Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hispanic Heritage Month
As an American with roots in Latin America, I find it hard not to look askance at alleged celebrations of heritage. After all, Latinos and Asians, Arabs and African-Americans for that matter, are part of society 12 months of the year.  We don't need 30 days of exclusive recognition to realize that we count, that we matter, we're part of the melting pot. It is perfectly obvious to us that America is all of us and we are it.  We know this. I mean, McDonald's serves burritos, empanadas are street food, you can get frozen dumplings and microwave lo mein at the supermarket,and macaroni and cheese, that soul food staple, is the favorite dish of every kid in America under the age of 8 regardless of ethnicity. A delicious falafel pita is never more than a block away (ok maybe a little further outside Manhattan).  What all Americans need, no matter where our roots are, is to develop an understanding and appreciation for the "other" whoever that other may be. Literature, music and the arts allow us to do that.

Conventional Idiocy: Why the New America is Sick of Old Politics by Rick Sanchez
Conventional Idiocy: Why the New America is Sick of Old PoliticsThe popular CNN host writes about the public's disaffection with the same-old, same-old  politics as usual. In his fast-paced talkative style, he shares what his viewers are telling him and warns politicians and the media to ignore it at their own peril.
Bloody Twistby Carolina Garcia-Aguilera
Making a Killing: Femicide, Free Trade, and La Frontera (Chicana Matters)Lupe Solano is back, chicas! The intrepid Miami detective is back in her seventh mystery. This time she's investigating a high-paid call girl who's also a virgin, and the two dead guys she says she didn't kill.
Making a Killing: Femicide, Free Trade, and La Frontera Bloody Twist By Alicia Gaspar de Alba and Geogina Guzman
The murder and rape of over 500 women in Juarz Mexico has never been properly investigated by authorities in Mexico or the U.S. The murders have been the subject of at least 1 feature film (starring Jennifer Lopez), a documentary and several books by journalists, and independent investigators,  none of whom could ingnite a proper investigation or a semblance of concern by authorities. Now, twos scholars from the Chicana studies Department at UCLA have put together a scholarly analysis of the killings and the situation that has made them possible, from a number of perspectives. Chilling but necessary.
Alone in the Crowd: An Inspector Espinosa Mystery (Inspector Espinosa Mysteries)
Alone in the Crowd: An Inspector Espinosa Mystery (Inspector Espinosa Mysteries)Ahhh Copacabana. The sun. The surf. The bikinis. The bodies?  This fantastic mystery series features the existensial Inspector Espisosa never fails to disappoint. Did the old lady fall or was she pushed in front of the bus? Why did she visit the precinct just hours before her death? Who's the creepy bank teller? What gives? All will be answered in a psychologically compelling, suspenseful whodunit.
The Devil's Highway: A True StoryThe Devil's Highway: A True Story  by Luis Alberto Urrea       This is one of the best feats of writing and journalism I've ever read, and should be required reading in every higschool. Urruea tells the story of a group of  men who decide to cross the border from Mexico into the U.S. by walking through the desert, as many have before. This time though, something goes horribly wrong and the men are abandoned by their "coyote" guides and are left to make their way through the desert alone as best they can. Dying of thirst and heatstroke isn't pretty, and if you're willing to risk it, there must be a damn good reason, don't you think? Urrea weaves together his account from all the perspectives involved ; the men who cross, the border agents whose job is to deter and detain, and the Mexican consulate in Arizona, who must collect, identify and preserve the remains of those who don't make it.
A former Presidential Candidate in Colombia, Ingrid Betancourt was kidnapped by FARC guerillas and endured six years in captivity in the jungle before a daring rescue freed her in 2002. This is the story of her captivity (which she spent in chains most of the time), numerous escape attempts, and of her enduring spirit.
Pirates of the Levant (Captain Alatriste, Book 6)Pirates of the Levant 
by Arturo Perez-Reverte
The Latino Reader: An American Literary Tradition from 1542 to the PresentYour swash has never been buckled like this. Perez-Reverte, the enormously talented Spanish writer of The Flanders Panel and The Queen of the South, unleashes the sixth Captain Alatriste adventure this month. Think Three Musketeers on the high seas, complete with pirates, swords capes and heart-pounding battles.
The Latino Reader
 Almost from the moment Columbus landed Latinos have been recording, interpreting and sharing impressions of life in the new world. This extraordinary collection includes Cabeza de Vaca's account of the new world, and memoirs, essays, fiction poetry and drama spanning  five centuries. An invaluable resource and historical treasure of Latino history in the United States.

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