Tuesday, August 17, 2010


The increasing depth and breadth of Latina/o literary talent in America today was on display at a recent Los Angeles event co-sponsored by a vaunted group called Latino Literacy Now, among many other supporters. Approximately 20 Latina/o writers were introduced and honored for their work. The onstage ceremony was filmed and broadcast by the LatinoGraduate.net Global Broadcasting.

This all occurred on August 7 at "An Evening of Literature and the Arts" held at the Pan American Bank in East Los Angeles. The authors, part of a contingent of over 130 Hispanic writers, are scheduled to appear at one of the biggest Latino literary events in the nation, the 13th Annual Latino Book & Family Festival (LBFF) to be held at California State University, Los Angeles, on October 9 & 10, 2010. The event at the bank was a preview of sorts.

This year's LBFF boasts the largest number of authors in the history of this festival, which has also been held in Chicago, in addition to L.A., in prior years. For the entire weekend in October this year, many of these authors will present panel discussions and workshops on literary topics, read from their works, and answer their audience's questions about their writing.

The festival is attended by thousands of people from diverse cultures, ages, and backgrounds and is a joyous event that includes food, music, and dancing. Renowned actor, James Edward Olmos, a major sponsor and supporter, is often the master of ceremonies on opening day. Two of the leading organizers and coordinators of this event are author Reyna Grande and Cal State LA professor, Roberto Cantu.

You'll hear more on this blog about this major literary event as we approach October. Stay tuned!


The writers at the special event received special commendations and certificates from the California Senate, the County of Los Angeles, U.S. Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, and Speaker of the California Assembly John A. Perez. Each author was also interviewed onstage by Armando Sanchez, founder and head of Global Broadcasting. Armando is also leader of the Raise Literacy Campaign.

Here are the honored authors:
  • Lalo Alcaraz, renowned cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times and author of 3 books, including the iconic La Cucaracha (1976, 2004); Cartoon History of Latinos in the United States (1999); Latino USA (2000); and Migra Mouse: Political Cartoons on Immigration (2004).
  • David Bueno-Hill, an Honorable Mention Winner of the 2009 Latino Book Awards and author of the young adult novels, Mr. Clean in the Barrio and Mr. Clean's Familia.
  • Daniel Cano, Associate Professor at Santa Monica College, and longtime author, most recently of Death and the American Dream (2009).
  • Victor Cass, a decorated police officer in Pasadena, CA, and author of 3 books, including the novels Love, Death, and Other War Stories (2005), and Telenovela (2009).
  • Philip Victor Colon
  • Kathleen Contreras, author of the children's books, Braids/Trencitas and Pan Dulce.
  • Randy Jurado Ertll, a community activist and civic leader in Pasadena, CA, and author of Hope in Times of Darkness: A Salvadoran-American Experience (2009).
  • Montserrat Fontes, a teacher of literature and journalism in Los Angeles, and a much-praised author of the novels First Confession and of Dreams of the Centaur.
  • Reyna Grande, whose first novel, Across a Hundred Mountains, won the venerable Premio Aztlan Literary Award (2006) and an American Book Award (2007); and who also wrote the celebrated novel, Dancing With Butterflies (2009).
  • Javier Hernandez, cartoonist and creator of comic books including El Muerto and Weapon Tex-Mex; also the Associate Producer of the award-winning film adaptation, El Muerto (1997), starring Wilmer Valderrama and Tony Plana.
  • Laura Lacamara, author of children's books, including the newly-released Floating on Mama's Song (2010).
  • Rene Colato Lainez, author of several children's books in English, Spanish, and bilingual, including The Tooth Fairy Meets El Raton Perez (2010); My Shoes and I (2010); and Rene Has Two Last Names (2009).
  • Rolando Ortiz
  • Mike Padilla, who won a Chicano/Latino Literary Prize and a California Arts Council artist fellowship; who wrote the short story collection, Hard Language; and author of the recently-published novel, The Girls from the Revolutionary Cantina.
  • Melinda Palacio, whose poetry chapbook, Folsom Lockdown, won Kulupi Press' Sense of Place Competition in 2009. Also, she is a PEN USA Emerging Voices 2007 Fellow. Her debut novel, Ocotillo Dreams, will be published this Fall.
  • Amada Irma Perez, author of several English, Spanish, and bilingual children's books, including My Very Own Room (2009); My Diary from Here to There (2007); and Nana's Big Surprise (2007).
  • Michele Serros, popular "chick lit" (or, as it's sometimes called, "chica lit") writer; author of books in English and Spanish, including Honey Blonde Chica (2007), How to Be a Chicana Role Model (2000), and Chicana Falsa: And Other Stories (1998).
I felt very privileged to be onstage with this group and to listen to their engaging stories about what inspires them and how their careers evolved. I look forward to reviewing some of their books for this blog in the coming months.

I was also happy to see other authors in the audience, including emerging writer Vanessa Libertad Garcia, author of The Voting Booth After Dark: Despicable, Embarrassing, Repulsive (2009); and Roberta H. Martinez, author of Latinos in Pasadena (2009). Both of these very talented authors have previously been profiled and their books reviewed in this blog.

The types of writing represented by this group of authors covers the gamut from poetry, short stories, novels, young adult books, "chick lit," children's books, memoirs, and scholarly nonfiction, to social commentary/political cartoons. All of these authors write in English, so their literature is widely accessible to all cultures. Some of their works--such as that by Reyna Grande--are indeed taught in school settings. Several of these authors write in Spanish and bilingually as well as in English.

Many, if not all, of the authors honored at Pan American Bank have author websites. See the LBFF site for a full listing of these sites. Visit them, enjoy, and read the works of these dedicated writers!


Maria Ferrer said...

I love NY, but sometimes I wish I lived closer to L.A. All those Latino authors in one place... WOW. Luckily, we do have the Brooklyn Book Festival next week with a great number of Latino writers set to participate, like Christina Garcia and Sofia Quintero. I am so looking forward to it. And I'll be thinking of everyone in L.A. too. Best of luck. ---Maria Ferrer, The Latina Book Club, www.latinabookclub.com

Thelma T. Reyna said...

Thank you, Maria. I've heard about the Brooklyn Book Festival, and you're fortunate to be right there! Someday, I'd like to go to it. Yes, we are rich in literacy here in L.A., and there are so many authors that I have not yet met or written about! Readers: please send me the names of these unrecognized authors whom you know. The more the merrier!