"Chicano writers from El Paso are the most progressive, open-minded, far-reaching, and inclusive writers of them all."

Octavio Romano

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New Book Titles in May 2011: Chicano(a) Topics

New Book Titles in May 2011: Chicano(a) Topics

Fighting Their Own Battles: Mexican Americans, African Americans, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Texas
Hardcover - The University of North Carolina Press (April 18, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0807834785 ISBN-13: 978-0807834787
Brian D. Behnken

Between 1940 and 1975, Mexican Americans and African Americans in Texas fought a number of battles in court, at the ballot box, in schools, and on the streets to eliminate segregation and state-imposed racism.

Although both groups engaged in civil rights struggles as victims of similar forms of racism and discrimination, they were rarely unified. In Fighting Their Own Battles, Brian Behnken explores the cultural dissimilarities, geographical distance, class tensions, and organizational differences that all worked to separate Mexican Americans and blacks.

Behnken further demonstrates that prejudices on both sides undermined the potential for a united civil rights campaign. Coalition building and cooperative civil rights efforts foundered on the rocks of perceived difference, competition, distrust, and, oftentimes, outright racism.

Behnken's in-depth study reveals the major issues of contention for the two groups, their different strategies to win rights, and significant thematic developments within the two civil rights struggles. By comparing the histories of these movements in one of the few states in the nation to witness two civil rights movements, Behnken bridges the fields of Mexican American and African American history, revealing the myriad causes that ultimately led these groups to "fight their own battles."

Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America
Paperback Scribner; Reprint edition (May 3, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1416538984 ISBN-13: 978-1416538981
Helen Thorpe

Just Like Us tells the story of four high school students whose parents entered this country illegally from Mexico. We meet the girls on the eve of their senior prom in Denver, Colorado. All four of the girls have grown up in the United States, and all four want to live the American dream, but only two have documents.

As the girls attempt to make it into college, they discover that only the legal pair see a clear path forward. Their friendships start to divide along lines of immigration status.

Then the political firestorm begins. A Mexican immigrant shoots and kills a police officer. The author happens to be married to the Mayor of Denver, a businessman who made his fortune in the restaurant business. In a bizarre twist, the murderer works at one of the Mayor’s restaurants – under a fake Social Security number.

A local Congressman seizes upon the murder as proof of all that is wrong with American society and Colorado becomes the place where national arguments over immigration rage most fiercely. The rest of the girls’ lives play out against this backdrop of intense debate over whether they have any right to live here.

Just Like Us is a coming-of-age story about girlhood and friendship, as well as the resilience required to transcend poverty. It is also a book about identity – what it means to steal an identity, what it means to have a public identity, what it means to inherit an identity from parents.

The girls, their families, and the critics who object to their presence allow the reader to watch one of the most complicated social issues of our times unfurl in a major American city. And the perspective of the author gives the reader insight into both the most powerful and the most vulnerable members of American society as they grapple with the same dilemma: Who gets to live in America? And what happens when we don’t agree?

I'm Neither Here nor There: Mexicans’ Quotidian Struggles with Migration and Poverty
Paperback Duke University Press Books (May 30, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0822350351 ISBN-13: 978-0822350354
Patricia Zavella

I’m Neither Here nor There explores how immigration influences the construction of family, identity, and community among Mexican Americans and migrants from Mexico.

Based on long-term ethnographic research, Patricia Zavella describes how poor and working-class Mexican Americans and migrants to California’s central coast struggle for agency amid the region’s deteriorating economic conditions and the rise of racial nativism in the United States.

Zavella also examines tensions within the Mexican diaspora based on differences in legal status, generation, gender, sexuality, and language. She proposes “peripheral vision” to describe the sense of displacement and instability felt by Mexican Americans and Mexicans who migrate to the United States as well as by their family members in Mexico.

Drawing on close interactions with Mexicans on both sides of the border, Zavella examines migrant journeys to and within the United States, gendered racialization, and exploitation at workplaces, and the challenges that migrants face in forming and maintaining families. As she demonstrates, the desires of migrants to express their identities publicly and to establish a sense of cultural memory are realized partly through Latin American and Chicano protest music, and Mexican and indigenous folks songs played by musicians and cultural activists.

Naturalizing Mexican Immigrants: A Texas History
Hardcover University of Texas Press (May 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0292725574 ISBN-13: 978-0292725577
Martha Menchaca

During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a majority of the Mexican immigrant population in the United States resided in Texas, making the state a flashpoint in debates over whether to deny naturalization rights.

As Texas federal courts grappled with the issue, policies pertaining to Mexican immigrants came to reflect evolving political ideologies on both sides of the border.

Drawing on unprecedented historical analysis of state archives, U.S. Congressional records, and other sources of overlooked data, Naturalizing Mexican Immigrants provides a rich understanding of the realities and rhetoric that have led to present-day immigration controversies.

Martha Menchaca's groundbreaking research examines such facets as U.S.-Mexico relations following the U.S. Civil War and the schisms created by Mexican abolitionists; the anti-immigration stance that marked many suffragist appeals; the effects of the Spanish American War; distinctions made for mestizo, Afromexicano, and Native American populations; the erosion of means for U.S. citizens to legalize their relatives; and the ways in which U.S. corporations have caused the political conditions that stimulated emigration from Mexico.

The first historical study of its kind, Naturalizing Mexican Immigrants delivers a clear-eyed view of provocative issues.

A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness: Writings, 2000–2010
Paperback Duke University Press Books (May 30, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0822349779 ISBN-13: 978-0822349778
Cherríe L. Moraga

A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness features essays and poems by Cherríe L. Moraga, one of the most influential figures in Chicana/o, feminist, queer, and indigenous activism and scholarship. Combining moving personal stories with trenchant political and cultural critique, the writer, activist, teacher, dramatist, mother, daughter, comadre, and lesbian lover looks back on the first ten years of the twenty-first century.

She considers decade-defining public events such as 9/11 and the campaign and election of Barack Obama, and she explores socioeconomic, cultural, and political phenomena closer to home, sharing her fears about raising her son amid increasing urban violence and the many forms of dehumanization faced by young men of color. 

Moraga describes her deepening grief as she loses her mother to Alzheimer’s; pays poignant tribute to friends who passed away, including the sculptor Marsha Gómez and the poets Alfred Arteaga, Pat Parker, and Audre Lorde; and offers a heartfelt essay about her personal and political relationship with Gloria Anzaldúa.

Thirty years after the publication of Anzaldúa and Moraga’s collection This Bridge Called My Back, a landmark of women-of-color feminism, Moraga’s literary and political praxis remains motivated by and intertwined with indigenous spirituality and her identity as Chicana lesbian.

Yet aspects of her thinking have changed over time. A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness reveals key transformations in Moraga’s thought; the breadth, rigor, and philosophical depth of her work; her views on contemporary debates about citizenship, immigration, and gay marriage; and her deepening involvement in transnational feminist and indigenous activism. It is a major statement from one of our most important public intellectuals.

Along the River: An Anthology of Voices from the Rio Grande Valley
Paperback VAO Publishing (May 5, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0615480667 ISBN-13: 978-0615480664
David Bowles (Author), Alvaro Rodríguez (Contributor)

These unique voices combine in a harmony of Mexican and American, of magical and ordinary, of tragedy and triumph. From established writers to emerging talents, the contributors to this volume represent the depth and beauty of a community that is just beginning to make itself heard. 

The collection features the short story "The Time About the Dog" by Álvaro Rodríguez, co-screenwriter of the recent film Machete.

Mexican Women and the Other Side of Immigration: Engendering Transnational Ties 
Paperback University of Texas Press (May 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0292728921 ISBN-13: 978-0292728929
Luz María Gordillo

Weaving narratives with gendered analysis and historiography of Mexicans in the Midwest, Mexican Women and the Other Side of Immigration examines the unique transnational community created between San Ignacio Cerro Gordo, Jalisco, and Detroit, Michigan, in the last three decades of the twentieth century, asserting that both the community of origin and the receiving community are integral to an immigrant's everyday life, though the manifestations of this are rife with contradictions.

Exploring the challenges faced by this population since the inception of the Bracero Program in 1942 in constantly re-creating, adapting, accommodating, shaping, and creating new meanings of their environments, Luz María Gordillo emphasizes the gender-specific aspects of these situations.

While other studies of Mexican transnational identity focus on social institutions, Gordillo's work introduces the concept of transnational sexualities, particularly the social construction of working-class sexuality.

Her findings indicate that many female San Ignacians shattered stereotypes, transgressing traditionally male roles while their husbands lived abroad. When the women themselves immigrated as well, these transgressions facilitated their adaptation in Detroit.

Placed within the larger context of globalization, Mexican Women and the Other Side of Immigration is a timely excavation of oral histories, archival documents, and the remnants of three decades of memory.

LEAVING HOME [Kindle Edition]
Lionel G. Garcia (Author)
Format: Kindle Edition File Size: 576 KB
Publisher: Amazon.com; 1 edition (May 2, 2011) Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English ASIN: B004Z1DITA
Lending: Enabled

Winner: PEN Discovery Prize 1983. Pulitzer Prize Nominee. A broke and aging former baseball pitcher, a veteran of WW1, who never married but had numerous affairs and illegitimate children is down and out living with his widowed cousin, Maria.

Never one to stay in one place he decides to leave to find someone who once loved him, who may want to take care of him in his old age. There are many unusual and comic characters in this tragic-comic book. The novel is about the people he meets on his journey.The time is WW2 and many young men are being killed, including Maria's,son. It is also about the many poor men and women from small communities that were drafted to go see the world and risk their lives. The setting is southern California.

Sonnets and Salsa [Kindle Edition]
Carmen Tafolla (Author)
Format: Kindle Edition File Size: 1273 KB
Print Length: 128 pages Publisher: Wings Press; 2nd edition (May 10, 2011)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services Language: English
ASIN: B00507GEH6 Lending: Enabled

This major poetry collection is a fearless depiction of a Latina living in the best and worst of times.

What You See in the Dark
Hardcover Algonquin Books (March 29, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1565125339 ISBN-13: 978-1565125339
Manuel Munoz

Bakersfield, California, in the late 1950s is a dusty, quiet town too far from Los Angeles to share that city’s energy yet close enough to Hollywood to fill its citizens with the kinds of dreams they discover in the darkness of the movie theater.

For Teresa, a young, aspiring singer who works at a shoe store, dreams lie in the music her mother shared with her, plaintive songs of love and longing. In Dan Watson, the most desirable young man in Bakersfield, she believes she has found someone to help her realize those dreams.

When a famous actress arrives from Hollywood with a great and already legendary director, local gossip about Teresa and Dan gives way to speculation about the celebrated visitors, there to work on what will become an iconic, groundbreaking film of madness and murder at a roadside motel. No one anticipates how the ill-fated love affair between Dan and Teresa will soon rival anything the director could ever put on the screen.

This thoroughly original work is intense and fascinating in its juxtapositions of tenderness and menace, violence and regret, played out in a town on the brink of change.

The Guadalupe Saints
Paperback Paraguas Books LLP (April 28, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0956578640 ISBN-13: 978-0956578648
Michael M. Pacheco

Tony Guadalupe feels out of place at his high school.

He soon learns that his life is ineluctably woven with one of the great visionaries of Mexican history, Juan Diego, the indigenous peasant who first envisioned Our Lady of Guadalupe.

A direct descendant of Juan Diego, Tony Guadalupe must confront his unknown past and accept both his burdens and gifts, a journey undertaken in different ways by his grandfather and his father. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church seeks to disempower the Guadalupes, whose shamanistic lineage connects them to the Aztec goddess Tonantzin.

Here Lies Lalo: The Collected Poems of Abelardo Delgado
Paperback Arte Publico Pr; Bilingual edition (April 30, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1558856943 ISBN-13: 978-1558856943
Abelardo "Lalo" Delgado

"Stupid America, remember that chicanito / flunking math and English / he is the Picasso / of your western states / but he will die / with one thousand masterpieces / hanging only from his mind." In his poem, "Stupid America," Chicano activist poet Abelardo "Lalo Delgado decries the lack of opportunity faced by his people: children let down by the educational system; artists and poets unable to express their creativity. "That chicano / with a big knife / he doesn t want to knife you / he wants to sit down on a bench / and carve ... / but you won t let him."

Known as the "poet laureate de Aztlan" and called "the grandfather of Chicano literature" in his 2004 obituary in The New York Times, Delgado used his words to fight for justice and equal opportunity for people of Mexican descent living in the United States.

A twelve-year-old when he emigrated from northern Mexico to El Paso, Texas, Delgado's development as a poet and writer coincided with the Chicano Civil Rights movement, and so his poems both reflect the suffering of the oppressed and are a call to action.

"We want to let america know that she / belongs to us as much as we belong in turn to her / by now we have learned to talk / and want to be in good speaking terms / with all that is america."

Available for the first time to mainstream audiences, Delgado's poems included in this landmark volume were written between 1969 and 2001, and are in Spanish, English, and a combination of both languages. While many of his poems protest mistreatment and discrimination, especially as experienced by farm workers, many others focus on love of family and for the land and traditions of his people.

Delgado wrote and self-published 14 books of poetry--none of which are available today--and five of them are included in this long-awaited volume. These poems by a pioneering Chicano poet and revolutionary are a must-read for anyone interested in the Chicano Civil Rights movement and the origins of Chicano literature.

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