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ELIZABETH C. RAMÍREZ and Catherine Casiano present a whirlwind of Latina playwrights in La Voz Latina. At times this collection may seem chaotic in selection but in the end all of this diversity blends into a wonderful hue accompanied by a sharp critique and representation of Latina theatre. The book covers an extensive span of topics and the editors have selected a group of prominent, passionate, and eclectic Latina playwrights from 1980 to present.
IN 1994, LUMINARY CHICANO WRITER Ray Gonzalez helped launch the Camino Del Sol series, a vehicle of Latino literary voices that is published by the University of Arizona Press. Since its founding, the Camino del Sol series has established itself in both the Latino community and the publishing world as it garnered awards for its outstanding writing.
I READ BORDERING FIRES: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Mexican and Chicano/a Literature from cover to cover on an Amtrak train-ride from Boston to New York. Bordering Fires, edited and with an introduction by Cristina García, is a compilation of some of the most interesting and influential works by Mexican, Mexican-American, and Chicano/a writers of both past and present. When one thinks of a literary anthology the words “easy reading” do not always spring to mind, however, the rare humor, diversity and magical nature of the writing in Bordering Fires made reading on — page after page — not an option but a delicious necessity.
IN PUERTO RICAN POETRY: An Anthology from Aboriginal to Contemporary Times, editor Roberto Márquez provides a wide-ranging and comprehensive collection of Puerto Rican poetry that dates back to the era of conquest and colonization to contemporary poets on both the mainland and the island.
LITERARY AWARDS HAVE ALWAYS been a bone of contention in the literary world. For years, the National Book Awards, Man Booker Prize, The John Newbery Medal, National Book Critics Circle Award and the covetous Pulitzer Prize, excluded people of color. The African American, Native American, Latino, Arab and Asian communities created their own awards, providing a venue for authors that may not otherwise be discovered. Such is the case with the Chicano/Latino Literature Prize. Established in 1974, this annual competition is awarded by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California.
WHILE ARAB AMERICAN LITERATURE HAS BEEN AROUND since the first immigrants landed on America’s shores during the 1800s, only recently has the genre had been recognized as part of the ethnic literary landscape. In fact, most people would agree that during the mid-1980s and throughout the 1990s, Arab American literature grew by leaps and bounds, beginning with the anthology, Grape Leaves: A Century of Arab-American Poetry (1988), which alluded to the exclusion from writing circles and publications felt by Arab Americans as a group.
IN IN THE SHADOW OF AL-ANDALUS, Victor Hernández Cruz illuminates, through evocative poetic narrative, the interconnectedness of countries and cities across the Atlantic; from Puerto Rico to Morocco, from New York City to Mexico City, from Cordoba to Amsterdam. In his introduction to this poetic pilgrimage, Cruz specifies the importance of the “shadows” cast by Spain as both an ancient superpower and a lasting cultural influence: “I am in the shadow when I am in Morocco . . . and I am in that same shadow when in Puerto Rico, through language and culture.”
MODERN ARAB AMERICAN FICTION: A READER’S GUIDE, by Steven Salaita, is a complex study which takes the unique standpoint of attempting to introduce the reader to the realm of Arab American Fiction whilst continuously struggling against the existence and the constraints of such a category.
POETIC ACROBAT: THE POETRY OF RONNY SOMECK by Yair Mazor offers a glance into the work of Baghdad-born Israeli poet Ronny Someck. The translations of Someck’s work by Marganit Weinberger-Rotman are extremely fluid, seemingly effortless and often complimented by Mazor’s own notes (in his close-readings of the text, Mazor refers to the original Hebrew words and their connotative values within the Hebrew lexical topography to inform his analysis).
WHILE THE U.S. HAS BECOME DEEPLY INVOLVED in the Middle East, most Americans, lack knowledge about the region. Yet from Afghanistan to Palestine, from Morocco to Iraq, there is a vibrant and exciting literature by living authors that portrays the diverse experiences and perspectives of this vital part of the world, which lack exposure to the general public.