Great Authors list
There's something special about making these book recommendations in the middle of summer. It's a chance to remind readers of notable titles from the spring season and to tempt them with titles appearing on the cusp of the fall.
As a Latino book critic, I'm particularly thrilled to highlight the following books by Latino authors who are emerging voices in American letters and who, early in their careers, are making excellent contributions to this country's expanding Latino literary culture.
I invite readers to seek out these nine exceptional books of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, all of them published in 2015, and to take note of these nine young writers whose original visions provide insight into the complex ways Latinos see their communities, their families, and themselves.
Furious Dusk by David Campos available at Amazon.com. Courtesy of Amazon.com / Courtesy of Amazon.com
1. Furious Dusk by David Campos (University of Notre Dame Press)
This moving collection of poems explores the challenges of living with those dysfunctional family bonds that shape a person's journey toward adulthood. Chicano poet Campos has the uncanny ability to zero in on a memory, a moment, and amplify it into a meaningful exchange between family members, which in turn becomes a compelling statement about everyone's troubled yet rewarding relationships.
Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet available on Amazon.com. Courtesy of Amazon.com / Courtesy of Amazon.com
2. Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet (St. Martin's Press)
Capó Crucet made her debut with the gorgeous collection of stories, in which she explores Cuban American identity and culture, one or two generations removed from the community of Cuban exiles. In this dazzling debut novel, a young female protagonist is also caught between the impulse to define herself independently of her family's past and the pressure to never stray far from home and its bittersweet cultural values.
White Light by Vanessa Garcia. Just before her father's sudden death, Cuban-American artist Veronica Gonzalez is offered her first gallery exhibit, a real chance to break into the art world. Courtesy of Shade Mountain Press / Courtesy of Shade Mountain Press
3. White Light by Vanessa Garcia (Shade Mountain Press)
This fascinating novel draws from Garcia's second professional role as a visual artist. In the book, a Cuban American painter is on the verge of an important artistic recognition when the death of her father sends her reeling into a dramatic soul-search that she can best express through her art. The colors of her palette are meant to reflect the range of feelings she contends with as she accepts that her own fulfillments are an extension of her father's immigrant dream.
In Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older, Sierra Santiago planned an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes the first party of the season. Courtesy of Trade Publicity, Scholastic / Courtesy of Trade Publicity, Scholastic
4. Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older (Arthur A. Levine Books)
With this young adult novel debut, Older creates one of the most empowering young Afro-Latina heroines in the genre. The story unfolds in the streets of Brooklyn, where Sierra Santiago's home territory becomes blessed by the magic of her artistic storytelling and besieged by an evil force that threatens to wipe out the history, memory and music precious to her beloved Caribbean community. Fierce and forthright, Sierra sets out to fight against the erasure of cultural legacy.
Hollywood Notebook by Wendy C. Ortiz is available at Amazon.com. Courtesy of Amazon.com / Courtesy of Amazon.com
5. Hollywood Notebook by Wendy C. Ortiz (Writ Large Press)
Ortiz's previous memoir, Excavation:A Memoir, dealt with the risky subject of a clandestine relationship between an adolescent girl and her considerably older male lover. In the equally honest and courageous Hollywood Notebook, Ortiz reflects on the hard lessons learned as a young woman navigating through the streets of Los Angeles. By gathering bits of wisdom and poignant life experiences, she pieces together a portrait of her youth as complex and dynamic as the place she calls home.
Barefoot Dogs by Antonio Ruiz-Camacho is available on Amazon.com. Courtesy of Amazon.com / Courtesy of Amazon.com