Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More Latino Authors Please/ necesitamos mas autores Latinos (Updated)

After reading Mayra Lazara Dole's article "Authentic Latino Voices" in the Hunger Mountain Journal.
I felt inspired to write something about the lack of middle grade and young adult Latino authors. I found 14 MG/YA books by Latino authors published this year in the United States. Since I originally posted this I have been informed of two more Latino authors published in 2010. Thanks Edi

1 The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork
2.The Firefly Letters by Margarita Engle
3.The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan
4.Mr. Mendonza's Paintbursh by Luis Alberto Urrea
5 Secret Saturdays by Torrey Maldonado
6 The F Factor by Diane Gonzales Bertrand
7.The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez
8.Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes
9.90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis
10 Efrain's Secret by Sofia Quintero
11 How Tia Lola Learned to Teach by Julia Alvarez
12 I Will Save You by Matt de la Pena
13 The Good Long Way by Rene Saldana Jr
14.When the Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer

Please take a moment to really think about that,

14 Latino authors

I am willing concede that I may have missed ( I did) or been unaware of a few authors . Even if the number was tripled, that would only make 42, still far from respectable.

16 authors is no where near 42, but hopefully this list will contiunue to grow.

I know this is a silly question, that will only make me angry if I think about it too long. Yet, I still can't help but wonder how this can happen?

In her article Laraza Dole stresses the need for more distinct and diverse stories told by Latino authors.

"Our common Spanish language is a tool that helps Latino kids and teens unite, but they also need to feel proud of their diversity and unique customs. When the media, journal reviewers and publishers list books as “Latino” or “Hispanic,” instead of, let’s say, Cuban-American or Nicaraguan-American, it leads children and teens to believe our culture and celebrations are identical. Once, when an Anglo teen found out I was born in Cuba, she asked me if my family celebrated Cinco de Mayo and El Dia de los Muertos, celebrations that aren’t Cuban."

Quinceanera novels are nice but I can only read so many. I think we are at a point where more diverse stories should be welcomed and encouraged. Though until that acutally happens race based awards like the Pura Belpre will continue to necessary.

Banned Book Week. September 25 - Oct 2 is a very big deal. Much online space is dedicated to it. This year, at the Huffington post there was an article about 15 movies based off of banned books. There was also an article about it at LA Times. . There's so much more. When I see all this it makes me wonder, what if people truly got behind the cause to get more authentic voices in children's literature. What if online media and bloggers spent a week reviewing, talking about and listing books by Latino authors and other underrepresented groups.

Disallowing, a people the ability to tell their own story is a form a censorship. Just because this problem isn't as sexy, popular or easily discussed doesn't mean it should be ignored.

I like my voice well enough but for this I wanted to give a few Latino authors the opportunity to be heard. So I reached out to a few authors, and some were kind enough to answer 3 questions or give a statement. Initially, I had planned to post all the answers as one.

Now I know each response should stand alone, giving everyone the chance to really take them in. I won't reveal which author participated until I post their responses. I will post the first one Wednesday at 9:00am. The next Thursday at 9:00 am, and so on. This should run for about a week. I hope you enjoy and spread the word.


Zetta said...

This is so disheartening...I've actually got 2 Amigas books by Chambers on my list, so now you're up to 15. Sigh.

Maggie Desmond-O'Brien said...

This is incredibly disheartening. I've got LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS and THE DREAMER off this list, and am dying for THE RED UMBRELLA. I thought I was so narrow-minded in only having 3, but I guess not. 3 of 14? If I could read that percentage in any other genre/specialized area I'd be thrilled. "More Latino authors please" is right!

Vasilly said...

How crazy is this?! I had no idea. 14 books while there are millions of Latino kids in this country. How can we, as adults, look them in their eyes and this armful of books is all that the publishing industry is offering them this year? Ridiculous.

Doret said...

Zetta - Thanks for letting me know about the other Chambers novels. I will add it to the list.

It will be 15 titles but still only 14 authors.

Maggie - Looking at these numbers broke my readers heart

Vasilly its crazy sad and beyond ridiculous.

Em said...

Excited to read these. Saddened that I could easily do so before the new year with no head start.

Helen's Book Blog said...

I am so glad you've written this post! I am always looking for good latino/latina writers so I look forward to reading your future posts with the authors themselves. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for spreading the word Doret!

Jodie said...

Hell. I mean that is so much worse than Zetta's numbers and they were not exactly great.

I like your idea about every blogger taking a week to just post about books by under represented books, but I think it needs a blogger from within one of the under represented groups to set it up. I know some people do not love specific cultural months and weeks that focus on specific groups so as a blogger who is white I'd be reluctant to try to encourage a specific week like that in case I offended people, but if someone more knowledgeable where to pick a week and set it up I'd follow as much as possible.

Anonymous said...

here via Zetta's blog. i guessed the number would be small, but was saddened by how small.

thanks for this post and the list. and am on board for any blogosphere activities organized.


Anonymous said...

I'll check my list later and see if I have a few more titles, but like you said, it won't be that many more. The numbers are no better for YA than for MG and no better for Asians or Native Americans, either. The thing is: THESE KIDS LIKE TO READ! Don't tell me the books aren't there because they don't read. Doret, you research this stuff so well, next we need to look at the numbers of POC in publishing. I think before, we only looked at Blacks. I think??

Anonymous said...

In addition to finding broken links on my blog, I found these titles to add to your list:

Camino del sol: 15 years of latino and latina writing by Rigoberto Gonzales

F Factor by Diane Gonzalez

Bertrand; Arte Publico Press, April

The possibilities of sainthood by Donna Freitas; 17 Aug YA

Black Hole Sun by David Macinnis Gil; Harper Collisn, Aug 2010

A good long way by René Saldaña; Arte Publico Press, Oc

Doret said...

Jodie - the big question is how to make a week of reading under represented authors seem like the thing to do.

Thanks Edi - I will add the two authors to the list.If we hit the 20 author mark we should have a fiesta.

Rigoberto Gonzales, title is classified as adult NF

Donna Freitas title was first released in 2008.

I don't think David Macinnis Gil is Latino. Though please someone correct me if I am wrong.

Jodie said...

Doret that's a good question. I can think of a couple of tactics that might work. My first suggestion would be gathering together a big prize pack of desirable book goodies (from authors in under represented groups) and every time you review a book in that week you get an entry into the prize draw - but I know when the poc challenge was being set up there were objections to including prizes, not sure if I'm remembering why rightly but I think it might have been that incentivising doing what was right seemed wrong.

Another way might be to advertise it as like a community carnival (with a Mr Linky that people can pop between) where participants only need to review one book on one specific day. Make it seem like an easy chance to find new books and at the same time new blogs (make a connection with new bloggers who can give you fab new book recommendations). Kind of get a party atmosphere going.

Another idea might be to ask bloggers who are already committed to reading authors from under represented groups to gather a few blogging friends together and run small group reads - that makes recuitment of participants easier because it's done by friends and there's the chance for bloggers to gchat, or twitter interact which lots of people like because it feels like a fun conversations. Then everyone has to post the convo, or a reaction to the book on their blog. I don't want to suggest that whoever ran it shoudln't just be able to appeal to people's good nature with the rightness of this cause, because that should work, but I think some kind of extra motivator works wonders when you want to get a project going.

And finally - timing is everything. Right now everyon is trying to get existing reading, blogging and life commitments in, but next year everyone starts over with good intentions and any projects popping up at the begining should get a huge enthusiastic response.

Hope that adds to your own thoughts in a productive manner.

Doret said...

Thank you Jodie and it does help