Authors pick their 2008 favorite Latino books

I’m not sure how long the Daily News has been doing these Latino book surveys but its become something that I really look forward to at the end of every year.

From this year’s list I’ll be reading Junot Diaz’s pick. A book that takes on an important and timely subject that should be of interest to Latinos. The image of Latinos as its presented or rather misrepresented in US society.

I’ll also check out Arellano’s book. I’m not a big fan of his weekly column but I do read it from time to time. When it’s funny, it’s very funny but when it’s not, it’s quite corny. That said, I am glad for his success. There can never be too many successful Latino writers in the mainstream media.

I will also get into Dark Dude by Hijuelos and Mexican Enough by Stephanie Elizondo Griest. They appear to be powerful books about racial identity and alienation.

Though not mentioned on the list one of the books I asked as a Xmas gift is Next Stop : Growing up Wild-Style in the Bronx by Ivan Sanchez. I hope to have good things to say about it.

As far as the Bolaño book. I will get to it someday but my tendency is to not jump in right away into these 900 page behemoths.

nydailynews.com

Authors pick their 2008 favorite Latino books

As author Dagoberto Gilb puts it, 2008 will be remembered for the “Bolaño ‘2666’ rage.”

Roberto Bolaño’s posthumous 900-page masterpiece, whose English translation arrived last month, has been voted the best Latino book of the year in Viva’s annual survey of writers.

Thirteen leading and upcoming authors from Latin America and the U.S. participated, and in the process gave us a peek at what they have in store for next year.

DANIEL ALARCÓN (Peru, California)

Author of last year’s “Lost City Radio” and associate editor of Etiqueta Negra, a literary magazine published in Peru. Next year, he’ll “finish the novel I’m working on. Learn Portuguese.”

PICK: “2666.” Roberto Bolaño. “An absolute monument of a novel, the sort of book that reminds you why you wanted to be an artist in the first place.”

CARMEN BOULLOSA (Mexico, Brooklyn)

Poet, novelist and playwright, this year she won Spain’s Café Gijón award for her novel “El Complot de los Románticos.” “I’m working on an opera with Mexican composer Marcela Rodríguez and a movie based on my novel ‘La Virgen y el Violín.’”

PICK: “2666.” “A masterpiece; extremely disturbing.”

SANDRA CISNEROS (Chicago, San Antonio, Tex.)

A pivotal figure in Chicana literature, next year she will mark the 25th anniversary of her first novel — “The House on Mango Street” — with a 20-city tour. She’s also working on three books: “Infinito” (short stories), “Writing In My Pajamas” (non-fiction) and “Bravo Bruno” (children’s).

PICK: “The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters,” Lorraine López. “I’ve been very fond of this writer since I first selected her ‘Soy La Avon Lady & Other Stories’ for the Curbstone [Press’ Mármol] Prize.”

JUNOT DÍAZ (New York City, Dominican Republic)

This year’s winner of the literature Pulitzer Prize for his goundbreaking first novel, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.”

PICK: “Latino Spin: Public Image and the Whitewashing of Race,” Arlene Dávila. “If you want to understand who we really are versus who the U.S. makes us out to be read this fierce amazing book. Dávila is the best of our intellectuals.”

DAGOBERTO GILB (California, Texas)

Leading Chicano author of the anthology “Hecho en Texas” and this year’s novel “The Flowers.” He will publish a new novel next year.

PICKS: “Teeth,” Aracelis Girmay: “So joyful, but complex.”

“Orange County,” Gustavo Arellano: “Intelligent and fearless.”

“Half of the World in Light, New and Selected Poems,” Juan Felipe Herrera: “Not just a loco but an energetic talent.”

“First Stop in the New World,” David Lida: “How it is in Mexico City in actuality, not fantasy.”

LEOPOLDO GOUT (Mexico, New York)

Painter, writer and filmmaker, the author of “Ghost Radio.” He’s working on a graphic novel, two books and a movie. “I’m also producing the first ever Michel Gondry animation film.”

PICK: “Cenizas” (Ashes), by Naief Yehya, to be published next year. “His pages are marked by despair, humor and hope in face of nostalgia, 9/11 and the alienation experienced by living in a foreign land.”

OSCAR HIJUELOS (New York City, Cuba)

Author of the recently published young-adult novel “Dark Dude.” He’s working on “Beautiful Maria of My Soul,” a follow-up to his Pulitzer-winning “The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love.”

PICK: “Voices in First Person: Reflections on Latino Identity,” an anthology of monologues for Latino kids, by Lori Marie Carlson. “I’m guilty of bias — of course — [Carlson is Hijuelos’ wife] but I wouldn’t recommend it if it wasn’t first rate.”

GUILLERMO MARTÍNEZ (Argentina)

Leading Argentinean novelist, author of “The Book of Murder.” Next year he will publish a collection of short stories, “Los Reinos de la Posición Horizontal.”

PICK: “La Sexta Lámpara,” Pablo De Santis. “A story about the birth of New York’s skyscrapers, boasting extraordinary reflections on the poetry of architecture, and an unforgettable character.”

“El trabajo,” Aníbal Jarkowski. “A novel set in the jobless Argentina of the 90s … An atmosphere between absurdity and nightmare, very far from the usual social portrays of these issues.”

ERNESTO QUIÑONEZ (New York City)

El Barrio-based author of “Bodega Dreams” and “Chango’s Fire.”

PICK: “South By South Bronx,” Abraham Rodríguez. “The guy could have made tons of money if he wrote ‘thug lit’ and not this wonderful, nonlinear, complex noir, which shows he is a true artist.”

SERGIO RAMÍREZ (Nicaragua)

One-time vice president of Nicaragua and the country’s foremost novelist, he recently published “El Cielo Llora por Mí” and is working on a new novel “with all the time in the world,” thanks to a Guggenheim fellowship.”

PICK: “La Breve y Maravillosa Vida de Oscar Wao,” Junot Díaz (translated by Achy Obejas). “It makes me think whether the new Latin American novel is starting to be written in English … A new language, a new kind of mixed literature, the literary triumph of immigrants. The mojada novel.”

DANIEL SERRANO
(Chicago, Brooklyn)

Debuted this year with crime novel “Gunmetal Black.” Next year, he will publish “Boogiedown.”

PICK: “Dark Dude,” Oscar Hijuelos. “Subtle coming-of-age story of a teenage Cubano … The experience of discrimination by a ‘White’ Latino highlights the absurdity of hate. Great stocking stuffer for teens.”

ILAN STAVANS (Mexico, New York)

Author and scholar, he recently published the graphic novel “Mr. Spic Goes to Washington.” He’s working on “a book-long essay on immigration” and two anthologies, including “Becoming Americans: 300 Years of Immigrant Writing.”

PICK: “2666.” “Bolaño is such an incredible author, he makes me want to go in prison in order to have endless time to read him.”

ALISA VALDÉS-RODRÍGUEZ (New Mexico, Arizona)

Best-selling author of the chica-lit phenomenon “The Dirty Girls Social Club” (2003) and its 2008 sequel, “Dirty Girls on Top.”

PICK: “Mexican Enough: My Life Between the Borderlines,” Stephanie Elizondo Griest. “A phenomenal memoir, by a brave and curious soul.”

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2 Responses to Authors pick their 2008 favorite Latino books

  1. Jason says:

    Very cool post. I love seeing what authors choose from among their peers as noteworthy!

  2. thehealer31 says:

    I agree. It makes reading such lists all the more fascinating and enjoyable.

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