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WEEK OF December 28th, 2003

Waiting for Snow in Havana: Confessions of a Cuban Boy  By Carlos Eire. Free Press, January 2004.

In 1962, at the age of eleven, Carlos Eire was one of 14,000 children airlifted out of Cuba, his parents left behind. His life until then is the subject of Waiting for Snow in Havana, a wry, heartbreaking, intoxicatingly beautiful memoir of growing up in a privileged Havana household -- and of being exiled from his own childhood by the Cuban revolution.  Narrated with the urgency of a confession, Waiting for Snow in Havana is both an exorcism and an ode to a paradise lost. More than that, it captures the terrible beauty of those times in our lives when we are certain we have died -- and then are somehow, miraculously, reborn.

WEEK OF December 21st, 2003

Producing Dreams, Consuming Youth: Mexican Amerians and Mass Media  By Vicki Mayer, Rutgers University Press, November 2003.

Producing Dreams, Consuming Youth takes us behind the scenes in San Antonio, Texas, a major market for Mexican American popular culture. Through the voices of those who produce and consume mass media, we see how the media brings together communities of Mexican Americans as they pursue cultural dreams, identification, and empowerment. At the heart of this book is a debate about the future of Mexican American media, and thus of the youth market. How do media professionals imagine ethnic youths? How do young Mexican Americans accept, negotiate, and resist these images of themselves? 

WEEK OF December 14th, 2003

New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone  By Raquel Rivera.  Published by Palgrae Macmillan, January 2003.

New York Puerto Ricans have been an integral part of hip hop culture since the very beginning: from 1970s pioneers like Rock Steady Crew's Jo-Jo, to recent rap mega-stars Big Punisher and Angie Martinez. Yet, Puerto Rican participation and contributions to hip hop is frequently downplayed, if not completely ignored. When their presence has been acknowledged, it is usually misinterpreted as a defection from Puerto Rican culture and identity into the African American camp. But, Rivera argues, nothing could be further from the truth. Through hip hop, Puerto Ricans have simply stretched the boundaries of Puerto Ricanness and latinidad.

WEEK OF December 7th, 2003

Money To Burn  By Ricardo Piglia.  Published by Granta Books, November 2003.

Love and betrayal complicate a robbery gone wrong in this edgy true-crime novel based on a 1965 Argentine bank robbery. There's the drama of the botched raid itself, followed by a blowout afterparty, an attempted double-crossing of the corrupt local authorities, and a final shootout where, as a last act of rebellion, the robbers burn all the loot. This gritty tale has been adapted for a major motion picture by renowned Argentine director Marcelo Pinyero.

WEEK OF November 30th, 2003

Mexico City in Contemporary Mexican Cinema  By David William Foster.  Published by University of Texas Press, June 2002.

Just as Mexican national life has come to centre on the sprawling, dynamic, almost indefinable metropolis of Mexico City, so recent Mexican cinema has focused on the city not merely as a setting for films but almost as a protagonist in its own right, whose conditions both create meaning for and receive meaning from the human lives lived in its midst.  Through close readings of 14 critically acclaimed films, this book watches Mexican cinema in this process of producing cultural meaning through its creation, enaction, and interpretation of the idea of Mexico City. David William Foster analyses how Mexican filmmakers have used Mexico City as a vehicle for exploring such issues as crime, living space, street life, youth culture, political and police corruption, safety hazards, gender roles, and ethnic and social identities.

WEEK OF November 23rd, 2003

The Language of Passion: Selected Commentary  By Mario Llosa Vargas.  Published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, June 2003.

Since 1977, Mario Vargas Llosa has contributed a biweekly column to Spain’s major newspaper, El País. Dubbed “Touchstone,” and read in syndication by Spanish-speaking readers around the globe, the column is renowned—in some circles, notorious—for skewering the excesses of the Latin American left and championing classic liberalism and free-market democracy. In this collection of columns from the 1990s, Vargas Llosa weighs in on the burning questions of the last decade, including the travails of Latin American democracy, the role of religion in civic life, and the future of globalization.  But Vargas Llosa’s influence is hardly limited to politics. In some of the liveliest critical writing of his career, he makes a pilgrimage to Bob Marley’s shrine in Jamaica, celebrates the sexual abandon of Carnival in Rio, and examines the legacy of Vermeer, Bertolt Brecht, Frida Kahlo, and Octavio Paz, among others.

WEEK OF November 16th, 2003

Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerrillas By Elijah Ward.  Published by RAYO, November 2001.

In the first full-length exploration of the contemporary Mexican corrido, award-winning author Elijah Wald blends a travel narrative with his search for the roots of this unusual and controversial genre -- a modern outlaw music that blends the sensibilities of medieval ballads with the edgy grit of gangsta rap. While opening up a rich musical world, this book paints a picture of modern Mexican culture as it is seen by the people in the streets: raw and romantic, old fashioned and revolutionary, violent and poetic.

The corrido genre is famous for its hard-bitten songs of drug traffickers and gunfights, and also functions as a sort of musical newspaper, singing of government corruption, the lives of immigrants in the United States, and the battles of the Zapatista rebellion in Chiapas. Since the days of the Mexican Revolution, corridos have been the musical voice of the poor and oppressed, but also a sensational actiongenre that has spawned dozens of his movies and has been attacked by conservative politiciana and anti-drug crusaders. Through largely unknown to English speakers, corridos top the Latin charts and dominate radio playlists both in the United States and points south.


WEEK OF November 9th, 2003

The Movies of My Life  By Alberto Fuguet.  Published by RAYO, October 2003.

Beltrán Soler is from Chile, a land in constant movement. A seismologist who knows more about the science of tectonic plate movement than about life, he is cocooned in a world of seismic data, scientific articles, and natural disasters. Beltrán believes he can protect himself from the world around him by losing himself to theoretical pursuits, but thousands of feet above the ground he so meticulously analyzes, on a flight to L.A. -- the capital of film and the city in which he was raised -- he has a conversation that sparks in him a firestorm of nostalgia. Suddenly, Beltrán finds himself recalling the fifty most important movies of his life -- films both precious and absurd that affected him during his childhood and adolescence in the 1960s and '70s.


WEEK OF November 2nd, 2003

Spare Parts  By Rámon Zayas.  Published by PublishAmerica, October 2003.

“I was inspired to write Spare Parts after viewing movies like Traffic, 28 Days and Raising Arizona to name a few. I was inspired because those movies told a story about hardships, self-inspection, rejection, forgiveness and recovery.  Spare Parts is not a 12 step guide to recovery but rather an all encompassing look at personal tragedy and the skill sets required to overcome them.”


WEEK OF October 26th, 2003

Havana: Two Faces of the Antillean Metropolis
By Joseph L. Scarpaci, Roberto Segre and Mario Coyula.  University of North Carolina Press, 2002..

One of the oldest and most celebrated cities in the Western Hemisphere, Havana is a fascinating metropolis where history has left its handprint on every corner. Here, an international trio of well-known architects and planners offer an insightful introduction to Havana's historic architecture and modern buildings, its social and economic fabric, its diverse people, and its contemporary challenges and opportunities.  From the colonial and early republican periods, through the 1959 revolution, and into the post-Soviet era and today, the authors trace Havana's physical evolution and place it in the context of important political, economic, and cultural developments.


WEEK OF October 19th, 2003

Understanding Mainland Puerto Rican Poverty   By Susan S. Baker.  Temple University Press, 2002.

The book tells the story of how Puerto Ricans have left the Rustbelt cities to return to the island or to seek job opportunities elsewhere. Those left behind are predominantly poor women with dependents who live in segregated neighborhoods with little chance of finding low-skilled jobs because of competition from non-citizen, non-politicized workers.

In her alternative explanation, the author presents data from across the country and puts forth an explanation that is grounded in Puerto Rican history and sensitive not only to the interconnectedness of the island and mainland population, but also the increasing distress faced by Puerto Rican women and the sad truth that Puerto Rican citizenship in this country is a second class one.


WEEK OF October 12th, 2003

The Pinochet File:  A Declassified Dossier on Accountability and Atrocity   Edited by Peter Kornbluh.  New Press, 2003.

In the United States, as you know, we are sympathetic with what you are trying to do here....We want to help, not undermine you.—Henry Kissinger speaking confidentially to General Augusto Pinochet.

Published on the 30th anniversary of General Pinochet's military coup, this is a compendium of declassified documents that reveal the startling facts behind US collusion with the notorious Chilean dictator.  The Pinochet File makes public many of the key and formerly secret records of the atrocity and complicity that are at the heart of the international campaign to hold this Chilean general legally accountable for murder, torture, and terrorism.


WEEK OF October 5th, 2003

Virtually Virgins:  Sexual Strategies and Cervical Cancer in Recife, Brazil   By Jessica Gregg.  Stanford University Press, 2003.

Gregg examines the conflict between cultural ideals of Brazilian women's sexuality and the lived reality of sex for impoverished women in a favela in the city of Recife in Brazil.  She also explores the interplay between sexual expectations, sexual reality, and disease.  The study also helps to understand the causes and consequences of high rates of cervical cancer.


WEEK OF September 28th, 2003

Once a King, Always a King   By Reymundo Sanchez.  Chicago Review Press, 2003.

This riveting sequel to My Bloody Life traces Reymundo Sanchez's struggle to create a "normal" life outside the Latin Kings, one of the nation's most notorious street gangs, and to move beyond his past. Sanchez illustrates how the Latin King motto "once a king, always a king" rings true and details the difficulty and danger of leaving that life behind. Filled with heartpounding scenes of his backslide into drugs, sex, and violence, Once a King, Always a King recounts how Sanchez wound up in prison and provides an engrossing firsthand account of how the Latin Kings are run from inside the prison system. Harrowing testaments to Sanchez's determination to rebuild his life include his efforts to separate his family from gang life and his struggle to adapt to marriage and the corporate world. Despite temptations, nightmares, regressions into violence, and his own internal demons, Sanchez makes an uneasy peace with his new life.


WEEK OF September 21st, 2003

Soccer in Sun and Shadow   By Eduardo Galeano.  Verso Books, 2003.

Eduardo Galeano seeks out the mystical and the bewitched, the romance and the emotional destitution experienced by players and fans the world round. Here is a story of love and death: of the suicide of Abdon Porte, who shot himself in the center circle of the National Stadium; of the Argentine manager who wouldn't let his team eat chicken because it would bring bad luck; of the Russian goalkeeper who prepared his min and soothed his nerves with a cigarette and a dash of vodka before each game.  Published in the run-up to the 1998 World Cup, this is the glory of soccer in all its international hues, with its multilingual cries of despair, victory and passion. 


WEEK OF September 14th, 2003

Chile: The Other September 11   Edited by Pilar Aguilera and Ricardo Fredes.  Ocean Press, 2002..

Amidst the flood of books on 9/11, the editors remind readers that September 11 is the anniversary of another horrendous event -- -General Pinochet's coup against the democratically elected government of President Salvador Allende. Includes articles, essays, speeches and poems by Ariel Dorfman, Salvador Allende, Pablo Neruda, Beatriz Allende, Victor Jara, Muriel Rukeyser and Fidel Castro.


WEEK OF September 7th, 2003

Contentious Lives: Two Argentine Women, Two Protests, and the Quest for Recognition   Javier Auyero.  Seven Stories Press 2002.

Contentious Lives examines the ways popular protests are experienced and remembered, individually and collectively, by those who participate in them. Javier Auyero focuses on the roles of two young women, Nana and Laura, in uprisings in Argentina (the two-day protest in the northwestern city of Santiago del Estero in 1993 and the six-day road blockade in the southern oil towns of Cutral-co and Plaza Huincul in 1996) and the roles of the protests in their lives. Laura was the spokesperson of the picketers in Cutral-co and Plaza Huincul; Nana was an activist in the 1993 protests. In addition to exploring the effects of these episodes on their lives, Auyero considers how each woman's experiences shaped what she said and did during the uprisings, and later, the ways she recalled the events. While the protests were responses to the consequences of political corruption and structural adjustment policies, they were also, as Nana’s and Laura’s stories reveal, quests for recognition, respect, and dignity.


WEEK OF August 31st, 2003

Exorcising Terror: The Incredible Unending Trial of Augusto Pinochet   Ariel Dorfman.  Seven Stories Press 2002.

Exiled Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman chronicles the crimes of Augusto Pinochet, the former dictator of Chile. He begins with the 1973 U.S.-supported coup that brought Pinochet to power and the devastation it caused in Latin America, and follows the story through Pinochet’s arrest and detention in London, where he awaits extradition to be tried on charges of genocide.


WEEK OF August 24th, 2003

Silence on the Mountain: Stories of Terror, Betrayal, and Forgetting in Guatemala  By Daniel Wilkinson.  Houghton Mifflin 2002.

This profound book traces the history of Guatemala's 36-year internal struggle through personal interviews that recount the heart-wrenching stories of plantation owners, army officials, guerrillas and the wretchedly poor peasants stuck in the middle. Wilkinson's narrative unfolds gradually, beginning with his quest to unlock the mysteries of the short-lived 1952 Law of Agrarian Reform, which saw the redistribution of land to the working class. He goes on to explain many of the causes and consequences of the country's political and social problems. At one point, Wilkinson vividly describes how the entire town of Sacuchum uncharacteristically gathered to recount for him and thus record for the outside world how the army raped, tortured and massacred members of the community because they were believed to have supported the guerrillas. Much of what's revealed in Wilkinson's account of the country's trials is hard to stomach, especially his description of CIA involvement in Guatemala.


WEEK OF August 17th, 2003

Down by the River : Drugs, Money, Murder, and Family  By Charles Bowden.  Simon & Schuster, 2002.

In January 1995, Lionel Bruno Jordan was shot dead in the parking lot of a K-Mart in El Paso, Texas. A police investigation concluded that it was a botched carjacking; a 13-year-old Mexican was charged and convicted. From this personal story comes the entire history of drug smuggling on the US-Mexico border, all the way up to then Mexican president Carlos Salinas.


WEEK OF August 10th, 2003

Border Radio : Quacks, Yodelers, Pitchmen, Psychics, and Other Amazing Broadcasters of the American Airwaves  By Gene Fowler and Bill Crawford.  University of Texas Press, 2002.

Before the Internet brought the world together, there was border radio. These mega-watt "border blaster" stations, set up just across the Mexican border to evade U.S. regulations, beamed programming across the United States.  This book traces the eventful history of border radio from its founding in the 1930s by "goat-gland doctor" J. R. Brinkley to the glory days of Wolfman Jack in the 1960s.  Along the way, it shows how border broadcasters pioneered direct sales advertising, helped prove the power of electronic media as a political tool, aided in spreading the popularity of country music, rhythm and blues, and rock, and laid the foundations for today's electronic church.


WEEK OF August 3rd, 2003

Systems of Violence: The Political Economy of War and Peace in Colombia  By Nazih Richani.  State University of New York Press.  2002.

This work examines the political, economic, and military factors that have contributed to thirty-seven years of protracted violent conflict in Colombia. Using four years of field research, and more than 200 interviews, Nazih Richani examines Colombia's war system-the systemic interlacing relationship among actors in conflict, their respective political economy, and also the overall political economy of the system they help in creating. Two key questions are raised: Why do some conflicts protract, and when they do protract, what type of socioeconomic and political configurations make peaceful resolutions difficult to obtain? Also addressed are the lessons of other protracted conflicts, such as those found in Lebanon, Angola, and Italy.


WEEK OF July 27th, 2003

Tortilleras: Hispanic and U.S. Latina Lesbian Expression  Edited by Inmaculada Perpetusa-Seva and Lourdes Torres.Temple University Press, 2003.

The first anthology to focus exclusively on queer readings of Spanish, Latin American, and US Latina lesbian literature and culture, Tortilleras interrogates issues of gender, national identity, race, ethnicity, and class to show the impossibility of projecting a singular Hispanic or Latina Lesbian. Examining carefully the works of a range of lesbian writers and performance artists, including Carmelita Tropicana and Christina Peri Rossi, among others, the contributors create a picture of the complicated and multi-textured contributions of Latina and Hispanic lesbians to literature and culture. More than simply describing this sphere of creativity, the contributors also recover from history the long, veiled existence of this world, exposing its roots, its impact on lesbian culture, and, making the power of lesbian performance and literature visible.


WEEK OF July 20th, 2003

Cuba On The Verge: An Island In Transition  Edited by Terry McCoy and William Kennedy.  Bulfinch Press, 2003.

While the world ponders Cuba's future, and the United States weighs the effects of the trade embargo imposed more than 40 years ago, Cubans go about their everyday lives overcoming obstacles with a mixture of about their everyday lifes overcoming obstacles with a mixture of ingenuity, intelligence, perseverance, and above all else, a sense of humor.  How does this transitional moment in the island's history find expression in the lives of the Cuban people? What do the social, cultural, and personal landscapes of Cuba look and feel like today?


WEEK OF July 13th, 2003

Mexifornia: A State of Becoming  By Victor Hanson Davis.  Encounter Books, 2003.

Mexifornia is an intensely personal look at what has changed in California over the last quarter century. Hanson's focus is on how not only California, the Southwest, and indeed the entire nation has been affected by America's hemorrhaging borders and how those hurt worst are the Mexican immigrants themselves.  Hanson writes wistfully about his own growing up in the Central Valley when he was one of a handful of non-Hispanics in his elementary school and when his teachers saw it as their mission to give all students, Hispanic and "white" alike, a passport to the American Dream. He follows the fortunes of Hispanic friends he has known all his life--how they have succeeded in America and how they regard the immigration crisis. But if "Mexifornia" is emotionally generous at the strength and durability of the groups that have made California strong, it is also an indictment of the policies that got California into its present mess. But in the end, Hanson strongly believes that our traditions of assimilation, integration, and intermarriage may yet remedy a problem that the politicians and ideologues have allowed to get out of hand.


WEEK OF July 6th, 2003

¡Cubanismo!: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Cuban Literature  By Cristina Garcia.  Vintage Books, 2003.

¡Cubanísimo! is the first book to gather Cuban stories, essays, poems and novel excerpts in one volume that summarizes the richness and depth of a great national literature. From the turn of the century to the present, from Havana to Miami, New York, Mexico City, Madrid and beyond, the spirit and diversity of Cuban cultureconverge in one vibrant literary jam session.  Cristina García has ingeniously grouped her selections according to “the music of their sentences” into five sections named for Cuban dance styles.


WEEK OF June 29th, 2003

The Puerto Rican Nation on the Move: Identities on the Island and in the United States  By Jorge Duany.  University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

Jorge Duany uses previously untapped primary sources to bring new insights to questions of Puerto Rican identity, nationalism, and migration. Drawing a distinction between political and cultural nationalism, Duany argues that the Puerto Rican "nation" must be understood as a new kind of translocal entity with deep cultural continuities. He documents a strong sharing of culture between island and mainland, with diasporic communities tightly linked to island life by a steady circular migration. Duany explores the Puerto Rican sense of nationhood by looking at cultural representations produced by Puerto Ricans and considering how others--American anthropologists, photographers, and museum curators, for example--have represented the nation.


WEEK OF June 22nd, 2003

More Terrible than Death: Massacres, Drugs, and America's War in Colombia
By Robin Kirk.  Public Affairs Press, 2003.

Robin Kirk maps the social, political, economic, and human devastation wrought by the drug war in Colombia. She limns the dramatic new relationship between the United States and Colombia in human terms--through her own experiences and through portraits of the Colombians and Americans involved--and offers an insider's analysis of the political realities that shape the expanding war on drugs and the growing U.S. military presence there.

Looking at the war from the ground up, interviewing and profiling human rights activists, guerrillas, and paramilitaries to explain how it has changed their lives, Kirk combines the reportorial skills of Mark Bowden or Tina Rosenberg with the impeccable credentials of a seasoned human rights investigator for Human Rights Watch, the world's leading human rights organization, to give depth and meaning to today's headlines.


WEEK OF June 15th, 2003

The Dirty Girls Social Club: A Novel  By Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez.  St. Martin's Press, 2003.

Inseparable since their days at Boston University almost ten years before, six friends form the Dirty Girls Social Club, a mutual support and (mostly) admiration society that no matter what happens to each of them (and a lot does), meets regularly to dish, dine and compare notes on the bumpy course of life and love.  Las sucias are:

--Lauren, the resident “caliente” columnist for the local paper, which advertises her work with the line “her casa is su casa, Boston”, but whose own home life has recently involved hiding in her boyfriend’s closet to catch him in the act
--Sara, the perfect wife and mother who always knew exactly the life she wanted and got it, right down to the McMansion in the suburbs and two boisterious boys, but who is paying a hefty price
--Amber, the most idealistic and artistic member of the club, who was raised a valley girl without a word of Spanish and whose increasing attachment to her Mexica roots coincides with a major record label’s interest in her rock ‘n’ roll
--Elizabeth, the stunning black Latina whose high profile job as a morning television anchor conflicts with her intensely private personal life, which would explain why the dates the other dirty girls set her up on never work out
--Rebecca, intense and highly controlled, who flawlessly runs Ella, the magazine she created for Latinas, but who can’t explain why she didn’t understand the man she married and now doesn’t even share a room with; and
--Usnavys, irrepressible and larger than life, whose agenda to land the kind of man who can keep her in Manolo Blahniks and platanos almost prevents her seeing true love when it lands in her lap.


WEEK OF June 8th, 2003

The Politics of Market Reform in Fragile Democracies: Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and Venezuela  By Kurt Weyland.  Princeton University Press, 2002.

Why do some leaders of fragile democracies attain political success--culminating in reelection victories--when pursuing drastic, painful economic reforms while others see their political careers implode?  Kurt Weyland examines, in particular, the surprising willingness of presidents in four Latin American countries to enact daring reforms and the unexpected resultant popular support.  

In Latin America, Weyland finds, where the public faced an open crisis it backed draconian reforms. And where such reforms yielded an apparent economic recovery, many citizens and their leaders perceived prospects of gains. Successful leaders thus won reelection and the new market model achieved political sustainability.


WEEK OF June 1st, 2003

Mexico Reader: History, Culture and Politics  Edited by Gilbert M. Joseph and Timothy J. Henderson.  Duke University Press, 2003.

The Mexico Reader is a vivid introduction to muchos Méxicos—the many Mexicos, or the many varied histories and cultures that comprise contemporary Mexico.  A diverse collection of more than eighty selections, The Mexico Reader brings together poetry, folklore, fiction, polemics, photoessays, songs, political cartoons, memoirs, satire, and scholarly writing. Many pieces are by Mexicans, and a substantial number appear for the first time in English. Works by Octavio Paz and Carlos Fuentes are included along with pieces about such well-known figures as the larger-than-life revolutionary leaders Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata; there is also a comminiqué from a more recent rebel, Subcomandante Marcos. At the same time, the book highlights the perspectives of many others—indigenous peoples, women, politicians, patriots, artists, soldiers, rebels, priests, workers, peasants, foreign diplomats, and travelers.


WEEK OF May 25th, 2003

Miraculous Air: Journal of a Thousand Miles Through Baja California, The Other Mexico  By C.M. Mayo.  University of Utah Press,  2002

Was it the air, or was it something else that attracted C. M. Mayo to the Baja peninsula? Whatever it was, Mayo has devoted years to traversing this land, researching it, inhaling it. The result is Miraculous Air, a travelogue that takes the reader on a remarkable journey through history, economics, literature, and politics, from mountaintop missions to beachside tourist towns. Along the way she introduces a stellar cast of intriguing characters including daredevil aviators, sea turtle researches, starving Jesuit missionaries, goat ranchers, hawkers of plastic virgins, and many more.  Sometimes awash in tackiness and poverty, often lifted by the richness of its heritage and natural beauty, Baja California is a world of contrasts.  Mayo beautifully, sometimes heartbreakingly, captures candid moments of a place and its people.


WEEK OF May 18th, 2003

Gritos: Essays  By Dagoberto Gilb.  Grove Press,  2003

"Gritos" are the exuberant cries in Mexican songs, and Gilb’s essays are charged with the same urgency, sincerity, and musicality. In a controversial piece for Harper’s, he travels to the land of his mother, where Cortes first met Malinche. In "Mi Mommy," published in The New Yorker, he tackles the myths surrounding Mexican woman, and in "Me Macho, You Jane," those surrounding men like himself. In his pieces written for NPR’s "Fresh Air," he engages the reader with scenes as vividly rendered as they are funny, intimate, and sometimes devastating.


WEEK OF May 11th, 2003

Mi Pais Inventado : Un Paseo Nostalgico por Chile; (My Invented Country: A Nostalgic Journey Through Chile in English; audio tape; unabridged audio CD)  By Isabel Allende, Rayo.  2003

In My Invented Country Allende evokes the magnificent landscape of Chile---the country she was raised in---with its charming, idiosyncratic people, violent history, and distinctive politics, myth and magic. Two life-altering events mark the narration of this book: The military coup and violent death of her uncle, Salvador Allende Gossens, on September 11, 1973, sent her into exile and transformed her into a literary writer. Then, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, on her adopted homeland, the United States, brought forth from Allende an overdue acknowledgement that she had indeed left home. The memoir speaks compellingly to immigrants, and to all of us who try to retain a coherent inner life in a world full of contradictions.


WEEK OF May 4th, 2003

Before We Were Free  By Julia Alvarez.  Knopf, 2002.

Twelve-year-old Anita de la Torre is too involved with her own life to be more than dimly aware of the growing menace all around her, until her last cousins and uncles and aunts have fled to America and a fleet of black Volkswagens comes up the drive, bringing the secret police to the family compound to search their houses. Gradually, through overheard conversations and the explanations of her older sister, Lucinda, she comes to understand that her father and uncles are involved in a plot to kill El Jefe, the dictator, and that they are all in deadly peril.


WEEK OF April 27th, 2003

The Politics of Language in Puerto Rico  By Amilcar Antonio Barreto.  University Press of Florida, 2001.

This is the first book in English to analyze the controversial language policies passed by the Puerto Rican government in the 1990s. It is also the first to explore the connections between language and cultural identity and politics on the Caribbean island. This book shows that officials in both San Juan and Washington, along with English-first groups, used the language laws as weapons in the battle over U.S.-Puerto Rican relations and the volatile debate over statehood.


WEEK OF April 20th, 2003

Global Hollywood  Edited by Toby Miller.  British Film Institute, 2001.

Why is Hollywood so successful? Overwhelming almost every other national cinema in its own 'backyard' and virtually extinguishing foreign cinema in the multicultural U.S., Hollywood seems everywhere all powerful.  This book turns to political economy, cultural studies, and cultural policy analysis to highlight the material actors underlying this apparent artistic success. Such factors include the numerous hidden subsidies to the U.S. film industry and copyright limitations concerned to prevent the free flow of information. Most of all, by relocating cultural production and through its relationship to World markets, contemporary Hollywood has transformed itself to attain ever greater global clout and reach. The authors also addresss the key areas of copyright, marketing, distribution, and exhibition that are cornerstones of the global industry apparatus.  


WEEK OF April 13th, 2003

The Argentina Reader: History, Culture, Politics  Edited by Gabriela Nouzeilles and Graciela R. Montaldo.  Duke University Press, 2003.

The Argentina Reader covers the Spanish colonial regime; the years of nation-building following Argentina’s independence from Spain in 1810; and the sweeping progress of economic growth and cultural change that made Argentina, by the turn of the twentieth century, the most modern country in Latin America. The bulk of the collection focuses on the twentieth century: on the popular movements that enabled Peronism and the revolutionary dreams of the 1960s and 1970s; on the dictatorship from 1976 to 1983 and the accompanying culture of terror and resistance; and, finally, on the contradictory and disconcerting tendencies unleashed by the principles of neoliberalism and the new global economy.


WEEK OF April 7th, 2003

Latino  By Miguel Vasquez.  Die Gestalten Verlag, 2003.

Latino is a compilation of emerging young talents from Latin America. It brings together the visual ruminations of a new generation of artists and designers who belong to a Latin American culture of the streets, beaches, music and drugs, with the beauty of a truly mixed race and a capacity to absorb cultural trends and the aesthetics of a so-called "first world".  Rejection or acceptance, their work moves from favelas, razor blades, wrestlers, priests, runes and B-movie themes to imported North American culture.  Latino aims to fill a void in this visually uncharted sub continent.


WEEK OF March 30th, 2003

Caramelo  By Sandra Cisneros.  Knopf, 2002.

From a beloved storytellter comes a  multi-generational story of a Mexican-American family whose voices create a dazzling weave of humor, passion, and poignancy --- the very stuff of life.  Lala Reyes' grandmother is descended from a family of renowned rebozo, or shawl, makers.  The striped caramelo rebozo is the most beautiful of all, and the one that makes its way, like the family history that it has come to represent into Lala's possession.  The novel opens with the Reyes' annual car trip --- a caravan overflowing with children, laughter, and quarels --- from Chicago to "the other side": Mexico City.  It is there, each year, that Lala hears her family's stories, separating teh truth from the "healthy lies" that have ricocheted from one generation to the next.


WEEK OF March 23th, 2003

Health Issues in the Latino Community  By Marilyn Aguirre-Molina, Carlos W. Molina and Ruth Enid Zambrana.  Jossey-Bass. 2001

Latinos are the largest ethnic group in the United States, but their health care issues are distinctly different and must be addressed differently.  These issues include medical insurance, access to health care, risk factors, chronic disease patterns, occupation hazards, substance abuse and so on.  This book is the most comprehensive resource on the subject.


WEEK OF March 16th, 2003

Marketing to American Latinos: A Guide to the In-Culture Approach  By M. Isabel Valdés.  PMP.  2002.

Essential reading for marketers to this rapidly growing consumer sector.  Includes demographic information, segmentation, numerous cases studies from the ACNielsen Homescane Hispanic Panel, lifestyle data, media behavior, healthcare and travel data.  The book concludes with an argument for integrated Hispanic marketing strategy, illustrated by a case study for the AARP.


WEEK OF March 9th, 2003

Random Family: : Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx  By Adrian Nicole Leblanc.  Scribner.  2003.

Random Family tells the American outlaw saga lurking behind the headlines of gangsta glamour, gold-drenched drug dealers, and street-corner society.  With an immediacy made possible only after ten years of reporting, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc immerses the reader in the mind-boggling intricacies of the little-known ghetto world.  She charts the tumultuous cycle of the generations, as girls become mothers, mothers become grandmothers, boy become criminals, and hope struggles against deprivation.


WEEK OF March 2nd, 2003

What Liberal Media?  By Eric Alterman.  Basic Books.  2003.

The question of whose interests the media protects and serve has achieved holy-grail-like significance.  Is media bias keeping us from getting the whole story?  If so, who is at fault?  Is it the liberals who are purported to be running the newsrooms, television and radio stations of this country, duping an unsuspecting public into mistaking their party for news?  Or is it the conservatives who have identified media bias as a reliably inflammatory rallying cry around which to consolidate their political base as they cynically "work the refs?"   The author finds the media to be, on the whole, to be far more conservative than liberal.  The fact that conservatives howl so much louder and more effectively than liberals is one signficant reason that big media is always on guard for "liberal" bias but gives conservative bias a free pass.


WEEK OF February 23rd, 2003

Dirty Havana Trilogy  By Pedro Juan Gutiérrez.  Harper Collins Pubilshers. 2002.

Banned in Cuba but celebrated throughout the Spanish-speaking world, this picaresque novel in stories chronicles the misadventures of Pedro Juan, a former Cuban journalist living from hand to mouth in the squalor of contemporary Havana, half disgusted and half fascinated by the depths to which he has sunk.  Like the lives of so many of his neighbors in the crumbling, once-elegant apartment houses that line Havana's waterfront, Pedro Juan's days and nights have been reduced by the so-called special times -- the harsh recession that followed the Soviet Union's collapse -- to the struggle of surviving the daily grit through the escapist pursuit of sex. Pedro Juan scrapes by under the shadow of hunger -- all the while observing his lovers and friends, strangers on the street, and their suffering with an unsentimental, mocking, yet sympathetic eye.


WEEK OF February 16th, 2003

Stories in the Time of Cholera: Racial Profiling during a Medical Nightmare  By Charles L. Briggs and Clara Mantini-Briggs.  University of California Press. 2002.

This harrowing and beautifully written account chronicles a complex array of social responses to an epidemic and shows us what an engaged and responsible anthropology can offer those seeking to understand and prevent such plagues-and the injustices that foster them.  This is a chronicle of a choloera epidemic in Delta Amacuro, Venezuela.


WEEK OF February 9th, 2003

Children's Work, Schooling, and Welfare in Latin America  By David Post.  Westview Press.  2001.

From the 1980s through the 1990s, children in many areas of the world benefited from new opportunities to attend school, but they also faced new demands to support their families because of continuing and, for many, worsening poverty.  Children's Work, Schooling, And Welfare In Latin America is a comparative study of children, ages 12-17, in three different Latin American societies. Using nationally-representative household surveys from Chile, Peru, and Mexico, and repeatedly over different survey years, David Post documents tendencies for children to become economically active, to remain in school, or to do both. The survey data analyzed illustrates the roles of family and regional poverty, and parental resources, in determining what children did with their time in each country.


WEEK OF February 2nd, 2003

Mambo Montage  Edited by Agustín Laó-Montes and Arlene Dávila.  Columbia University Press.  2001.

New York is the capital of mambo and a global factory of latinidad. This book covers the topic in all its multifaceted aspects, from Jim Crow baseball in the first half of the twentieth century to hip hop and ethno-racial politics, from Latinas and labor unions to advertising and Latino culture, from Cuban cuisine to the language of signs in New York City. Together the articles map out the main conceptions of Latino identity as well as the historical process of Latinization of New York. Mambo Montage is both a way of imagining latinidad and an angle of vision on the city.


WEEK OF January 27th, 2003

Andes  Photographs by Pablo Corral Vega, text by Mario Vargas Llosa.  National Geographic.  2001.

Forbidding, unforgiving and fiercely beautiful, the Andes thrust skyward in a 5,000-mile chain that extrends from Patagonia to the Caribbean.  They form the jagged spine of South America, linking countries and cultures alike in a shared experience of wary awe and age-old reverence that runs in the blood of all those who live in their shadows.  Pablo Corral Vega's superb photography finds a perfect match in the eloquent prose of novelist Mario Vargas Llosa.  Both native to the region, they have collaborated to create a heartfelt tribute, panoramic in its sweep yet deeply personal --- a work of beauty and rare insight that transcends dramatic spectacle and exotic color to explore the very soulod of the Andean Cordillera and the people who call it home.


WEEK OF January 20th, 2003

The Blindfold's Eyes: My Journey from Torture to Truth  By Dianna Ortiz.  Orbis Books.  2002.

In 1989, Sister Dianna Ortiz, an American-born nun, was abducted from the compound where she worked in Guatemala. Twenty-four hours later, she escaped, but within that brief period, her body had been burned with cigarettes, she'd been raped, beaten and forced to torture a woman who was already near death. As a consequence of her devastation, Ortiz lost every memory she had of her life before the kidnapping, and spent years battling both real and remembered demons in a struggle to heal herself and to spread the word about U.S. complicity in Guatemala's repressive political system and in the torture and murder of thousands of innocent Guatemalans. This is an important book for two reasons: its illustration of the fallout of torture and the special needs of survivors, and Ortiz's well-documented narrative of the U.S. government's refusal to take seriously what happened to her, particularly as she identified one of her torturers as an American.


WEEK OF January 13th, 2003

Telling to Live: Latina Feminist Testimonios
by The Latina Feminist Group.  Duke University Press.  2001.

Telling to Live is a groundbreaking text—important in its outreach, inclusiveness, and power—that expands, qualifies, complicates, and illuminates the ground of our discourse the way the best texts do—through transformative narratives, stories, and poems that resist the neat paradigms and –isms of our time. It is also a text that will fill an alarming gap in the academy, where silence or simplification of Latina perspectives still prevails.


WEEK OF January 6th, 2003

Cuban Fire: The Story of Salsa and Latin Jazz by Isabelle Lemayrie.  Continuum Publsing Group.  2002.

The history of Cuban music and the major astists covering the musical roots of 1920's, 1940s and 1950s ("The golden age of Cuban music"), the 1970s to today, and more describe the development of distinct genres like the rumba, conga, and pachanga in Cuba, as well as in expatriate communities in the United States and Puerto Rico.


WEEK OF December 29th, 2002

Cuba Confidential: Love and Hate in Miami and Havana by Ann Louise Bardach.  Random House.  2002.

A portrait of Cuba and its exiles, covering Fidel Castro, his family and his cronies, the late exile leader Jorge Mas Canosa, the family of Elián González, the fugitive Robert Vesco, the militant exile Luis Posada Carriles, American politicians such as Jeb Bush, and many others.  The stories are played out in Havana and Miami, and also in Washington DC, Union City (New Jersey), Guantamano Bay, the American farm belt and continue to cast a giant shadow on Cubans everywhere as well as American politics.


WEEK OF December 22nd, 2002

Living in Spanglish; The Search for Latino Identity in America by Ed Morales.  LA Weekly Books.  2002.

Living in Spanish delves deep into the individual's response to Latino stereotypes and suggests that the ability of each culture to hold on to its heritage, while at the same time working to create a culture that is entirely new, is a key component of America's future.

In this book, Morales pins down a hugely diversity community -- of Dominicans, Mexicans, Colombians, Cubans, Salvadorans and Puerto Ricans --- that he insists has more common interests to bring it together than traditions to divide it.  He calls this sensibility Spanglish, one that is inherently multicultural, and proposes that Spanglish "describes a feeling, an attitude that is quintessentially American.  It is a culture with one foot in the medieval past and the other in the next century."


WEEK OF December 15th, 2002

Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America by Alma Guillermoprieto.  Pantheon Books.  2002.

Personal reportage from The New Yorker's Latin American correspondent, with in-depth stories about Colombia (which is fatally splintered among the government, the left-wing guerillas who control large sections of the country and the right-wing paramilitaries), Cuba (in an exhausting holding pattern, waiting for Castro's departure yet anxious about what may replace him) and Mexico (which has been beset by the Chiapas uprising and by the corrpution of the government, yet is emerging for the first time into some kind of real democracy), plus stories of Eva Péron, Che Guevara and Mario Vargas Llosa.


WEEK OF December 8th, 2002

Latin Politics, Global Media by Edited by Elizebeth Fox and Silvio Waisbord.  University of Texas Press, Austin.  2002.

This book addresses how the intersection of globalization and democratization has transformed media systems and policies throughout Latin America, with respect to privatization and liberationzation of the media, the rise of media conglomerates, the impact of trade agreements upon media industries, the role of the state, the mediatization of politics, the state of public television, and the role of domestic and global forces.


WEEK OF December 1st, 2002

Latino/a Popular Culture by Edited by Michelle Habell-Pallán and Mary Romero.  NYU Press, 2002.

Latinos have become the largest ethnic minority group in the United States. While the presence of Latinos and Latinas in mainstream news and in popular culture in the United States buttresses the much-heralded Latin Explosion, the images themselves are often contradictory.  Habell-Pallán and Romero have brought together scholars from the humanities and social sciences to analyze representations of Latinidad in a diversity of genres - media, culture, music, film, theatre, art, and sports.  The essays address everything from Spanish language media, Hip Hop, and Barbie, to Rubén Blades and Selena, and from Paul Simon's The Capeman and Ry Cooder's Buena Vista Social Club to baseball, soccer and boxing.


WEEK OF November 24th, 2002

Vivir Para Contarla by Gabriel García Márquez.  Random House, 2002.

Vivir para contarla is the extraordinary story of Gabriel García Márquez's early life. It is a recreation of his formative years, from his birth in Colombia in 1927, through his evocative childhood to the time he became a journalist. The Nobel laureate offers us the memory of his childhood and adolescence, the years that shaped his creative imagination, and, with time, would become the basis of the fiction that makes up much of twentieth-century literature in Spanish and indeed the world.

In these pages García Márquez reveals the echoes of peoples and stories that we meet in One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love in the Time of Cholera, No One Writes to the Colonel, and Chronicle of a Death Foretold. Vivir para contarla is a guide to readers of his entire work, an indispensable companion to many unforgettable passages which, with the reading of this memoir acquire a new perspective.


WEEK OF November 17th, 2002

The Sexual Construction of Latino Youth: Implications for the Spread of HIV/AIDS by Jacobo Schifter and Johnny Madrigal.  The Haworth Hispanic/Latino Press, 2000.

This is a comprehensive study of what young Latinos learn about sexuality and a detailed description of the latin sexual culture and how it directly relates to HIV infection. This unique book discusses how the social construction of gender in Latin America contributes to sexual violence in such countries as Costa Rica, where violence is used as a means of controlling and asserting ownership over women's bodies at the hands of their fathers, brothers, and boyfriends.


WEEK OF November 10th, 2002

Latinos Inc: The Marketing and Making of a People by Arlene Dávila.  University of California Press, 2001.

Arlene Dávila provides a critical examination of the Hispanic marketing industry and of its role in the making and marketing of U.S. Latinos. She scrutinizes the complex interests that are involved in the public representation of Latinos as a generic and culturally distinct people and questions the homogeneity of the different Latino subnationalities that supposedly comprise the same people and group of consumers. In a fascinating discussion of how populations have become reconfigured as market segments, she shows that the market and marketing discourse become important terrains where Latinos debate their social identities and public standing.

WEEK OF November 3rd, 2002

Consumption Intensified: The Politics of Middle-Class Daily Life in Brazil by Maureen O'Dougherty.  Duke University Press, 2002.

Consumption Intensified examines how self-identified middle class Brazilians in São Paulo redefined their class during Brazil’s economic crisis of 1981–1994. With inflation soaring to an astounding 2700 percent, their consumption practices intensified, not only in relation to the national crisis but also to the expanding global consumer culture. With the supports of middle-class living threatened—job security, quality education, home ownership, savings, ease of consumption—the means and meaning of “middle class” were thrown into question. The sector thus redefined itself through both class- and race-based claims of moral and cultural superiority and through privileged consumption, a definition the media underscored by continually addressing middle-class Brazilians as consumers—or rather, as consumers denied. In these times, adults became more flexible in employment, and put stakes in their children’s expensive private education. They engaged in elaborate comparison shopping, stockpiling of goods, and financial strategizing. Ongoing desire for distinction and “first- world” modernity prompted these Brazilians to buy foreign goods through contraband, thereby defying state protectionist policy. 

WEEK OF October 27th, 2002

Changing Race: Latinos, the Census, and the History of Ethnicity in the United States by Clara E. Rodríguez.  New York University Press, 2000.

Latinos are the fastest growing population group in the United States. Through their language and popular music, Latinos continue to make their mark on America and are becoming more assertive and less content to remain America's "second minority." How then do they fit in to America's divided racial landscape and how do they define their own racial and ethnic identity? Are they just another American ethnic group, like Italians or Germans that will assimilate into English-speaking America? Or will they maintain a distinct Spanish-speaking culture for generations to come? Can this diverse group, made up of dozens of separate nationalities, even be considered a single "race?" Can they help bridge the gap between black and white Americans? Through extensive personal interviews and careful analysis of census data, Clara Rodriguez shows that Latino identity is surprisingly fluid, situation-dependent, and constantly changing. She illustrates how the way Latinos are defining themselves, and refusing to define themselves, represents a powerful challenge to America's system of racial classification and American racism.


WEEK OF October 20th, 2002

Ambient Television by Anna McCarthy.  Duke University Press, 2001..

"TV monitors outside the home are widespread: in bars, laudromats, and stores; conveying flight arrival and departure times in airports; uniting crowds at sports events and allaying boredom in waiting rooms; and helping to pass the time in workplaces of all kinds ... Anna McCarthy explores the significance of this pervasive phenomenon, tracing the forms of conflict, commerce, and community that television generates outside the home."


WEEK OF October 13th, 2002

Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil by Caetano Veloso.  Alfred A Knopf, New York, 2002.

"I am a Brazilian, and I became, more or less involuntarily, a singer and composer of songs.  I was one of the creators and actors of the tropicália project.  This book is an attempt to narrate and interpret what happened."

"From the depths of the dark solar heart of the southern hemisphere, from inside a mix of races that constitutes neither a degradation nor a generic utopia, from the befouled and healing guts of the global entertainment industry, from the island of Brazil ever floating barely suspended above the real ground of America, come these words, translated, rising out of the mists of the Portuguese, limited in their powers but still serving to bear witness and to ask why certain relationships exist between different groups, individuals, artistic forms, commercial transactions, and political forces."


WEEK OF October 6th, 2002

Building the Fourth Estate: Democratization and the Rise of a Free Press in Mexico by Chappell H. Lawson.  University of California Press.  July 2002.

"Based on an in-depth examination of Mexico's print and broadcast media over the last twenty-five years, this book is the most richly detailed account available of the role of the media in democratization, demonstrating the reciprocal relationship between changes in the press and changes in the political system. In addition to illuminating the nature of political change in Mexico, this accessibly written study also has broad implications for understanding the role of the mass media in democratization around the world."


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