m impresario.

No cliché about journeying or ironic use of “paradise” goes unused; when Marlon arrives in Atlanta for his rain-soaked cathartic moment, the pitch of the melodrama is so deafeningly high that only employees at nearby Tyler Perry Studios could possibly hear it.

Those who make it to the finale will be rewarded with a gorgeous end-credit sequence. Everything else is paraíso lost.


The film has won 14 national and international awards, including several audience awards at film fests in Latin America and Spain and the Jury Award at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.

A Happy Marriage by Rafael Yglesias

Rafael Yglesias, a native son of Manhattan’s Washington Heights , a novelist and screenwriter who sold his first novel at the tender age of 16, brings us A Happy Marriage: A Novel this month. The novel is "a fictionalized account of his nearly thirty-year marriage to Margaret Jastrow, who died of cancer in 2004."

Reviewed in Terminal Bliss via NYTimes.comis on summer lists everywhere. Publishers Weekly notes, it is a “devastatingly raw appraisal of a nearly 30-year marriage...heart-wrenching.”

Manny Vega: The Man Behind the Mosaics

If you have ever strolled through Spanish Harlem or been to the 110th Street & Lexington Avenue train station, you've probably seen the art of Manny Vega. For those of you not familiar with his work (he is currently retouching a famous mural that was recently vandalized) last year the had a great article with a related interactive piece on him. Definitely, worth checking out.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cuchifrito Rotisserie Chicken Recipe

English: Rotisserie Chicken (pollo rostizado i...
Rotisserie Chicken (pollo rostizado in Mexico) cooking at a take-out shop in the Obrera neighborhood of Mexico City. (Photo: Wikipedia)
If you ever wondered how exactly the rotisserie chicken from the cuchifrito spot ends up tasting so sweet and tasty and beautifully toasted - here's the recipe:

1/2 tb garlic powder
1 tb plus
1 ts ground cumin
4 tb white vinegar
2 1/2 tb paprika
2 ts freshly ground black pepper
3 tb white wine
3 tb soya or canola oil
3/4 ts salt
1 chicken, 3-4 pound
1 lemon, juice of,
mixed with:1 qt cold water

In medium-size bowl, mix first eight ingredients. Wash the chickens thoroughly with lemon water and remove excess fat from inside chickens. With a large carving fork, poke deep holes all over chicken, including under wings.

Rub the marinade thoroughly inside and outside the chicken. Seal the chicken in a large plastic bag and marinate for at least 2 hours (but preferably up to 24 hours) in refrigerator. Remove chicken from bag and dilute marinade left behind in bag with a tablespoon of water.

Place the chicken on a rotisserie spit, and roast at medium heat for 45 to 55 minutes. If broiling, cut chicken in half lengthwise and broil for 30 to 40 minutes, basting with marinade every 10 minutes.

Update: I first tried this with some chicken legs and I didn't baste them. They came out very pale and a bit bland. The next time I tried it on an oven roaster and I seasoned the chicken a bit more with adobo, garlic and herbs and I basted every 30 minutes. It came out much better.

Dracula: In the Heights

Begins tonight!
Presented by Moose Hall Theatre (MHTC)

Thursday, July 23 @ 7:30 pm

Friday, July 24 @ 7:30 pm

Saturday, July 25 @ 7:30 pm

Wednesday, July 29 @ 7:30 pm

Thursday, July 30 @ 7:30 pm

Friday, July 31 @ 7:30 pm


Inwood Hill Park, New York, NY


produced and directed by Ted Minos presented by Moose Hall Theatre Company. When out with the Count, drink responsibly. Dracula is a Gothic horror tale, adapted for stage from the novel by Bram Stoker. Some scenes may not be suitable for young children. Parental discretion advised.


Entrances at 218th Street & Indian Road and also Isham Street and Seaman Avenue, in northernmost Manhattan. Suggestion: bring a blanket and/or back-rest

The Silver Lining in the Basement

Cover of "Cherries in Winter: My Family's...
Cover via Amazon
"Time is the most valuable commodity. Take stock" says Suzan Colón, a former O: The Oprah Magazine senior editor (she is still a contributing editor for O) who is a Latina of mixed Irish and Puerto Rican descent.

Speaking to Galleycat's Ron Hogan, she shares her experience of writing a memoir after being laid off in 2008.

Cherries in Winter: My Family's Recipe for Hope in Hard Times by Suzan Colon is due out in November, and it sounds like a rather lovely tale of connecting with family and history through food.

When Suzan Colón was laid off from her dream job at a magazine during the economic downturn of 2008, she needed to cut her budget way, way back, and that meant home cooking. Her mother suggested, “Why don’t you look in Nana’s recipe folder?”

In the basement, Suzan found the tattered treasure, full of handwritten and meticulously typed recipes, peppered with her grandmother Matilda’s commentary in the margins. Reading it, Suzan realized she had found something more than a collection of recipes—she had found the key to her family’s survival through hard times.

Suzan began re-creating Matilda’s “sturdy food” recipes for baked pork chops and beef stew, and Aunt Nettie’s clam chowder made with clams dug up by Suzan’s grandfather Charlie in Long Island Sound. And she began uncovering the stories of her resilient family’s past.

Taking inspiration from stylish, indomitable Matilda, who was the sole support of her family as a teenager during the Great Depression (and who always answered “How are you?” with “Fabulous, never better!”), and from dashing, twice-widowed Charlie, Suzan starts to approach her own crisis with a sense of wonder and gratitude. It turns out that the gift to survive and thrive through hard times had been bred in her bones all along.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

Sometimes I am just an overgrown kid, join me in reliving my childhood with this preview of the new film that looks absolutely fantastic:

Fun Facts:

The book has never been out of print.

It is also sometimes thought as a reference to psychoactive drugs.

In 1931, the book was banned in Hunan, China because "animals should not use human language" and it "put animals and human beings on the same level."

Among its first avid readers were Queen Victoria and the young Oscar Wilde.


Alice: What is the use of a book, without pictures or conversations?

"We're all mad here." -Cheshire Cat

"Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop." -The King

Shange's 'For Colored Girls' Goes to Broadway & Movies

"For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf by Ntozake Shange still has staying power. It's headed to Broadway and is under contract for a film next season (with Tyler Perry). " via

Jasmine Guy and Nicole Ari Parker about their work on the play that includes Robin Givens:

I have yet to meet a female poet or writer or yet any writer of any gender who has not been inspired by this classic collection of poems.

The Life and Work of Piri Thomas

Poet Piri Thomas, author of Down These Mean Streets, uses creative expression to confront poverty, racism, violence and isolation.

Visit Piri

Down These Mean Streets:

Thirty years ago Piri Thomas made literary history with this lacerating, lyrical memoir of his coming of age on the streets of Spanish Harlem. Here was the testament of a born outsider: a Puerto Rican in English-speaking America; a dark-skinned morenito in a family that refused to acknowledge its African blood.

Here was an unsparing document of Thomas's plunge into the deadly consolations of drugs, street fighting, and armed robbery--a descent that ended when the twenty-two-year-old Piri was sent to prison for shooting a cop.

As he recounts the journey that took him from adolescence in El Barrio to a lock-up in Sing Sing to the freedom that comes of self-acceptance, faith, and inner confidence, Piri Thomas gives us a book that is as exultant as it is harrowing and whose every page bears the irrepressible rhythm of its author's voice.

Thirty years after its first appearance, this classic of manhood, marginalization, survival, and transcendence is available in an anniversary edition with a new Introduction by the author.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

On writing

Of course, these apply to blogging as well...

Write in the kitchen, lock yourself up in the bathroom. Write on the bus or the welfare line, on the job or during meals. ---Gloria Anzaldua [don't blog from work - not a good idea! (exception being corporate blogs)]

Writing is a political instrument. --- James Baldwin

Writing keeps me from believing everything I read. ---- Gloria Steinem

Your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one. ---- John Steinbeck

If we had to say what writing is, we would have to define it essentially as an act of courage.
--- Cynthia Ozick

I read about writers who have routines. They write at certain times of the day. I can’t do that. I am always writing—but in my head. ---- Jamaica Kincaid

If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it. ---- Toni Morrison

Monday, July 20, 2009

Teach Yourself to Read Faster

A Guide to Previewing, Skimming and Speed Reading
Free Six-Part Speed Reading Course
Free Speed Reading Test

Beauty Shop/Barbershop Book Nooks: Combating Aliteracy

Children who don't have access to books or reading role models often become aliterate. Aliteracy is a state where someone is able to read but unmotivated or uninterested in doing so.

A couple of years ago, Dr. Sabrina A. Brinson, founded the Boys Booked on Barbershops/Girls Booked on Beautyshops project.

The project aims to encourage reading in local beauty shops or barbershops where families often frequent and usually sit around aimlessly waiting for their turn. What I love about this project is that she suggests multicultural books, the donation of books to these local businesses and also overall, how on point it is.

Most beauty shops I know of usually offer only women's magazines, and either radio or TV entertainment. Some even have signs posted about looking after your young ones on busy days and not letting them run buckwild while you get your hair done. I think this project resolves a lot of issues in one shot.

Why not speak to your local shop manager and put forth idea and then ask for donations for children's books?

Learn more at Boys Booked on Barbershops/Girls Booked on Beautyshops project

Sunday, July 19, 2009

10 Hottest Summer Reads from

Latina Magazine posted a neat slideshow of their picks for The 10 Hottest Summer Reads in a cute slideshow, which includes:

The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón,

Names I Call My Sister by Mary Castillo, Berta Platas, Lynda Sandoval, Sofia Quintero,

A Happy Marriage by Rafael Yglesias,

In Between Men by Mary Castillo

America Libre By Raul Ramos Y Sanchez,

The Strain: Book One of the Strain Trilogy by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Absent A Miracle by Christine Lehner

Let it Rain Coffee by Angie Cruz

Amigoland by Oscar Casares

The Husband Habit by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

2009 National Book Festival: Save the Date

"Now in its ninth year, this popular event celebrating the joys of reading and lifelong literacy will be held on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009,on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., between 7th and 14th Streets from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (rain or shine). The event, for which the Honorary Chairs are President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, is free and open to the public. More than 120,000 people attended the festival last year."

Authors slated to make presentations at the 2009 National Book Festival include: Julia Alvarez, Junot Diaz, Colson Whitehead, Ana Menendez, Asar Nafisi, Walter Mosley, Carmen Agra Deedy and more!

More info. available at

Saturday, July 18, 2009

New Book: Vigil by Cecilia Samartin

I was recently contacted about Vigil: A Novel by Cecilia Samartin.

Ana, is the protagonist who from her husband's deathbed reminisces on her "story that takes her from war-torn El Salvador, to a convent in the United States, and finally to a wealthy California estate where she is employed as the nanny for a dysfunctional family caught up in the throes of a decadent life.

Despite Ana's own emotional wounds, she is able to bring love and healing to her affluent yet spiritually bereft employers -- gifts that no money could ever buy. "

The author, Cecilia Samartin, a Cuban American, won the "prestigious Mariposa Award for best first book (English) by a Latina or Latino for her stunning debut novel of 2007, Broken Paradise."

As someone, who worked her way through college as a nanny, I look forward to reading it and hope you will check it out.

For more information, visit

Flan v. Tembleque

I am reading Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell in preparation to see the Julie and Julia movie next month.

For those of you, who aren't familiar with the book, it's based on a blog created by Julie Powell.

The book is sumptuous; it's written superbly, intelligent and funny. While reading about Powell's fear of eggs (sorry, you will have to read the book) it reminded me of my dislike of Flan.

Flan, "Crème caramel, or caramel custard is a rich custard dessert with a layer of soft caramel on top, as opposed to crème brûlée, which is custard with a hard caramel top."

Some might consider this Latina blasphemy, but the runny texture makes my stomach flop.

I prefer coconut pudding or Tembleque as Puerto Ricans call the light coconut custard that shakes like Jell-O. Jiggle it, baby!

Here's an easy recipe:

If you like to follow food blogs, here's a lovely one with awesome recipes and photos:

Friday, July 17, 2009

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Mas Fuerte

CuCu Diamantes

Spanish Bestselling Author Carlos Ruiz Zafon on Books

This article is so informative, I am posting it here in its entirety:

Author Says Success Opens Doors for Other Spaniards in U.S. By Concha Carron

MADRID – Spanish bestselling author Carlos Ruiz Zafon said he is overjoyed at the success his latest novel, “El juego del angel” (The Angel’s Game), has enjoyed in the United States because it will open doors for other writers from his homeland.

In an e-mail interview with Efe from Los Angeles, the author best known for the international phenomenon “La sombra del viento” (The Shadow of the Wind) said it is “a great satisfaction” for him that “The Angel’s Game” topped the American Booksellers’ Association’s Indie Bestsellers List for Hardback Fiction late last month.

Ruiz Zafon said he is “overjoyed” that 5 million copies have been sold worldwide of his latest novel, which is a long awaited follow-up and prequel-of-sorts to the wildly successful 2001 novel “The Shadow of the Wind,” both of which are atmospheric thrillers set in Barcelona that also serve as odes to literature.

According to the author, a native of Barcelona who has lived in Los Angeles since 1993, the difference between the U.S. market and other markets has to do “above all with scale.”

The United States is “a huge territory with very contrasting areas,” he said, adding that although the American market is “the toughest and most competitive,” it has aspects in common with other big markets, such as those of Britain and Germany.

With respect to the praise he has received in the United States, where some critics have compared him with “The Da Vinci Code” author Dan Brown, Ruiz Zafon said a writer must take praise and criticism “with great respect and the proper perspective; an author must be his own judge and know if he’s doing what he set out to do.”

Following the success of his previous two novels, Ruiz Zafon said the reception for “The Angel’s Game” has exceeded all of his expectations, adding that “you can never take for granted that previous success will necessarily translate into future success.”

Ruiz Zafon said that even though there have been many offers to bring “The Shadow of the Wind” and “The Angel’s Game” to the big screen he remains firmly opposed to making any film adaptations of his novels.

“Not because I have anything against the cinema, but for many reasons that would take too long to explain,” said the author, who has not ruled out “returning to the fold” and writing screenplays, as he did at the start of his career.

He stressed that he “wouldn’t change anything” about his career because that is the road that has been “walked and traveled” but would correct “some of the mistakes” he has made over the years, just as he supposes everyone would do if they could go back in time.

Although he said he expects one day to finish his supposed quartet of novels – thus far consisting of “The Angel’s Game” and “The Shadow of the Wind” – centered on the “Cemetery of Forgotten Books,” he plans in the immediate future to “explore other paths,” saying he has different, unspecified “things on the table.”

Regarding the possibility of exploring new genres, Ruiz Zafon said “you’re always looking for new challenges that allow you to keep exploring the possibilities of the novel,” although in the end “you end up falling in love with a story and some characters and trying to do them justice.”

He also said he is not ruling out returning to his beginnings as an author of youth literature, saying that young people “are the most demanding, sharpest readers a writer can have” because “they haven’t yet acquired prejudices or pretenses and are as or more intelligent than adult readers and much more honest with themselves and with the work.”


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Submissions for Latina/o Reader Blog Carnival Reminder

See original blog post for details to participate: Call for submissions

I will collect all submissions until July 30th.

Call-in at 4:30pm: Live Interview w/Las Comadres Book Club Founder

Today 7/16/2009 at 4:30 PM

Join or just listen live to an exciting discussion between GCP Editor Selina McLemore and Las Comadres Book Club Founder Nora Comstock about Latino literature, book clubs and much more.

Call in with your opinions!
If you want to call in live, be sure to dial (646) 378-0047.

Or listen and watch online at

You can learn more about the book club here:

Want to Know More about the Book Industry & Book Retail?

On FRIDAY, JULY 17, 2009 at the Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe is having a Workshop: 5:30 and a Book Lovers’ Meet & Greet at 7:00 (complete with wine & cheese, gift bags, and important people from the world of media and publishing)

Meet author, highly accomplished entrepreneur, and nationally respected bookseller, MARVA ALLEN shares the inside scoop on the retail side of book publishing. At this event, you will learn: “must know” info for any author who wants their books sold in bookstores; the latest trends and changes in the retail side of book publishing; why some books make it to the shelves and others don’t; and much more!

Part 1: WORKSHOP [5:30p - 7:00p]

A specialized workshop designed for writers who can benefit from learning the tricks of the trade…from the retail side of the book publishing industry. Bring pen, paper and plenty of questions.

Part 2: Book Lovers’ Meet & Greet [7:00p - 8:00p]

A room full industry movers and shakers…at your fingertips. As an added treat, all participants receive gift bags, take home materials, and light fare (wine & cheese sponsored by Cabot Cheese and Naked Winery).

The Meet & Greet is an exclusive networking environment designed for writers who want to enter or expand within the world of publishing. Come mix and mingle with:

Author, entrepreneur MARVA ALLEN (CEO, Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe);
Author, Exec. Director of The Center for Black Lit., DR. BRENDA M. GREENE.
Dr. Greene is also the Executive Director of The National Black Writers Conference;
MONIFA MAHT (Exec. Prod. & Host on WHCR 90. 5 FM);
JULIA SHAW (Shaw Literary Group), pr & marketing specialist to authors;
Published authors KHALIL ALMUSTAFA,

Friday, July 17, 2009
Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe
2319 Frederick Douglass Blvd (off 125th St.)
New York, NY 10027
(A, B, C, D trains to 125th Street in Harlem)
212.665. 7400

All this for $125
(The Workshop with MARVA ALLEN and the “Meet & Greet”)
For all registration inquiries, contact Terrell Davis at or 347.707.5348.

For alerts and new info, join the email lists of JLove Calderon and/or AKILA WORKSONGS, Inc.

This book publishing seminar series created and produced by JLove Calderon. For info on previous or upcoming workshops, email To learn more about JLove, visit Media Relations & Lecture Management for JLOVE CALDERON handled by AKILA WORKSONGS: 718.756.8501 or

Also starting on Friday, July 17th:

Harlem Book Fair 2009: Re-Inventing 21st Century Culture

Join us as we come together in the celebration of literature & culture on July 17-19th, 2009. In honor of Barack, community, and ourselves, this year celebrates Black People Re-Inventing 21st Century Culture. Please visit for more information and schedules. This year the Harlem Book Fair will also work in conjunction with its partners to launch the New Rochelle Festival of Books in May 2009 and The Westchester & Rockland Counties African American Book Fair (West/Rock) in June 2009.

Schedule of Events
Friday, July 17th, 7pm
The Wheatley Awards Honors Our Poets
Location: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Program and Awards – $10.00 Awards Dinner Reception, Program & Awards – $20.00 (By reservation only)

Invited Awardees: Cornelius Eady Yusef KomunyakaaNikki GiovanniThe Last Poets
Posthumous Award: John Hope Franklin, Author and Historian Flora Mwapa African Literature Award: TBA
Masters of Ceremony: Haki Madhubuti and Helena D. Lewis
Program: (Per) Verse Poets: Spoken Word On Center Stage (Performances by Invitation Only)Music by: Atiba Wilson & Songhai Djeli

Saturday, July 18th
Harlem Book Fair Outdoor Exhibits & Author Panel Discussions
Time: 11am-6pm
Locations: West 135 Street btw Malcolm X & Frederick Douglass Boulevards; Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Countee Cullen Library; & Thurgood Marshall Academy
ALL PROGRAMS ARE FREE. Check the QBR websites for updated, detailed program information.

Sunday, July 19th
Schomburg Panel Discussions
Time: 11am-4pm
Location: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
ALL PROGRAMS ARE FREE. Check the QBR websites for updated, detailed program information.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Vicky Cristina Barcelona: Free Tonight, NYC Riverflicks

Don't miss this chance to watch Vicky Cristina Barcelona, directed by Woody Allen. With Penelope Cruz,Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson, and Javier Bardem, riverside, under the stars for free tonight with free popcorn thrown in too @ pier 54 @ 14th st.

On Being Black & Asian

If you didn't have the opportunity to meet Poet and author, Staceyann Chin at the NAACP's free Author Pavilion event where she was signing yesterday, I think you should take the time to read her work.

Before I met my boyfriend, who is also Jamaican and Chinese, I was unaware of how large this particular community is within the Caribbean (the population in Cuba is second to the Jamaican one) since many of the Chinese who came to the region as indentured slaves were not permitted to marry Caucasians. When I traveled to visit his family there it was really interesting to say the least. I've always found his ancestry extremely fascinating as well any narrative that relates to being of a mixed heritage or "race."

When I heard about The Other Side of Paradise: A Memoir by Staceyann Chin, I was thrilled because she delves into what it was like being both Black and Asian (Afro-Asian, Blasian) in Jamaica (in the real Jamaica - not the the tourist version) and then her experience as an immigrant to the US. She expands even further into that experience as she narrates what it is also like to be a gay woman in Jamaica - a place and culture known to be highly homophobic.

I am thrilled when I see books like this that tell the (often common yet marginalized) story and experience of those who often are left out of the mainstream realm. This sounds like required reading to me.

Visit or read an interview at

Being Latino at an Ivy League

The memoir, A Darker Shade of Crimson: Odyssey of a Harvard Chicano by Ruben Navarrette Jr., was brought to my attention via a tweet: @andersoncooper: Latino in the Ivy League It sounds like an interesting and timely read:

From Kirkus Reviews

A young man's appraisal--Navarrette is only 25 now--of his turbulent years as a Mexican-American undergraduate at one of the nation's most prestigious universities. Navarrette starts with a declaration of independence, spurning the labels ``people of color'' (offensive) and ``Hispanic'' (too general), preferring ``minority'' and ``Latino.'' The man thinks for himself. That trait, along with a superb intellect (straight A's, valedictorian), gets him into Harvard--but you wouldn't know it from most of his teachers and classmates, who assume that affirmative action is his ticket.

Confronting that particular bigotry and others becomes Navarrette's job. He darts his barbs at two chief targets: the old Wasp elite that stifles the university with exclusive rules and expectations, and the new Mexican-American contingent, equally exclusive, that tries to shoehorn him into an ironclad rad-chic ideology. Friendship with Mexican-American essayist Richard Rodriguez; the arrest of a Harvard Latino chum on armed- robbery charges; and a provocative question posed to Cesar Chavez when the labor leader visits Harvard--all are milestones in Navarette's process of self-definition.

And that, in fact, is what this book is, for the gripping ethno-political issues ride atop a very conventional coming-of-age tale, replete with new buddies, homesickness, adolescent rebellion, loss of virginity, love affairs--familiar fare and ho-hum reading for those indifferent to Navarrette's emotional life. Powerful, though, for its two-fold message: that America must do more to educate Latinos (our fastest growing minority), and that freedom of thought belongs to everyone. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Visit to learn more.

UPDATE: My friend from HS wrote to me to say this: "This book has a deep personal meaning for me. I was going through a rough time at college (Wellesley) and felt so isolated and out of place. Ruben Navarrete spoke to my experience and to that of many other Latin@s at ivy schools and he normalized my feelings and gave me language to express my feelings: that of straddling two different worlds. Wonderful book."

It Takes a Village

"I change myself, I change the world."

- Gloria Anzaldua

"Take care of your family first.

But then reach out to your neighbor,

your block,

your city,

your country.

Everybody wants change,

but they want it to come by way of somebody else…

If you wait for the government,

you’ll wait a long time."

- Edward James Olmos

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Say My Name: SpaHa, SoBro...

This may already be old news but I just recently heard someone refer to Spanish Harlem as SpaHa. A couple years ago, I remember someone referring to the South Bronx as SoBro.

As a child of the late 70s and the 80s, I can remember when the streets of El Barrio or Spanish Harlem or East Harlem where littered with crack vials, drug dealers yelling "bajando" and drug addicts from corner to corner. The empty and trash littered lots that sometimes took up whole blocks, burned out abandoned buildings and homeless people.

Some changes, I guess you might call them gentrification, don't bother me. I don't mind the enormous, abandoned Washburn Wire Factory on East 116th Street being turned into a $150 million dollar shopping plaza to open in the fall that will house Target’s first Manhattan store above home Depot. It will bring jobs, stir the local economy and bring visitors to the community.

I am always shocked by the amount of new condos I see going up everywhere when I go back "home." But you know what? Those used to be empty lots or abandoned buildings. While I advocate for housing available to all, low income and middle income and above - I rather see those condos there than empty lots and homeless people sleeping in the streets. Then again, there is something vulgar about putting up condos in a community where on the average, the annual household income is around $21,175.

And while some community leaders decry the loss of the cultural community as a student of anthropology, I know that nothing exists in vacuum, that everything changes over time and is susceptible to outside influences and that in turn changes the progression of history. And sometimes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The same tension felt when the amount of Mexicans on 116th Street outgrew Puerto Ricans is not that different from the Italians' reactions to the Puerto Ricans back in the 1920s-1970s. Or from the tension or resentment about the population shift toward young middle-class whites in the last decade. El Barrio was once Italian Harlem, what it becomes next is any one's guess. It belongs to no one.

Yet, I take issues with highbrow terms like SoBro and SpaHa. My gut reaction is both a sneer and tired chortle.

What bothers me the most about the terms is the coat of varnish or whitewash they seem to try to imply on a place, which I consider rich historically and culturally. People might come and go but at least the name of the place should stay, no?

But then again... "What's in a name [really]? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2), William Shakespeare

Home is where your heart is.

Monday, July 13, 2009

NAACP is in town: Celebrate 100 YEARS & Meet Lots of Authors

Visit NAACP Author Pavilion

The NAACP Centennial Author Pavilion Celebration on July 13-15, 2009.100 YEARS, 100 AUTHORS begins today.

Don't miss the 3 Day Event at the New York Hilton Hotel
1335 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York, United States 10019


2009 Authors include: Diahann Carroll, Chris Gardner, Water Mosely, Terry McMillan, Dr. Dorothy Height, Bernice Mc Fadden and many many more. For the full roster click here.

Meet and Greets, Presentation Panels, book signings and live In the Café with Mocha Show tapings are the heart of the NAACP Author Pavilion experience, which is designed to bring readers together with their favorite writers and poets.

They also have a great listing of literacy links.

If you and want to live tweet, use #NAACP.

Enrique's Journey - A Teenager's Quest from Honduras to the US

Not Oprah's Book Club: Enrique's Journey via Feministing:

Every once in awhile, as a writer, you read a book that raises that bar in your own mind about what is possible in your profession. Enrique's Journey is such a book.

In it, Pulitzer Prize winner Sonia Nazario, follows the journey of a 17-year-old boy from Honduras as he tries to make his way to America to be reunited with his mother--who left when he was a small boy to pursue the American dream. As he rides on top of trains, tries to avoid gangsters and police, begs for food, sleeps in graveyards and abandon homes, struggles with drug addiction etc., I got the most lucid, gripping portrait into the journey of the child immigrant that I've ever been exposed to.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Stuff I'm Totally Sweating: Pomegranate

There is something about pomegranates that fascinates me. They are sweet but tart and of course beautifully red. They are also very good for you.

"Pomegranate seed juice provides about 16 percent of an adult's daily vitamin C requirement per 100 ml serving, and is a good source of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), potassium and antioxidant polyphenols."

They are also steeped in symbolism. "Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol for righteousness.In some artistic depictions, the pomegranate is found in the hand of Mary, mother of Jesus. Persephone, was tricked into eating pomegranate seeds by Hades, who kept her captive in the Underworld.

In ancient times they were offered to Demeter and to the other gods for fertile land, for the spirits of the dead and in honor of compassionate Dionysus. When one buys a new home, it is conventional for a house guest to bring as a first gift a pomegranate, which is placed under/near the ikonostasi (home altar) of the house, as a symbol of abundance, fertility and good luck."

They also taste great1 Some of my faves:
Pomegranate ice cream with chocolate chips, need I say more?
POM. Love it and love the adorable marketing campaign and packaging. What I don't love the price. However, I could drink POM mixed with Seltzer water all day long if need be.
PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur is a perfect mix of pomegranate, tequila and vodka (see the recipe below). While I don't drink much, I am a sucker for beautiful bottles.

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