Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Top Ten Latino Books, 2012

     Fifteen years ago I sat in Aimee Bender's Introduction to Fiction class at UCLA and wrote the following two lines:  Human dreams had been written in archaic Spanish, and terrible sins described in faded brown ink on whisper-thin paper.  The entire spectrum of love was examined: practical jokes and puns, recipes for desperate wives and artistic poisoners, centuries of words put down for those who followed.
     I'd been listening to my mom's Sandoval stories while flat on my back with a bad case of sciatica, but I'd heard these tales my whole life: the Sandoval sisters were spinsters and reputedly also witches.  They'd adopted two Anglo brothers whose parents had died on the trail to Santa Fe. My mind focused on the witchcraft, which I liked, and less to my taste, the spinster aspect, which meant no sex.  Or did it?
     I took more classes, joined two writing groups, and wrote the book from the orphaned Anglo children's POV, making one of them a girl.  Poor Anglo babies were tagged as Sandovals:  Our Anglo last name disappeared and we became the Sandoval children on every legal document of that time, but we were not la gente.  We were the children of the Sandoval witches.
     My agent said I had the makings of two, possibly three books, on the Sandovals.  I rewrote the story, transforming all the flashbacks into the present.  The story focuses on the sisters, with only a bit of precognition announcing the future generation of Sandovals at the end of the book.
     The novel reflects Santa Fe's unique position in history:  it was the first foreign capital conquered by the U.S.  Thousands of Anglo soldiers entered the town, assuredly having an effect on the residents, especially the women, but not a word has been written from a female perspective.  Until now.
     It's not easy marketing a historical novel about Mexicans who were already here-in what would become the contiguous U.S.- published by a small press and written by an unknown writer.  The Mexican American War is the least written about subject in our history.  If I could have figured out how to work Abraham Lincoln into the plot, I would have had an easier time of it.  I preferred directing my talents, and imagination, to the sex I wanted the Sandoval Sisters to have.  Just kidding. Not really.

       So . . . I'm pleased to announce that I've been included in a top 10 list selected by The Latino Author.com.  The list includes a Pulitzer prize winner, a National Book award winner, NY Times bestsellers and writers of memoirs, romance, and short stories:  

Top Ten Best Books By Latino Authors In 2012
this-is-how-you-lose-her
1) This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz.

This is a selection of short stories depicting love, relationships, and heartbreak. Mr. Díaz uses his skill of writing to bring his characters to life.
a-wedding-in-haiti
2) A Wedding in Haiti by Julia Alvarez.

A memoir depicting the author’s relationship with a Haitian farmer named Piti. It captures things that are witnessed during her unusual relationship with this farmer as well as how her trips to this place impact and affect her.
have-you-seen-marie
3) Have You Seen Marie? by Sandra Cisneros.

This book captures the quest of a girl in search of her cat right after the death of her mother. The search creates an internal transformation of the character Sandy. The beautiful poetic writing brings the book to life.
the-distance-between-us
4) The Distrance Between Us by Reyna Grande.

A memoir depicting the author’s early years as she and her siblings are left behind with their grandparents in Mexico while the parents enter the United States illegally. It is a heartfelt story.

Sandoval_Sisters_Secret_of_Old_Blood
5) The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood by Sandra Ramos O’Briant.

A brilliantly told story of the Sandoval Sisters and their life journeys during the mid 1800s. The author excellently interweaves much history of the United States and Mexico during that time. The book is written with great skill and talent.
we-the-animals
6) We the Animals by Justin Torres.

As you read this book, you may think you are reading “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros; although, this book is about a dysfunctional family whereas Ms. Cisneros’ book is not. The book is written with the same style and flavor and uses a vignette structure to tell the story. The author is quick witted and uses a very clever style of writing.
all-that-glitters
7) All That Glitters by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez.

A powerful story bringing two unlikely characters together through which a bond and friendship is developed. In this friendship they find strength, love, and success.
killing-the-american-dream
8) Killing the American Dream: How Anti-Immigration Extremists are Destroying the Nation by Pilar Marerro.

This is a book that should be read by everyone interested in the immigration issues of the United States. The author skillfully and objectively captures the problems of immigration today omitting much of the political and technical jargon.
secret-saturdays
9) Secret Saturdays by Torrey Maldonado. 

This story captures the life of an inner city kid and gets into the minds and souls of how they think and feel. Although the story is fiction, it is so real.
looking-for-esperanza
10) Looking for Esperanza by Adriana Páramo.

This is an excellent book depicting the hidden world of undocumented female farmworkers and the struggles that they endure on a daily basis just to survive. This is a very powerful book.


http://www.thelatinoauthor.com/top/