Angie Cruz to present at University of South Florida

If you’re going to be in the Tampa Bay Area in early October, this looks like a great event to attend. Dominicana is on my list of must-reads.

Here’s what the book is about…

Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion never dreamed of moving to America, the way the girls she grew up with in the Dominican countryside did. But when Juan Ruiz proposes and promises to take her to New York City, she has to say yes. It doesn’t matter that he is twice her age, that there is no love between them. Their marriage is an opportunity for her entire close-knit family to eventually immigrate. So on New Year’s Day, 1965, Ana leaves behind everything she knows and becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a cold six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights. Lonely and miserable, Ana hatches a reckless plan to escape. But at the bus terminal, she is stopped by Cesar, Juan’s free-spirited younger brother, who convinces her to stay.

As the Dominican Republic slides into political turmoil, Juan returns to protect his family’s assets, leaving Cesar to take care of Ana. Suddenly, Ana is free to take English lessons at a local church, lie on the beach at Coney Island, see a movie at Radio City Music Hall, go dancing with Cesar, and imagine the possibility of a different kind of life in America. When Juan returns, Ana must decide once again between her heart and her duty to her family.

In bright, musical prose that reflects the energy of New York City, Angie Cruz’s Dominicana is a vital portrait of the immigrant experience and the timeless coming-of-age story of a young woman finding her voice in the world.


Resurrecting ‘Stories That Must Not Die,’ A Chilling, Seminal Collection of South Texas Folklore by Juan Sauvageau

This piece by Joe Galvan is dynamite:

It’s a deep, midnight-colored October evening in 1992. The first chill of autumn has arrived in Harlingen, bringing a reprieve from the summer heat that has lingered too long. Eight-year-old me pulls a dog-eared paperback from my backpack and I turn on the bedside lamp. The book’s edges have yellowed, but the pages inside remain creamy white. Flipping through it, I can smell decades of history—its stories told countless times on cool concrete porches or warm wooden rockers or over coffee-stained kitchen tables. I read the title out loud—Stories That Must Not Die. Ask anyone who went to elementary school in South Texas what Stories That Must Not Die is, and you’ll hear a variety of answers. To scholars, it’s a collection of folklore. To teachers, it’s a valuable bilingual teaching aid. To students and parents, though, it’s a treasure trove of the region’s best-known, most beloved tales.

There is a sophistication and poise in Stories That Must Not Die, a sort of straightforward beauty in each of the collected stories. Juan Sauvageau’s Spanish translations bear the hallmarks of border Spanish—the indigenous loanwords, the syntax, the same two-stepping cadences and rhythms that aren’t found anywhere else. Think of your grandmother sitting under a warm yellow bug light under the carport on a humid evening, sipping a cup of black coffee, speaking with all the gravitas of a courtroom deposition about the apparition of the infamous Woman in Black, or the devil in the Bluetown well on the way to Brownsville. Try not to scoff at the miraculous cures that Don Pedrito Jaramillo made in his clapboard cabin in Hebbronville, tenuous proof of faith in a faithless world. Try not to say a prayer when you hear thunder crack through the bluest sea breeze of a hot South Texas afternoon. These are all things I read in Stories That Must Not Die, and was moved by the singular resonance of their simplicity and bilingual elegance.

These ghost stories are not merely told to frighten children into behaving. They are the record of a collective memory marred by colonialism and intergenerational violence, a world of ranches and chaparral touched by fire from Mexican muskets and Texas Ranger pistols and lightning from above. And we would not have them had it not been for a French-Canadian man who came to be known as Juan Sauvageau.

Born in Québec, John James Sauveageau was the author of all four volumes of Stories That Must Not Die. He lived and worked in Mexico, France, Spain, and other parts of the United States before coming to South Texas sometime during the mid-20th century to teach at what is now Texas A&M–Kingsville. Intrigued by idiosyncratic Tejano culture, he visited ranches and towns from Laredo to Brownsville in search of folklore.

By the mid-1970s the tales he’d collected were showing up in local newspapers, all over the Rio Grande Valley. Sauvageau—who had changed his first name to Juan—had collected a handful of stories in Spanish, translated them into English, and published them in 1976. All four volumes have an eye-catching design: The titles appear in a chunky Roman font, accompanied by a drawing of a jeweled, hilted sword pointing downward. Roel Montalvo’s illustrations are loopy and true to their 1970s origin (one of the depicted characters resembles Charles Bronson, helmet hair and all).

Sauvageau—who died in Meridian, Idaho in 2011—originally wrote Stories That Must Not Die with young readers in mind. Their entire purpose was to foster bilingual literacy and cultural understanding. At that point, very few people (Gloria Anzaldúa and Américo Paredes, for example) had tackled the torturous history of the Rio Grande Valley as a standalone subject. But Sauvageau carefully collected the stories and presented them in a storybook format, along with a word list and reading comprehension questions in both English and Spanish. Kids and teachers loved the stories for different reasons: teachers appreciated the folkloric tales’ educational impact, while scary story-loving kids ate up the accounts of ghostly weeping women, poor little naked birds, and vanishing hitchhikers–stories all situated in their own backyard.

But the real brilliance of Stories That Must Not Die lies in its matter-of-fact retellings of key moments in Tejano history. “Los Rinches,” for instance, is a half-true recounting of the Texas Rangers’ misdeeds in South Texas, which were only commemorated in recent years with a historical marker near Brownsville. Another tells the true tale of Gregorio Cortéz, whose exploits won him both the admiration and scorn of Texans north and south of the Nueces. Sauvageau carefully skirts controversy by glossing over some events, but otherwise correctly relays historical truths. For some Tejano kids like myself, these stories were the first time we’d been introduced to a history of our own people.

The book’s most famous tales have been inscribed in the memory of every Chicano child: Particularly that of La Llorona, who drowns her children in the Rio Grande (specifically in a place called “El Rincón del Diablo” in Laredo, “The Devil’s Corner”) because she cannot give them a better life. This version of the legend adopts a very American moral obsession with material security and happiness, and is markedly different than the more moralistic rendition in Mexico that reflects aspects of genocide. Another famous story, “The Handsome Stranger,” recounts how a spoiled, selfish girl disobeys her mother’s forbiddance to attend a dance and finds herself pulled into the arms of Satan himself in a horrifying whirl of sulphur and brimstone. Animal stories are included alongside the ghost stories, reflective of the ancient cultures of indigenous people on the lower border.

In their truest form, the stories preserved memories of a landscape punctuated with doubt and fear; the violence suffered by Leonora Rodríguez de Ramos, the ‘Woman in Black’ seen traversing the intersection of Highway 281 and Farm-to-Market road 141 near Ben Bolt, is both an historical fact and a moral admonishment. Her hanging (which occurred before statehood) is a bone-chilling reminder of the scourge of domestic violence that can exist within Hispanic families.

I often think of that cool Friday night when I read my first volume of Stories That Must Not Die, cover to cover. I read the other three volumes within weeks and acquainted myself with their facts as if I were investigating a crime scene. At school, details were embellished among children who’d heard them; the stories mutated into the tallest of tales. Adults were consulted to verify their accuracy. All four volumes were perpetually checked out by fascinated schoolchildren all school year long .

Sauvageau’s work is hard to find nowadays though—the forty stories have never been collected into one single volume, and aside from a few cursory reprints of individual stories with illustrations by regional artists like Noé Vela and Jessica P. González, a complete Stories That Must Not Die remains elusive. Their presence in the minds of Tejanos as a source of literary inspiration is impressive: taken as a whole, they represent an important South Texan variety of Southern Gothic literature. Countless writers (like Donna native and writer David Bowles) have cited Sauvageau’s work as an important contributor to the literary heritage of Texas. I myself owe a great deal of debt as a writer to Stories That Must Not Die, both as an appreciator of Texas history, and as a writer of fiction centered on the border and the people who live there.

In the hearts and minds of many Tejanos, however, these books remain enshrined as a quintessential goth essential. Like all things from South Texas, these cherished volumes of folklore deserve greater attention—a rediscovery—especially now as Texas comes to terms with the violent and vengeful ghosts of its not-too-distant past. As an adult I can see the animosity that belied the supposedly harmonious world of the Rio Grande Valley. I can see ruthless Texas Rangers, heartless Mexican brigands, powerless farm laborers, and unscrupulous land barons. I can see the wide plains of the border spread out like a tablecloth—a battlefield, a contest of wills—between traditional and emerging identities, touched by steel and born in blood and fire, separated by a stinking river.

When I read Stories That Must Not Die, I am reminded of the perennial tragedy and heartbreak that marked the lives of people who lived here, how close they were to losing it all, how unfortunate were those who did. Their legacy is immortalized in these fables, legends, ghost stories. For nearly five decades these tales have lingered with anyone lucky enough to read them—and they will continue to for years to come. In fifty years’ time there may be more Stories That Must Not Die that will both haunt and inspire our children. It will be up to us to explain, in our own way, why those stories matter.

The New Generation of Latinx Literature Will Have Room for Everyone

Check out this article by Ruby Mora for


I grew up with a vigorous love for reading and storytelling. There was (and still is) a sense of ethereal magic that occurs when reading about other people, real or fiction, other worlds, other perspectives. At the time, I wasn’t looking to books for people who looked like me; I was looking for something outside myself. Eventually, though, I wanted to see myself reflected in the works I read—or at least know that it was possible, that other people reading fiction for other perspectives might find a perspective that looked a little like mine. What I found was that it was possible, but very rare. The great Sandra Cisneros and Julia Alvarez were some of the very few Latina authors that had pivotal works with Latinx characters heavily represented.

Over the last few years, Latinx representation in literature has slowly but surely increased. Among these new voices is Kali Fajardo-Anstine, whose debut short story collection Sabrina & Corinawas published this year. Centered around multiple Latinas with indigenous ancestry and the trials they face, while also having their lives interwoven through their shared home of Denver Colorado, Sabrina & Corina features complex Latina characters that fall outside of the stereotypes that are normally attached to this community in various media. This has been something that felt so out of reach for a long time in my eyes, but reading the stories of these women, women whose cultures and struggles are similar to mine, has given me a feeling of fullness I longed for since realizing the need for representation of the community I’m a part of in the stories I read. Latinx representation in literature has been increasing, but now it’s time for us to ask for something more than representation. It’s not enough for Latinx characters to exist, instead of not existing; we’re ready for a range of Latinx characters as varied and vital as the white characters we’ve been reading for so long. With its cast of challenging and admirable Latinas, Sabrina & Corina has the potential to be the start of a new generation of Latinx literature.

This is not to diminish the work of iconic Latina authors like Cisneros and Alvarez. In previous decades, transcendent and remarkable works, including In the Time of the Butterflies, The House on Mango Street, Esperanza Rising, and Like Water for Chocolate, gave us deep insight into Latina characters from various generations. The problem has always been one of numbers. There have always been very few Latina authors with work in mainstream literature, compared to the number of white authors who have their narratives widely and continuously available.

I don’t want to have to only expect these stories one in a while.

The women in Sabrina & Corina are complex and imperfect, three-dimensional in a way Latina characters don’t always get to be (especially when written by white authors). In a recent interview, Fajardo-Anstine stated that she “was trying to portray a community that, often times, is invisible in the greater Latinx narrative. Southern Colorado, Northern New Mexico, mixed Latinx communities here in Denver—I was trying to create characters that were very individualistic, very human, in a way that I haven’t seen rendered before.” Her characters deal with traumas and intense situations, some of which are unique to the community and indigenous ancestry they come from, but many more of which face not only the broader Latinx community but humans everywhere: racism, classism, general and intergenerational trauma, and gentrification, among others. Fajardo-Anstine goes past the surface of her characters and digs deeper, pulling all the complexities, aches, doubts, and struggles, both internal and external, to the forefront. There’s no sense of hindrance in the way that Fajardo-Anstine writes so relentlessly raw, especially through the voices of the Latinas she’s manifested. These were stories that I had to sit with after finishing each one, ruminating on each of their unique and detailed environments and narratives.

Even though I was absolutely overjoyed that Sabrina & Corina exists just as it is, I couldn’t help but wonder how the literary world could better itself if Latinx narratives like Fajardo-Anstine’s became commonplace. In glimpsing into these lives, I gained a sense of comfort, a camaraderie between myself and the women of many generations in the book, especially knowing that we share similar experiences with many of the hardships faced by our community. To feel these things, especially in a time where we are seen as less than, is phenomenal, but I don’t want to have to only expect these stories one in a while.

In literature that I’ve read prior, there weren’t many characters like me that I could relate to and identify with in regards to their described viewpoint as a Latina. The Latinas in Sabrina & Corina display the layers of experience, both good and bad, that come with being a Latina in an ever-changing society. Social pressures, machismo, colorism within our own community; there was a sense of comfort in knowing that I was reading about Latinas that I could connect with if they existed in real life, that I could share an unspoken mutual understanding with them. This is a feeling that white readers get all the time, so often that they probably don’t even notice. I, and undoubtedly many other Latinas, deserve to experience it more often. Our voices are often silenced and disregarded as unimportant in mainstream literature. When we do get narratives in literature and in U.S. media, especially, they end up warped into unrealistic, exaggerated versions of us. Having our narratives be written by us and for us allows us to reclaim and strengthen our voices, while also emphasizing to the public that we aren’t the sidekicks, the gang bangers, or the maids.

In the next generation of Latinx literature, Latinas won’t need to search for the stories we can connect with.

Other Latina authors have preceded Fajardo-Anstine into the mainstream, including Elizabeth Acevedo (The Poet X), Lilliam Rivera (The Education of Margot Sanchez), Erika L. Sanchez (I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter), and Ingrid Rojas Contreras (Fruit of the Drunken Tree). It’s apparent that what’s been happening in Latinx literature lately can easily be called a cultural renaissance. I can already tell, or at least truly hope, that this next generation of Latinx literature will be vast, full of a wide variety of voices within our community. There will be a multitude of voices from so many diasporas, a constant stream of thoughts, discoveries and rediscoveries of the depths of our cultures, contemplations on what it means to be Latina and what those who came before us suffered through in order to have us exist today. In the next generation of Latinx literature, Latinas won’t need to search for the stories we can, as a community, connect with.

Signs of a new era have been showing through, filled with narratives that allow Latinas to be even more proud of our cultures and roots, where we came from and what lies ahead. Fajardo-Anstine has created multidimensional Latinas who have shared paths with those who came before, who have shared griefs and devastating cycles of abuse, who haven’t had the ability to voice their stories. She and other new Latina authors are reclaiming these real narratives we’ve been used to going without during our experiences reading mainstream literature. I only hope that other Latinas who are yearning to have their writing out in the world see that there is still a demand for the stories they are holding on to, their potential contribution to this exciting moment and movement that’s happening. I hope for this influx of literature written by us to inspire more undiscovered and upcoming Latina authors to grow and join this reclamation of our narratives and true depiction of ourselves, imperfections and all. It is more than possible to have our narratives be easily and readily accessible in mainstream literature, and this renaissance we’re in the middle of is only the beginning of what’s to come. Let it continue to thrive further, for the sake of the generations currently here and the ones yet to arrive.


Check out this wonderful article by Christina Miranda for Has anyone read any of these books? Comment below! I can say that Everyone Knows You Go Home is excellent and pairs beautifully with Oscar Cásares Where We Come From.


With summer officially here, there’s now plenty of time do some light (or heavy) reading, depending on your liking. Whether you are taking a vacation, a road trip, or working but squeezing in some reading in throughout the workday, we have compiled a summer reading list of Latinx books that are sure to entertain, inform, and inspire you throughout the hot few months ahead.



Sylvester’s second novel tells the story of an unexpected family reunion. Following Isabel and Martin’s wedding, Omar, Martin’s father, appears unexpectedly as a spirit visible only to Isabel. Still unwelcome after abandoning his family, Martin admits his being unaware of Omar’s passing. Every year after, on their wedding anniversary, Omar visits Isabel in order to redeem himself by offering her his story, and revealing parts of her new family and husband. Everyone Knows You Go Home offers a story embedded in the harsh, emotional reality of new lives in a new country, how it takes a brutal toll on one family’s future, and the uphill journey towards redemption in life and death.



As a Filipino immigrant, Jose Antonio Vargas lets the reader know right from the beginning that “this book is not about immigration at all.” Instead, Vargas takes a different approach to describing his new life in America through his immediate immersion in its culture, his fascination with it, and the discomfort experienced in not belonging to it or his Filipino culture. Dear America is about wandering for an identity not just during a fresh start but for the many years that follow, and the weight one bears in finding a home.



We are witnessing a new racial and social movement, and Chicana Movidas serves as the perfect companion to the new Chicana revolution. Containing multiple contributions from Chicana activists and scholars, the book traces the early stages of the early Chicana movement up into the new century. Focusing on multiple subjects, from race to gender and sexuality, this anthology serves as a refreshing contribution to social activism and identity equality.



Peña’s debut novel introduces us to Uli and his brother, Cuauhtémoc. After taking a joy ride on a crop duster plane over the U.S.-Mexico border, the two crash land in Mexico, leaving them injured and immediately separated. Uli finds himself in a hospital, while Cuauhtémoc wakes up as a hostage to a drug cartel. In between these narratives lies their mother, Araceli, who makes the difficult decision to cross back to Mexico in search of her sons. Throughout the narrative, the three characters navigate the normalized dangers of living in Mexico and illuminate the personal experiences of Mexicans caught in the middle of a drug war.



Sandra Cisneros offers a truly special piece of literature in her new chapbook, Puro Amor, presented in English and Spanish side-by-side along with illustrations by Cisneros herself. Artists Mister and Missus Rivera surround themselves with a great number of animals, to the point that neighbors believe they’re running a farm. Cisneros provides her animals, ranging from cats and dogs to a fawn and iguana, with a regal, spiritual quality. As the two maneuver through the complications of their marriage, the animals are what give her life and the love she desires.



Set in a South Texas dystopian future where multiple border walls have been erected, all narcotics have been legalized and cartels have begun to enter the biological black market, resurrecting and mutating extinct animal species for consumption and shrinking indigenous heads for the wealthy. Esteban Bellacosa is submerged in a dark underground world, coming across relics of the ancient past, including the lost Aranaña Tribe and their dirty Trufflepig, which possessed mystical powers. Flores’ debut novel is fascinating and sprinkled perfectly with dark humor and psychedelic imagery that pulls you deep into Bellacosa’s universe.



Set in the 19th century, Swedish immigrant Håkan Söderström sets out east from California in search of his brother Linus, who was separated from him during their voyage to America. Through his journey he encounters the brutality and struggle of the people migrating west as he himself attempts to understand the violent and confusing world around him as a non-English speaker. As Diaz’s first novel (a Pulitzer Prize finalist to boot), In the Distance is an appealing new take on the modern western novel, countering the traditionally masculinist and violent narrative through Håkan’s own criticisms against it, and the shame it brings him as he becomes pulled into the frontier it creates.



Paloma Martinez-Cruz makes a gastronomic analysis of the way Chicanx food has evolved and is currently evolving in order to create a clearer understanding of its appropriation and exploitation. From the treatment of farm workers in multiple countries who grow and harvest the foods that supply its industry, to the way that traditional Latinx and Chicanx foods have been appropriated by an Anglo luxury market, this culinary critique brings light to the issues that surround one of the most important cultural components of Latinx communities. Cruz successfully helps food consumers understand what is currently wrong with the way we produce food, and pushes us to act to improve the quality of the products we purchase and the lives of the individuals who produce them.

Debut novel captures Chicano youth’s struggle

David Steinberg back at it again for ABQ Journal with another solid book review. This time for Barely Missing Everything by Matt Mendez.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — There are a lot of painful “ifs” in the rocky life of Juan Ramos, a high school senior who lives in an El Paso, Texas, barrio. Maybe too many for Juan to juggle.

If he can stay away from a street gang, he’ll survive another day.

If he can avoid a jail sentence after getting busted fleeing a party, then he might aright himself.

If he can pass algebra, he’ll graduate.

If his rolled ankle heals – he injured it while running from the cops – Juan may have a shot at a college basketball scholarship.

If he could only meet a man named Armando on death row he believes is his father, then it would put him at ease. Juan’s mother, Fabi, has long delayed an explanation of her son’s paternity.

Juan is the protagonist in Matt Mendez’s absorbing debut novel “Barely Missing Everything” that produces anguish and loss.

Fabi and Juan’s longtime best friend JD Sanchez are additional principal characters. JD is also on the basketball team, but he dreams of being a filmmaker. As a sign of interest, he buys a pocket-sized video camera from a thrift store for $20. He also owns a collection of bootleg movies on DVD.

Fabi is a flashy, self-centered presence. She’s currently with Ruben, the owner of a used car dealership and the latest in a string of boyfriends.

At her son’s high school basketball game, Fabi embarrasses Juan, shouting “¡Mijo! ¡Oyes, Juan! ¡Mijo! We’re going to meet you outside. … Novio wants a cigarito. This game’s over anyways.”

Juan abhors his mother’s novios, “recognizing them for what they were: cheap nobodies

The book captures the struggles of several Chicano families, some who live in the central El Paso barrio, and of one upwardly mobile family who lives in another neighborhood.

“It’s a stretch to call the novel autobiographical but I drew on experiences I had growing up. I grew up in that exact same neighborhood (as Juan did),” Mendez said in a phone interview from Tucson, Ariz., where he lives.

“It’s a tough neighborhood to be from. There aren’t a lot of jobs. People work long hours.”

The author also wanted his characters use the language that is actually spoken in the barrio in order to convey the real flavor of the community. The book is chock full of Spanish street slang but not so much that it would slow English-only readers. However, the dialogue is spiked with obscenities.

Mendez injects his own creative metaphors, sometimes humorously, in the narration. In this passage, for example, Juan and JD are trying to figure out what car they’ll “borrow” to drive to see Juan’s assumed biological father in prison. Juan suddenly changes gears, first needing to know if he passed his algebra test. That upsets his buddy: “JD stopped short and looked ready to fight, his whole body tense. Like a really pissed-off giraffe.”

Though the novel is aimed at young adults (ages 14-18), it should be of interest to readers of all ages.

Mendez’s first work of fiction was “Twitching Heart,” a collection of short stories released in 2012. A review of the collection described Mendez as “one of the new stars in the next generation of Chicano literature.”

By day, Mendez is an aircraft maintenance superintendent with the Arizona Air National Guard.

Reading & Signing: Cabañuelas by Norma Elia Cantú on 6/9/19 in Austin

Come join us at Bookwoman for a reading of Norma Elia Cantú’s second novel, Cabañuelas!

Nena leaves Laredo, Texas, and moves to Madrid, Spain, to research the historical roots of traditional fiestas in Laredo. Immersing herself in post-Franco Spain and its rich history, its food, music, and fiestas, Nena finds herself falling for Paco, a Spaniard who works in publishing. Nena’s research and experiences teach her about who she is, where she comes from, and what is important to her, but as her work comes to a close, Nena must decide where she can best be true to her entire self: in Spain with Paco or in Laredo, her home, where her job and family await her return.

Norma Elia Cantú is the Norine R. and T. Frank Murchison Endowed Professor of Humanities at Trinity University. Her earlier works include Transcendental Train Yard: A Collaborative Suite of SerigraphsCanícula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera, Updated Edition (UNM Press), and the coedited anthology Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: Tejanas in Literature and Art.

Event date:
Sunday, June 9, 2019 – 3:00pm to 4:30pm
Event address:
5501 North Lamar #A-105
AustinTX 78751


In my previous post about Latina Authors From the Texas-Mexico Border You Should Know, I highlighted three amazing authors whose contributions to literature cannot and should not be ignored. Their works emphasize life along the border and their experiences as individuals of a marginalized and diverse group. I wish I could have highlighted more amazing Latinas, but I had neither the time nor the space on that last piece. This is why I have chosen to write a follow-up to that first piece.

I wish to highlight three more amazing Latina authors that you should know because they are fucking fantastic! If you have not read their works yet, now is the time to do just that. In no particular order, they are as follows:


Diana Noble grew up in Laredo, Texas on the north bank of the mighty Rio Grande, across from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Her young adult novel Evangelina Takes Flight is truly a remarkable read that is worth your time. The book has received numerous honors and awards that include the Spirit of Texas Reading Program Selection, Texas Institute of Letters Best Young Adult Fiction 2018 (runner-up), June Franklin Naylor Award for Best Children’s Book 2018, National Association for Chicano & Chicana Studies, Tejas Foco Award for Best Young Adult Fiction 2018, Southwest Young Adult Book of the Year, Tomás Rivera Award Finalist, and Skipping Stones Multicultural Book Award 2018. The book was a massive achievement, and I am here to let you know that is it one hell of a read! Quickly, Evangelina Takes Flight is an incredible story loosely based on Diana Noble’s paternal grandmother’s life. The book is set in northern Mexico in 1911 during the Mexican Revolution, which began the year before, and provides a concise overview of the difficult decision many Mexican families had to make during the revolution: Do we stay or do we go? In this story, Evangelina’s family decides to leave their home and make their way north to a small border town on the U.S. side. But they quickly learn that many Americans are rude, nasty, unforgiving, and vehemently racist. Evangelina and her family begin to wonder if the locals will ever allow them to live their lives peacefully. This is truly a great book that you should read now.


Born in Lima, Peru, Natalia came to the U.S. at the age of four and grew up in Florida and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. Her work has appeared in Bustle, CatapultElectric LiteratureLatina Magazine, McSweeney’s Publishing, and the Austin American-Statesman. Natalia’s first novel, Chasing the Sun, was named the Best Debut Book of 2014 by Latinidad. Her latest novel, Everyone Knows You Go Home, won an International Latino Book Award, the 2018 Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters, and was named a Best Book of 2018 by Real Simple magazine. It is a remarkable read that touches on a plethora of issues that include immigration, borders, death, love, loss, tragedy, and redemption. Its blend of magical realism and surrealism are sure to entertain and satisfy. Latino Book Review accurately stated: “No character feels pigeonholed by stereotypes. Also, the book’s detailed accounts of undocumented immigration, such as a stash house that feels more like a prison, unflinchingly portray the reality of dangers faced by immigrants in a way that humanizes suffering.” I highly recommend this timely novel. Natalia’s debut YA Novel, Running, is forthcoming in 2020.


Guadalupe Garcia McCall is a legend and absolute badass. Her books have won numerous awards and she has received the highest honor and praise from readers and critics alike. She was born in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico. She immigrated with her family to the United States when she was 6 years old and grew up in Eagle Pass, Texas. Her book Under the Mesquite received the prestigious Pura Belpre Author Award, was a William C. Morris Finalist, received the Lee Bennett Hopkins/International Literacy Promising Poet Award, the Tomas Rivera Children’s Book Award, and was included in Kirkus Review’s Best Teen Books of 2011, among many other accolades. Summer of the Mariposas won a Westchester Young Adult Fiction award, was a finalist for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, was included in the 2013 Amelia Bloomer Project List, the Texas Lone Star Reading List, and the 2012 School Library Journal’s Best Books of the Year. Her books will hit you right in the feels and are excellent for readers of all ages. I highly recommend all of her books.

There is not much more I can say to add to the scholarship of these one-of-a-kind Latina authors. Their works are special and deserve to be read. Do yourself a favor and read them as soon as possible.

New Book: Cabañuelas by Norma Elia Cantú

Nena leaves Laredo, Texas, and moves to Madrid, Spain, to research the historical roots of traditional fiestas in Laredo. Immersing herself in post-Franco Spain and its rich history, its food, music, and fiestas, Nena finds herself falling for Paco, a Spaniard who works in publishing. Nena’s research and experiences teach her about who she is, where she comes from, and what is important to her, but as her work comes to a close, Nena must decide where she can best be true to her entire self: in Spain with Paco or in Laredo, her home, where her job and family await her return.Norma Elia Cantú is the Norine R. and T. Frank Murchison Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Trinity University. Her recent works include Transcendental Train Yard: A Collaborative Suite of SerigraphsCanícula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera, Updated Edition (UNM Press), and the coedited anthology Entre Guadalupe y Malinche: Tejanas in Literature and Art.



New Book: Ballad of a Slopsucker by Juan Alvarado Valdivia

Check out this new book from UNM press!

A young widower visits Chichén Itzá to honor his wife; family dynamics unravel at a child’s birthday party; the lead singer of a high school metal band faces his dreaded tenth reunion; a serial killer believes he’s been blessed by God to murder bicycle thieves—Alvarado Valdivia’s debut collection of short stories ranges from dark to light and is written with a storyteller’s skill and compassion. Based in Northern California and examining a variety of themes, including love, family, and masculinity, these stories offer an important new perspective on the experiences of Latinos and Latinas in the United States and complicate ideas of nationhood, identity, and the definition of home.


Juan Alvarado Valdivia was born to Peruvian parents and raised in Fremont, California. He is the author of ¡Cancerlandia!: A Memoir (UNM Press).

Alicia Gaspar de Alba in Austin on May 2nd   RSVP here – seats are limited!


“This is about resistance:” The Feminist Revisions of Alicia Gaspar de Alba

Thursday, May 2, 2019, 4:00pm – 6:00pm

The University of Texas Libraries, The Center for Mexican American Studies, the Center for Women and Gender Studies, and LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections invite you to commemorate the acquisition of the Alicia Gaspar de Alba papers. The multifaceted Chicana queer feminist scholar will be reading from her works and discussing her career with MALS lecturer and community organizer Lilia Rosas. Archival viewing and reception to follow remarks.