Book rev. of Hernan Diaz’s In The Distance

This book review, written by Elliott Turner, can be found here:—in-the-distance–latino-book-review.html  As always, please visit the original site if possible.


​The antebellum American West serves as the landscape for Hernan Diaz’s story of a Swedish immigrant named “the Hawk” who futilely searches for his lost brother.

From the violent California Gold Rush to the lawless pioneer trail, the Hawk travels Eastward, against the flow, hoping to find his brother eventually in New York City. However, the Hawk, a mountain of a man, runs into bandits, grifters, corrupt politicians, thieves, and murderers. He grows to loathe the company of other people, isolating himself and then ultimately rejecting the American dream – and hopes of seeing his brother – after seeing the land’s ugly underside.

In The Distance, like Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon, relies on a foreigner with a noble mission to shed light on the often perverse values that underlied America’s Westward expansion. The Hawk finds one decent man on the wagon trail, a man of science, who almost leads them to death in the great desert of modern day Utah. ​

The pacing is excellent throughout, both on a paragraph and chapter level. Also, Diaz has dug deep into historical archives to pepper the story with details about life at the time – from how to load and fire a singleshot musket to building a mound hut and digging an underground cave bunker.

The carefully constructed sentences are long in length, and reflect the wanderings of Hawk. This may test some reader’s patience, but they don’t distract from this tale of isolation and frustration.

In The Distance is a methodical, haunting glance at the true dark heart of the antebellum American West.

Hernan Diaz is the author of Between History & Eternity; his fiction debut, In the Distance, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and short-listed for the Saroyan Prize for Innovative Fiction.

In the Distance is published by Coffee House Press. Click here to purchase.

New Book: No more bingo, Comadre! by Nasario Garcia

It takes all kinds to populate Northern New Mexico, and this book has every one: from gypsies and gamblers to ranchers and criminals. Noted author Nasario García introduces us to some of these people and the challenges they face. The title character, Adelfa, flirts with the glamour of casinos and finds herself addicted to gambling. Sam “Spam” Austin, an inmate serving a long sentence for murder, is paroled, attends medical school, and becomes a doctor. The affable grandfather in “Yo Quiero Hacer un Lie ’Way,” a hard-working and honorable rancher, stuns the proprietor of a mortuary with his request to put a coffin on layaway.

This book will be available September 1, 2018.

New Book: Cutting the Wire Photographs and Poetry from the US-Mexico Border

This will be out in October 2018 and looks to be a promising read…


Cutting the Wire, a masterful collaboration between photographer Bruce Berman and poets Ray Gonzalez and Lawrence Welsh, offers us a way to look again, to really look, at the border between Mexico and the United States. Berman, who has photographed and lived in El Paso for decades, is a documentarian who uses his camera to record what’s in front of him rather than for, as he puts it, “mere self-expression.” Berman’s visual investigations of the everyday realities of the border—detention centers, smeltertown cemeteries, kids playing along a river levee, descanso crosses on telephone poles for the disappeared—are exactly the stuff the poetry of Gonzalez and Welsh is made of. The multilayered histories of the border landscape provide an inexhaustible supply of rich and fertile raw material for both Gonzalez and Welsh. But their poetic visions allow them to capture elements of a personal and collective past that historians have often failed to record.

“Transfronteriza/os: Transborder Citizenships” at UCLA

This looks like an interesting talk if you’re in the LA area.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

CSRC Library – 144 Haines Hall


This panel reunites emerging scholars and experts specializing in U.S.-Mexico transborder citizenships and experiences. Through cutting-edge ethnographies, surveys and theoretical papers, this panel raises recognition, respect, and dignity of transfronteriza/os, or, transborder citizens and families who travel routinely across U.S. and Mexican borders and live on both sides of the geopolitical divide. Join us and learn more about what it means to live, learn, leisure, and labor in between the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.

Panelists (in order of presentation):

Estefanía Castañeda, doctoral student, UCLA, Political Science

Kendy Rivera Cárdenas, doctoral candidate, UCLA, Chicana/o Studies

Vannessa Falcón, doctoral student, SDSU/ CGU, Education

Yolanda Guerrero, doctoral candidate, Universidad Iberoamericana, Education


Dr. Heidy Sarabia, CSU Sacramento, Sociology

Event in NYC: Encuentro de Narradoras Latinas en Estados Unidos

Is anyone going to be in NYC on May 24th? There appears to be a promising event featuring some of the best Latin@ writers who live in the USA and write in Spanish. Could be of interest. Here are the details:

When:Thursday, May 24th, 7 PM to 9 PM EST

Where: ID Studio Theater, 311 East 140 Street, Bronx, NY 10454

What/Who: Encuentro de Escritoras Latinas – Naida Saavedra, Keila Vall de la Ville, Melanie Marquez Adamss y Raquel Abend van Dalen compartirán lecturas de sus cuentos y poemas en una noche que celebra la voz de la mujer dentro del movimiento literario conocido como el New Latino Boom (literatura en español creada y publicada dentro de Estados Unidos).

Aunque las biografías de estas autoras contrastan diversas experiencias y carreras literarias, sus textos comparten una urgencia por la inclusión de la voz de la mujer y sus historias como parte integral de todo movimiento literario