Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Book Puta

This post was going to be titled HotLatinaSlutReader to lure readership but I changed my mind after reading this on Book Slut.
Particularly point #4.
Replace "gender" with "ethnicity" and "female" with "Latina":

Pick your mentors and role models wisely. Sisterhood can be a wonderful thing, but a supportive and productive working writer-editor/publisher relationship is going to be built around individual personalities, not ethnicity per se. You’ll recognize encouragement and good advice when you encounter it. Don’t assume that allLatina writers and editors will automatically help you; also don’t assume that all male writers and editors are intent on keeping you down. Be alert for evidence of bias, though, and be prepared to contest it. You deserve equal consideration as a writer; you don’t deserve to get published just because you’re Latina. Think about the published writers you admire who are also Latina and take heart from their example. They did it, ergo it can be done.

The one thing that usually deters me from picking up a "Latina book" is not some political opposition to the marketing term. It's because I don't like it. It's either got boring characters, no action, the dialogue sounds fake, or worse - the culture feels like it is deployed as a gimmick. Pretty much the same reasons I ignore other books. 

But the lack of book reviews that constructively critique Latina fiction makes me wonder - because there is such a small number of Latinas in the publishing industry and getting published, does that mean we have to be treated (or treat  each other) like intellectually weak and emotionally fragile little sisters? 

I am in awe of  Christine Granados review of Brando Skyhorse's Madonnas of Echo Park. You have to read it. Not only was it an intelligent and well thought out review of modern Chicano literature, it feels like a call to action for Chicanos to not let outside cultures define them.  Immediately after reading the book review, I attended a literature reading. Although I did not recognize any of the readers of Latino descent, this being Los Angeles, Mexican culture was referenced in three different stories. These are the words that told the audience a Mexicanito character was in scene: "puta" "illegal" "gardener" "borracho".

I may have been the only one in the audience bothered by (or cognizant of) that.

Reading Granados review and attending that reading made me want to be a better writer. Granados showed how we are at the point in our cultural evolution where we can speak honestly about work and only have our taste questioned if we don't like the work, not our cultural loyalty.  And attending that public reading illustrated that it is my responsibility to contribute to the cultural conversation.  When the time is right, my novel will have its moment. Until it does, allow me to share the work of writers I like.

Let's start here.

More book things.

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