“Hermosa”, poetry, Yesika Salgado
“Black Wings”, Sehba Sarwar
“Blood Sugar Canto”, poetry, ire’ne lara silva
“Teresa d’Avila: ecstasy and common sense”, by Tessa Bielecki
“VirginX”, poetry, Natalia Treviño
“The architecture of language”, poetry, Quincy Troupe
“Codex of love: Bendita Ternura”, poetry, Liliana Valenzuela (I’m re-reading this)
“Their dogs came with them”, novel, Helena María Viramontes (Proofreading also)
What’s the last great book you read?
The one I’m reading now; “Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment,” by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, a story of how the United States evolved until we were as a nation besieged by gun violence. It’s not the kind of book I usually read, but I loved his previous book, “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States”; reading it was like going back to school and gaining a new perspective on the Americas, a perspective that reclaimed the lost history of my ancestors. I am on a mission to fill the huge gaps in my poor upbringing as a woman of color.
Are there any classic novels that you only recently read for the first time?
“The Nine Guardians,” by Rosario Castellanos, a beautiful novel about a village on the Mexican-Guatemalan border during the turbulent power changes of the 1930s. Castellanos is one of the most brilliant writers of the last century, but when the Latin American literature boom hit the United States, only male voices were heard. At this point in my life, I want to read the classics of the Americas, Mexico, women, working class, indigenous communities, anyone who has not been allowed to stand on the podium before.
Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how).
I prefer to read lying down supported by a sea of pillows, like a famous large horizontal, in bed or on the terrace, on a lounge chair or in a hammock, or simply on the sofa; preferably on a day when no one rings the doorbell, which is almost impossible, because in Mexico, everyone ring the bell. The flower seller, the donut man, the water man, the sweet potato man, the knife sharpener, the woman who asks to sweep your driveway, the man who got laid off and seeks work as a gardener, the gentle country couple with fresh tortillas and prickly pear paddles, the man who sells woolen snakes to protect themselves from drafts. I am fortunate to be able to work from home and not have to ring the doorbell, so I have no right to complain.
What’s your favorite book that no one else has heard of?
My favorites are “Maud Martha” by Gwendolyn Brooks and “The Time of the Doves” by Mercé Rodoreda, two books that deal with war, although the first only appears in the finale. Come to think of it, many of my favorite books are about women surviving or going to war – “Here’s to You, Jesusa! By Elena Poniatowska, a mixture of fiction and non-fiction about a Mexican warrior; “Cartucho” and “My Mother’s Hands”, two remembrance stories by Nellie Campobello that bear witness to war from a child’s point of view; “Recollections of Things to Come”, a novel by Elena Garro, which documents the Cristero war in Mexico in the 1920s; “The Storm Over Mexico”, a memoir by Rosa King, a foreigner who witnessed the main actors of the Mexican Revolution; and “A Woman in Berlin”, a brutal memoir of the sacking of Berlin by a writer too frightened to publish under any name other than Anonymous. With the exception of “Maud Martha” and “Tempest Over Mexico” they were all written in a foreign language, with some translations being better than others. These are not your typical war stories.