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Kick off Latino Books Month with 40 great reads
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CHARLESTON, S.C. - Since 2004, May has been the home of Latino Books Month. The month-long celebration encourages readers to discover Latino books that highlight Latino culture and Latin American identity in both English and Spanish.
This year, with our branches closed due to COVID-19, and our book displays showcasing incredible LatinX writers going unseen, we brought in Gerald Moore, the branch manager at Dorchester Road Library, to compile a list of nearl four dozen LatinX titles to fuel this month's reading binge.
"In this list, you will recognize classic books by Latino authors whose works have crossed over into the mainstream. You may find a few who are not widely known. There are also some new, noteworthy contemporary voices included on this list. I hope that this information can be used to promote the diversity of our collection," he said.
Let's get to it!
Daughters of Fortune by Isabel Allende
An orphan raised in Valparaiso, Chile, by a Victorian spinster and her rigid brother, vivacious young Eliza Sommers follows her lover to California during the Gold Rush of 1849. Entering a rough-and-tumble world of new arrivals driven mad by gold fever, Eliza moves in a society of single men and prostitutes with the help of her good friend and savior, the Chinese doctor Tao Chi'en. California opens the door to a new life of freedom and independence to the young Chilean, and her search for her elusive lover gradually turns into another kind of journey.
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
Acclaimed writer Julia Alvarez's brilliant, buoyant and beloved first novel gives voice to four sisters recounting their adventures growing up in two cultures. Selected as a Notable Book by both the New York Times and the American Library Association, it won the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for books with a multicultural perspective and was chosen by New York librarians as one of twenty-one classics for the twenty-first century. In this debut novel, the García sisters-Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofía-and their family must flee their home in the Dominican Republic after their father's role in an attempt to overthrow a tyrannical dictator is discovered. They arrive in New York City in 1960 to a life far removed from their existence in the Caribbean.
This coming-of-age classic and the bestselling Chicano novel of all time follows a young boy as he questions his faith and beliefs — now one of PBS's "100 Great American Reads."
Antonio Marez is six years old when Ultima comes to stay with his family in New Mexico. She is a curandera, one who cures with herbs and magic. Under her wise wing, Tony will probe the family ties that bind and rend him, and he will discover himself in the magical secrets of the pagan past—a mythic legacy as palpable as the Catholicism of Latin America. And at each life turn there is Ultima, who delivered Tony into the world and will nurture the birth of his soul.
The winner of the 2015 National Humanities Medal, Rudolfo Anaya is acclaimed as the father of Chicano literature in English and for his rich and compassionate writing about the Mexican-American experience.
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
The bestselling coming-of-age classic, acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught in schools and universities alike, and translated around the world from the winner of the 2018 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.
The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero, a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Told in a series of vignettes-sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous-Sandra Cisneros' masterpiece is a classic story of childhood and self-discovery.
Combining magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder into an inspiring tale of self-discovery, The Alchemist has become a modern classic, selling millions of copies around the world and transforming the lives of countless readers across generations.
Paulo Coelho's masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different-and far more satisfying-than he ever imagined. Santiago's journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.
The International Bestseller and modern literary classic by Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career, he whiles away the years in 622 affairs—yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia –Marquez
One of the twentieth century's enduring works, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a widely beloved and acclaimed novel known throughout the world and the ultimate achievement in a Nobel Prize–winning career. The novel tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendía family. Rich and brilliant, it is a chronicle of life, death, and the tragicomedy of human kind. In the beautiful, ridiculous, and tawdry story of the Buendía family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo; one sees all of Latin America. Love and lust, war and revolution, riches and poverty, youth and senility, the variety of life, the endlessness of death, the search for peace and truth—these universal themes dominate the novel.
America’s Dream by Esmeralda Santiago
América Gonzalez is a hotel housekeeper on an island off the coast of Puerto Rico, cleaning up after wealthy foreigners who do not look her in the eye. Her alcoholic mother resents her; her married boyfriend, Correa, beats her; and their fourteen-year-old daughter thinks life would be better anywhere but with América. When América is offered the chance to work as alive-in housekeeper and nanny for a family in Westchester County, New York, she takes it as a sign that a door to escape has been opened. Yet even as América revels in the comparative luxury of her new life, daring to care about a man other than Correa, she is faced with dramatic proof that no matter what she does, she cannot get away from her past.
El Sueno De America by Esmeralda Santiago
América Gonzales es empleada de un hotel en una isla en la costa de Puerto Rico, donde limpia los cuartos de extranjeros ricos que miran de reojo. Su madre alcohólica le tiene resentimiento... su novio Correa, quien es casado le pega... y su hija de catorce años piensa que su vida seria mejor en cualquier otro lugar menos donde esté America. Asi que cuando le ofrecen la oportunidad de trabajar como criada y niñera para una familia en el municipio de Weschester, Nueva York, America cree que ha encontrado una puerta de escape. Pero al mismo tiempo en que disfruta del lujo relativo de su nueva vida atreviéndose incluso a querer a otro hombre que no sea Correa, América tiene que luchar contra la constante sensación de que nunca podra escapar su pasado, no importa lo que haga.
Conquistadora by Esmeralda Santiago
As a young girl growing up in Spain, Ana Larragoity Cubillas is powerfully drawn to Puerto Rico by the diaries of an ancestor who traveled there with Ponce de Leon. And in handsome twin brothers Ramon and Inocente—both in love with Ana—she finds a way to get there. Marrying Ramon at the age of eighteen, she travels across the ocean to Hacienda los Gemelos, a remote sugar plantation the brothers have inherited. However, soon the Civil War erupts in the United States, and Ana finds her livelihood, and perhaps even her life, threatened by the very people on whose backs her wealth has been built: the hacienda's slaves, whose richly drawn stories unfold alongside her own in this epic novel of love, discovery and adventure.
The Tower of Antilles by Achy Obejas
The Cubans in Achy Obejas's story collection The Tower of the Antilles are haunted by an island: the island they fled, the island they have created, the island they were taken to or forced from, the island they long for, the island they return to, and the island that can never be home again. In "Supermán," several possible story lines emerge about a 1950s Havana sex-show superstar who disappeared as soon as the revolution triumphed. "North/South" portrays a migrant family trying to cope with separation, lives on different hemispheres, and the eventual disintegration of blood ties. "The Cola of Oblivion" follows the path of a young woman who returns to Cuba, and who inadvertently uncorks a history of accommodation and betrayal among the family members who stayed behind during the revolution. In the title story, "The Tower of the Antilles," an interrogation reveals a series of fantasies about escape and a history of futility. With language that is both generous and sensual, Obejas writes about lives beset by events beyond individual control, and poignantly captures how history and fate intrude on even the most ordinary of lives.
Every Night is Ladies’ Night by Michael Jaime-Becerra
With a cast of characters so vivid they seem to leap from the page, this collection of linked short stories offers a portrait of individuals aching to find their place in an indifferent world. The characters who inhabit these stories teenagers, beauty queens, race car drivers, and even grandfathers fall in love, strive to make ends meet, or search for answers to their future while reconciling the past. Michael Jaime-Becerra casts a warm glow on each of them.
Unending Rooms: Stories by Daniel Chacon
The winner of the Hudson Prize, this collection of stories, mainly set in the Southwest, digs deep into the lives of its characters. Daniel Chacon's writing is very lucid and dips into Carveresque plain talk at times, but he is not afraid to use pretty descriptions as well. Daniel Chacon is author of Chicano Chicanery as well as various short stories and plays. His fiction has appeared in several journals, including ZYZZYVA, New England Review, and Callaloo, and his plays have been produced in California and Oregon.
Woodcuts of Women: Stories by Dagoberto Gilb
Ten moving and heartbreaking stories of love, lust, and longing among men and women struggling to find their way in the world. Written in Gilb's spare but throbbing language, each of these haunting stories featuring characters of Mexican-American heritage is crafted with a poetic, aching beauty. The men and women in these stories are often at odds with each other. Like woodcuts, the men are unable to see the women in their lives as little more than crude variations of their actual complexity-symbols of seduction, mystery, and power who ultimately bring about each male character's undoing. At turns powerful and resonant, hopeful and humorous, Woodcuts of Women is a tour de force by one of America's foremost Latino writers.
Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado
In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.
A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store's prom dresses. One woman's surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella "Especially Heinous," Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naïvely assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgängers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.
Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction
Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Winner of the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction! Benjamin Alire Sáenz's stories reveal how all borders--real, imagined, sexual, human, the line between dark and light, addict and straight--entangle those who live on either side. Take, for instance, the Kentucky Club on Avenida Juárez two blocks south of the Rio Grande. It is a touchstone for each of Sáenz's stories. His characters walk by, they might go in for a drink or to score, or they might just stay there for a while and let their story be told. Sáenz knows that the Kentucky Club, like special watering holes in all cities, is the contrary to borders. It welcomes Spanish and English, Mexicans and gringos, poor and rich, gay and straight, drug addicts and drunks, laughter and sadness, and even despair. Like these stories, his writing crosses borders and lands in our collective psyche.
This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz
From the award-winning author, a stunning collection that celebrates the haunting, impossible power of love. On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In a New Jersey laundry room, a woman does her lover's laundry and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness—and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses. In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, these stories lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart.
At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcon
The breakout book from a prizewinning young writer: a breathtaking, suspenseful story of one man's obsessive search to find the truth of another man's downfall.
Nelson's life is not turning out the way he hoped. His girlfriend is sleeping with another man; his brother has left their South American country and moved to the United States, leaving Nelson to care for their widowed mother; and his acting career can't seem to get off the ground. That is, until he lands a starring role in a touring revival of The Idiot President, a legendary play by Nelson's hero, Henry Nunez, leader of the storied guerrilla theater troupe Diciembre. And that's when the real trouble begins.
The tour takes Nelson out of the shelter of the city and across a landscape he's never seen, which still bears the scars of the civil war. With each performance Nelson grows closer to his fellow actors, becoming hopelessly entangled in their complicated lives until, during one memorable performance, a long-buried betrayal surfaces to force the troupe into chaos.
Nelson's fate is slowly revealed through the investigation of the narrator, a young man obsessed with Nelson's story-and perhaps closer to it than he lets on. In sharp, vivid, and beautiful prose, Alarcón delivers a compulsively readable narrative and provocative meditation on fate, identity, and the large consequences that can result from even our smallest choices.
Born on the island of Saint-Domingue, Zarité-known as Tété-is the daughter of an African mother she never knew and one of the white sailors who brought her into bondage. When twenty-year-old Toulouse Valmorain arrives on the island in 1770, he purchases young Tété for his bride. Yet, it is he who will become dependent on the services of his teenaged slave. Against the merciless backdrop of sugar cane fields, the lives of Tété and Valmorain grow ever more intertwined. When the bloody revolution of Toussaint Louverture arrives, they flee the brutal conditions of the French colony that will become Haiti for the raucous, freewheeling enterprise of New Orleans. There, Tété finally forges a new life, but her connection to Valmorain is deeper than anyone knows and not easily severed.
Afterlife by Julia Alvarez
For Antonia Vega, the immigrant writer at the center of Afterlife, the rug has been pulled out from under her. She has just retired from the college where she taught English when her husband suddenly dies. Fiercely intelligent, sharply droll, and disinclined to engage, Antonia has always sought direction in the literature she has loved-lines from her favorite authors play in her head like a soundtrack. However, when, on top of everything else, her bighearted but unstable sister disappears and a pregnant, undocumented migrant teenager appears on Antonia's doorstep, she finds that the world demands more of her than words.
The Sonny Baca Novels by Rudolfo Anaya
Four mysteries featuring a Chicano PI in New Mexico. These four novels starring detective Sonny Baca are set against the lush terrain of the American Southwest, blending its Spanish, Mexican, and Native American cultures.
Zia Summer: Sonny Baca's cousin Gloria is brutally slain, her body found drained of blood with a Zia sun sign-the symbol on the New Mexican flag-carved on her stomach. His quest to find her killer leads Baca across New Mexico's diverse South Valley to an environmental compound and a terrifying brujo.
Rio Grande Fall: A woman plummets to her death from a hot air balloon during Albuquerque's famous Balloon Fiesta-and Baca recognizes it as no accident.
Shaman Winter: Baca, confined to a wheelchair after a violent encounter, is haunted by chilling dreams, but has no other choice than to go to work when the Santa Fe mayor's teenage daughter disappears and the trail leads to a charismatic and dangerous shaman.
Jemez Spring: A high-profile murder ignites a hotbed of political treachery and terrorist threats that take Baca to Los Alamos, pitting him against a formidable foe and a nuclear bomb.
Unrelentingly suspenseful, with vivid details of the physical and spiritual landscape of northern New Mexico, these mysteries are great for fans of Margaret Coel or James D. Doss.
One autumn afternoon in Mexico City, seventeen-year-old Luisa does not return home from school. Instead, she boards a bus to the Pacific coast with Tomás, a boy she barely knows. He seems to represent everything her life is lacking-recklessness, impulse, and independence. Tomás may also help Luisa fulfill an unusual obsession: she wants to track down a traveling troupe of Ukrainian dwarfs.
According to newspaper reports, the dwarfs recently escaped a Soviet circus touring Mexico. The imagined fates of these performers fill Luisa's surreal dreams as she settles in a beach community in Oaxaca. Surrounded by hippies, nudists, beachcombers, and eccentric storytellers, Luisa searches for someone, anyone, who will promise, no matter what, to remain a mystery. It is a quest more easily envisioned than accomplished. As she wanders the shoreline and visits the local bar, Luisa begins to disappear dangerously into the lives of strangers on Zipolite, the "Beach of the Dead." Meanwhile, her father has set out to find his missing daughter. A mesmeric portrait of transgression and disenchantment unfolds. Sea Monsters is a brilliantly playful and supple novel about the moments and mysteries that shape us.
Out in the Open: A Novel by Jesus Carrasco
A young boy has fled his home. He's pursued by dangerous forces. What lies before him is an infinite, arid plain, one he must cross in order to escape those from whom he's fleeing. One night on the road, he meets an old goatherd, a man who lives simply but righteously, and from that moment on, their paths intertwine.
Out in the Open tells the story of this journey through a drought-stricken country ruled by violence. A world where names and dates don't matter, where morals have drained away with the water. In this landscape the boy—not yet a lost cause—has the chance to choose hope and bravery, or to live forever mired in the cycle of violence in which he was raised. Carrasco has masterfully created a high stakes world, a dystopian tale of life and death, right and wrong, terror and salvation.
A gritty and gorgeous debut that follows a cast of gay and transgender club kids navigating the Harlem ball scene of the 1980s and '90s, inspired by the real House of Xtravaganza made famous by the seminal documentary Paris Is Burning.
It's 1980 in New York City, and nowhere is the city's glamour and energy better reflected than in the burgeoning Harlem ball scene, where seventeen-year-old Angel first comes into her own. Burned by her traumatic past, Angel is new to the drag world, new to ball culture, and has a yearning inside of her to help create family for those without. When she falls in love with Hector, a beautiful young man who dreams of becoming a professional dancer, the two decide to form the House of Xtravaganza, the first-ever all-Latino house in the Harlem ball circuit. But when Hector dies of AIDS-related complications, Angel must bear the responsibility of tending to their house alone.
As mother of the house, Angel recruits Venus, a whip-fast trans girl who dreams of finding a rich man to take care of her; Juanito, a quiet boy who loves fabrics and design; and Daniel, a butch queen who accidentally saves Venus's life. The Xtravaganzas must learn to navigate sex work, addiction, and persistent abuse, leaning on each other as bulwarks against a world that resists them. All are ambitious, resilient, and determined to control their own fates, even as they hurtle toward devastating consequences.
A Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick. In 1960's Florida, a young Cuban exile will risk her life-and heart-to take back her country in this exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana.
Beautiful. Daring. Deadly. The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez-her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro's inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost. As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future-but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything-not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart.
Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contretras
A mesmerizing debut set in Colombia at the height Pablo Escobar's violent reign about a sheltered young girl and a teenage maid who strike an unlikely friendship that threatens to undo them both. Beautiful. Daring. Deadly. The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez-her family, her people, and her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro's inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Pulitzer Prize winning novel. Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fukú—a curse that has haunted Oscar's family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love.
Death Comes in through the Kitchen by Teresa Dovalpage
Matt, a San Diego journalist, arrives in Havana to marry his girlfriend, Yarmila, a 24-year-old Cuban woman whom he first met through her food blog. However, Yarmi is not there to meet him at the airport. He hitches a ride to her apartment and finds her lying dead in the bathtub.
With Yarmi's murder, lovelorn Matt is immediately embroiled in a Cuban adventure he did not bargain for. The police and secret service have him down as their main suspect, and in an effort to clear his name, he must embark on his own investigation into what really happened. The more Matt learns about his erstwhile fiancée, though, the more he realizes he had no idea who she was at all—but did anyone?
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this dark, one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore. The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather's house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.
Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather's room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea's demise, but success could make her dreams come true.
A boy and a girl who fall in love. Two families whose hopes collide with destiny. An extraordinary novel that offers a resonant new definition of what it means to be American.
Arturo and Alma Rivera have lived their whole lives in Mexico. One day, their beautiful fifteen-year-old daughter, Maribel, sustains a terrible injury, one that casts doubt on whether she will ever be the same. Therefore, leaving all they have behind, the Riveras come to America with a single dream: that in this country of great opportunity and resources, Maribel can get better.
When Mayor Toro, whose family is from Panama, sees Maribel in a Dollar Tree store, it is love at first sight. It is also the beginning of a friendship between the Rivera and Toro families, whose web of guilt and love and responsibility is at this novel's core.
Woven into their stories are the testimonials of men and women who have come to the United States from all over Latin America. Their journeys and their voices will inspire you, surprise you, and break your heart.
Suspenseful, wry and immediate, rich in spirit and humanity, The Book of Unknown Americans is a work of rare force and originality.
The Summer of Dead Toys (Inspector Salgado Series, Book 1) by Antonio Hill
A riveting crime thriller set in the midst of a sultry Barcelona summer, introducing the first book in the Inspector Salgado series. Argentine native Inspector Héctor Salgado is one of Barcelona's leading criminal detectives. After a stint on probation—he assaulted a suspect from a human-trafficking case—Salgado is back in the office and eager for something major.
To his dismay, he is assigned to a routine accidental death instead: a college student fell from a balcony in one of Barcelona's ritzier neighborhoods. However, as Salgado pieces together details from the victim's life, he realizes that his death was not very simple: his friends are clearly hiding something and drugs might be involved. Salgado follows a trail that will lead him deep into the underbelly of Barcelona's high society, where he will confront dangerous criminals, long-buried secrets, and, strangely, his own past.
Fall in love with this hilarious and heartwarming USA Today bestselling romantic comedy that LJ Shen calls "an absolute treat." Kristen Peterson does not do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just do not get her. She is also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children. Planning her best friend's wedding is bittersweet for Kristen — especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He is funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he would be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it is harder and harder to keep him at arm's length.
A young Cuban woman has been searching in vain for details of her birth mother. All she knows of her past is that her grandfather fled the turbulent Havana of the 1960s for Miami with her in tow, and that pinned to her sweater-possibly by her mother-were a few treasured lines of a Pablo Neruda poem. These facts remain her only tenuous links to her history, until a mysterious parcel arrives in the mail. Inside the soft, worn box are layers of writings and photographs. Fitting these pieces together with insights she gleans from several trips back to Havana, the daughter reconstructs a life of her mother, her youthful affair with the dashing, charismatic Che Guevara and the child she bore by the enigmatic rebel.
Dark Constellations by Pola Oloixarac
Dark Constellations dwells on those fork-in-the-road moments in the evolution of our species. The story is told in three parts, each set in a different century.
Canary Islands, 1882: Caught in the nineteenth-century wave of scientific classification, explorer and plant biologist Niklas Bruunis researches Crissia pallida, a species alleged to have hallucinogenic qualities capable of eliminating the psychic limits between one human mind and another.
Buenos Aires, 1983: Born to a white Argentinian anthropologist and a black Brazilian engineer, Cassio comes of age with the Internet, and demonstrates the skills and personality that will make him one of the first great Argentine hackers.
The southern Argentinian techno-hub of Bariloche, 2024: Piera, on the same research group as Cassio, studies human DNA. When the Estromatoliton project comes to fruition, the Argentine government will be able to track every movement of its citizens without their knowledge or consent, using censors that identify DNA at a distance.
In a dazzling novel of towering ambition, Oloixarac proves that true power resides in the world's most deeply shadowed interstices, as beautiful and horrifying as dark constellations themselves.
Names on a Map by Benjamin Alire Saenz
The Espejo family of El Paso, Texas, is like so many others in America in 1967, trying to make sense of a rapidly escalating war they feel does not concern them. However, when the eldest son, Gustavo, a complex and errant rebel, receives a certified letter ordering him to report to basic training, he chooses to flee instead to Mexico. Retreating to the land of his grandfather-a foreign country to which he is no longer culturally connected-Gustavo sets into motion a series of events that will have catastrophic consequences on the fragile bonds holding the family together. Told with raw power and searing bluntness, and filled with important themes as immediate as today's headlines, Names on a Map is arguably the most important work to date of a major American literary artist.
The Barbarian Nurseries by Hector Tobar
With The Barbarian Nurseries, Héctor Tobar gives our most misunderstood metropolis its great contemporary novel, taking us beyond the glimmer of Hollywood and deeper than camera-ready crime stories to reveal Southern California life as it really is, across its vast, sunshiny sprawl of classes, languages, dreams, and ambitions. Araceli is the live-in maid in the Torres-Thompson household-one of three Mexican employees in a Spanish-style house with lovely views of the Pacific. She has been responsible strictly for the cooking and cleaning, but the recession has hit, and suddenly Araceli is the last Mexican standing-unless you count Scott Torres, though you'd never suspect he was half-Mexican but for his last name and an old family photo with central LA in the background. The financial pressure is causing the kind of fights that even Araceli knows the children should not hear, and then one morning, after a particularly dramatic fight, Araceli wakes to an empty house-except for the two Torres-Thompson boys, little aliens she has never had to interact with before. Their parents are unreachable, and the only family member she knows of is Señor Torres, the subject of that old family photo. Therefore, she does the only thing she can think of and heads to the bus stop to seek out their grandfather. It will be an adventure, she tells the boys. If she only knew.