Hermosa, poetry, Yesika Salgado
Black Wings, Sehba Sarwar
Blood Sugar Canto, poetry, irene lara silva
Teresa of Avila: Ecstasy and Common Sense, by Tessa Bielecki
VirginX, poetry, Natalia Trevio
The Architecture of Language, poetry, Quincy Troupe
Codex of Love: Bendita Ternura, poetry, Liliana Valenzuela (Im rereading this)
Their Dogs Came With Them, novel, Helena Mara Viramontes (Rereading this too)
Whats the last great book you read?
The one Im reading now; Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, a history of how the United States evolved to where we are as a nation besieged by gun violence. This is not the kind of book Id usually read, but I loved her earlier book, An Indigenous Peoples History of the United States; reading it was like going back to school and gaining a new perspective of the Americas, one that retrieved the lost history of my ancestors. Im on a mission to make up for the huge gaps in my miseducation as a woman of color.
Are there any classic novels that you only recently read for the first time?
The Nine Guardians, by Rosario Castellanos, a beautiful novel about a village on the Mexico-Guatemala border during the turbulent power shifts of the 1930s. Castellanos is one of the most brilliant writers of the last century, but when the Latin American boom in literature resounded in the United States, it was only the male voices that were heard. At this point in my life, I want to read the classics from the Americas, from Mexico, from women, from the working class, from the Indigenous communities, from everyone who hasnt been allowed to the podium before.
Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how).
I prefer reading lying down propped by a sea of pillows, like a famous grand horizontale, in bed or on the terrace, on a chaise or in a hammock, or simply on the couch; preferably on a day when no one rings the doorbell, which is almost impossible, because in Mexico, everyone rings the bell. The flower seller, the doughnut man, the water man, the sweet potato man, the knife sharpener, the woman asking to sweep your driveway, the man who was laid off his job and is looking for work as a gardener, the nice couple from the countryside with fresh tortillas and prickly pear paddles, the man who sells wool snakes to keep out the doorway drafts. I am lucky to be able to work from home and not have to ring doorbells, so I have no right to complain.
Whats your favorite book no one else has heard of?
My favorites are Gwendolyn Brookss Maud Martha and Merc Rodoredas The Time of the Doves, both books that deal with war, though the former only at the finale. Come to think of it, many of my favorite books are about women surviving or waging war Elena Poniatowskas Heres to You, Jesusa!, a melding of fiction and nonfiction about a Mexican woman warrior; Cartucho and My Mothers Hands, both memoiristic accounts by Nellie Campobello that witness war from a childs point of view; Recollections of Things to Come, a novel by Elena Garro, which documents Mexicos Cristero War of the 1920s; Tempest Over Mexico, a memoir by Rosa King, a foreigner who witnessed the key players of the Mexican Revolution; and A Woman in Berlin, a brutal memoir of the sacking of Berlin by a writer too afraid to publish under any other name but Anonymous. Except for Maud Martha and Tempest Over Mexico, they were all written in a foreign language, with some translations faring better than others. These are not your typical war stories.
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