The link below is to an article that looks at 5 things not to say to authors (they are a touchy mob).
The link below is to an article that looks at 5 things not to say to authors (they are a touchy mob).
The link below is to an article that takes a look at mistakes authors make when connecting with readers.
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You likely recognize that the depiction of Latin American immigrants in politics today – as a menacing mass of recalcitrant Spanish-speaking invaders – is overwhelmingly negative.
What you may not know is that stereotypes suggesting that Latin Americans represent a threat to United States culture are not just morally repugnant – they’re also historically inaccurate. Spanish-language literature actually predates the Puritans’ writing in English by nearly a century.
As my research reveals, many renowned Latin American writers actually produced some of their finest work while living in the United States. Latina and Latino writers have made exceptional contributions to American literary history.
For a fresh take on what it means to be a Latina or Latino in the U.S. today, check out these five literary luminaries.
For Cubans, José Martí is the equivalent of George Washington, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman combined. Born in 1853 in Havana, Cuba, Martí wrote the bulk of his 28 volumes of prose, poetry and speeches in late 19th-century New York.
Working as a diplomat, translator, Spanish teacher and journalist, Martí interpreted current events and cultural questions from his office on Front Street, in lower Manhattan’s South Street Seaport.
He witnessed immigrants arriving by the boatload to New York – except the Chinese, who were banned in 1882. He knew about the lynching of black Americans and of atrocities against Native Americans. These stories found their way into Martí’s thinking about Latin America and its diaspora in the United States.
Martí also wrote dazzling accounts of New York, his adopted hometown, likening the cables of the brand-new Brooklyn Bridge to sated “colossal boa constrictors” resting atop towers.
Upon the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty in 1886, Martí alluded to the fact that his distant island home, Cuba, remained a Spanish colony: “Those who have you, O Liberty, do not know you. Those deprived of you must not merely talk about, they must win you.”
Martí died in 1895, fighting for Cuba’s independence. In 2018, he was inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame, alongside local luminaries Colson Whitehead and Alexander Hamilton.
Puerto Rico’s greatest poet also migrated from her Caribbean home island, where she was a teacher, to the isle of Manhattan. Julia de Burgos recounts this literary journey in one of her most famous poems, “Yo misma fui mi ruta” – “I was my own route.”
De Burgos’ inventive, daring poetry did indeed forge a new path for feminists, Latina and otherwise, in the early 20th century.
Against pressure to identify as white, the mixed-race de Burgos proclaimed her African heritage, calling herself “Black, of pure tint.”
In one experimental 1938 poem, de Burgos addresses the distance between her liberated identity as a writer and her constricted role as a woman.
“You in yourself have no say; everyone governs you; your husband, your family,” she writes in “To Julia de Burgos.” “In me only my heart governs, only my thought; who governs in me is me.”
In 1953, de Burgos was found dead, without identification, in uptown Manhattan and buried anonymously in a potter’s field on Manhattan’s Hart Island. A month later, her compatriots retrieved her remains and reburied her in Puerto Rico.
The New York Times featured de Burgos – a “poet who helped shape Puerto Rico’s identity” – in its overlooked women’s obituary series in May.
The poet and essayist Gloria Anzaldúa came from a family of Mexican-American farm laborers.
Her ancestors had for generations lived in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, near the border that Anzaldúa memorably defined as “an open wound where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds.”
Anzaldúa’s work often celebrates her community’s bilingualism. She portrays it as an act of survival against the “linguistic terrorism” of the U.S. public school system, which required English-only teaching and offered “accent elimination” classes in a part of the U.S. that used to be Mexico.
Anzaldúa found such insults to her nonstandard way of speaking excruciating. “Until I can take pride in my language,” she once wrote, “I cannot take pride in myself.”
Anzaldúa is increasingly recognized as one of the 20th century’s most influential feminist and anti-racist essayists.
No list of Latino authors is complete without Sandra Cisneros, author of the beloved “The House on Mango Street,” which has sold nearly 6 million copies and has been translated into over 20 languages.
My favorite of her novels is “Caramelo.” In this transnational coming-of-age story, a Mexican-American woman digs into her family history.
Learning from her abuela, Soledad, she discovers hidden truths about family tensions, border crossings and why her doting migrant papá, Inocencio, is not so innocent after all.
Cristina Henríquez, who was born in the U.S. after her Panamanian father went there to pursue graduate studies, is the best novelist you’ve never heard of.
Featuring first-person perspectives of Central and South Americans and Caribbean migrants, her books dramatically expand the popular conception of the U.S. Latino, long centered on Mexican-Americans and Puerto Ricans.
“The Book of Unknown Americans” tells the story of recent arrivals from Paraguay, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Panama, Puerto Rico and Mexico who live in a dingy apartment complex, enduring the back-breaking labor of harvesting mushrooms. Sometimes, after a 12-hour shift in the dark, they eat only oatmeal for dinner.
The teenage love story between the characters Maribel and Mayor – written in prose that The Washington Post says rises “to the level of poetry” – may help American readers appreciate the myriad reasons why Latin Americans migrate north, including dictatorships, a lack of specialized health care and violence.
That is, I think, Henríquez’s hope. As one Mexican character angrily states, in the U.S. he feels both invisible and vilified.
“I want them to see a guy who works hard, or a guy who loves his family,” he says. “I wish just one of those people, just one, would actually talk to me. … But none of them even want to try. We’re the unknown Americans.”
The link below is to an article that looks at how male named authors earn more than female named authors.
The link below is to an article that considers how authors can use YouTube to their advantage.
The link below is to an article that takes a look at how to visit dead writers, or better still perhaps, on how to find them.
Glasgow’s annual book festival, Aye Write!, is getting underway. Now in its 11th year, big name writers making appearances include the philosopher AC Grayling, broadcast journalist Robert Peston, crime writer Val McDermid and the mountaineer Chris Bonington.
The name of the festival is a play on “aye right”, a sarcastic Scottish way of saying no. This encapsulates much about the literary outlook in this part of the world – a vernacular defensiveness, a strident overcompensation in the face of imagined English snootiness about Glaswegian speech. A neutral might conclude that the arts in Scotland exist in a state of perma-froth at presumed metropolitan condescension.
If support for Scottish independence can be considered a proxy for such froth, there is certainly much in evidence. At the time of the 2014 independence referendum, the Scottish literary scene was near unanimously in favour of a Yes vote – nowhere close to the 55-45 split among the wider population.
This normally disputatious crowd felt overwhelmingly that the Union was inimical to Scottish culture and that the literary tradition would best flourish with independence. Little has changed since. Don’t expect much enthusiasm from them about Theresa May’s Britain at this year’s festival.
This mood didn’t begin in 2014, it must be said. In the Thatcher-hating days of 1988, the pro-devolution Campaign for a Scottish Assembly gave this starkly black and white assessment:
The Union has always been, and remains, a threat to the survival of a distinctive culture in Scotland.
Is this right? Most great Scottish writers – Robert Burns, Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson, for example – thrived within the Union between Scotland and England. Indeed, most Scots will know much more about their nation’s literature since 1707 than about previous eras.
If the Union was such a problem for Scottish writers, why was it invisible in what they had to say? Why is there no tradition of anti-Unionist invective? Aside from Burns’s well-known 1791 poem condemning the “parcel o’ rogues” who “bought and sold” Scotland “for English gold”, the Union is at best an absent presence. Even today it receives little attention from Scottish writers – why?
Scottish literature’s relationship with the Union is the focus of a new book of essays which we have edited, Literature and Union: Scottish Texts, British Contexts. The most compelling explanation for the lack of literary attention to the Union is that until recently, other questions were more important to Scottish writers, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries.
In particular, partisanship and religion long trumped national identity. Indeed, they were deeply interwoven, shaping two distinctive mythical representations of Scotland.
One was Presbyterian and democratic, the myth of Scotland’s godly Covenanting tradition. The other was Episcopalian, royalist and Jacobite, the cause of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Forty-five Rising. Each reached back to earlier periods – the Covenanters claimed to be the true heirs of the Scottish Reformation; Jacobite sympathisers were entranced by the romantic plight of Mary, Queen of Scots, imprisoned and finally beheaded by a Protestant queen.
Walter Scott’s Waverley (1814) might be the classic example of the Jacobite representation, recounting many of the events of 1745 from a perspective very sympathetic to the Highland rebels. It was followed by a long stream of Jacobite literature – and Scott himself returned to the theme both in Rob Roy (1817) and Redgauntlet (1824).
Depictions of Covenanters are variously positive and negative in Scottish literature. Many 19th-century novels present them as heroes for their democratic outlook, with their roots in the culture of ordinary folk. John Galt’s Ringan Gilhaize (1823) is one example, telling the story of three generations of rural people.
Other writers are repelled by the illiberal and philistine totalitarianism they discern in the tradition. The most notorious example is James Hogg’s 1824 satire, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, whose lead character considers that having attained his place among God’s saved, he has carte blanche to commit terrible crimes.
Nationalism took hold on the Scottish literary scene over the course of the 20th century, primarily under the enduring influence of Hugh MacDiarmid. Even so, he and others held to a view that Scotland’s Reformation had been just as bad, if not worse, than the Union. For McDiarmid, it was the founding of the Protestant church – and not the merger with England – that was the beginning of the repression of Scottish folk and their authentic culture.
Novels and poems about Covenanting and Jacobitism still abound today. James Robertson, for example, who is appearing at this year’s Aye Write!, makes sport with Covenanting fanaticism in The Fanatic (2000) and The Testament of Gideon Mack (2006). Robertson has also written the only novel that has brought Scottish nationhood into focus in recent years: And the Land Lay Still (2010). More generally, the Union remains a submerged and largely invisible feature of the Scottish literary landscape.
While it is true that the Union never enjoyed much of a fanfare among Scottish writers of previous generations, it was rarely if ever the focus of their work. Several even made conspicuous contributions to British – indeed to English – national identities. How else do we account for the fact that the figure of John Bull was the coinage of a Scottish doctor, John Arbuthnot, and Rule, Britannia the work of the Scottish poet, James Thomson?
It is hard to imagine a Scottish writer expressing a similar sentiment in their work today. Yet the reluctance to write about independence has continued, despite writers’ enthusiasm for the cause. It is as if the literary tradition weighs heavy on their shoulders and encourages them to look elsewhere for inspiration.
In sum, the relationship between Scottish literature and the Union turns out to be much more tangled, ironic and surprising than might have been expected. Today’s nationalists do indeed dominate Scotland’s literary scene, and will undoubtedly be in force at Aye Write!, but they do not have all the best tunes. It will be fascinating to see to what extent this changes in future.
The link below is to an article that takes a look at ten authors who are best known for their posthumous works.
Women’s writing has long been a thorn in the side of the male literary establishment. From fears in the late 18th century that reading novels – particularly written by women – would be emotionally and physically dangerous for women, to the Brontë sisters publishing initially under male pseudonyms, to the dismissal of the genre of romance fiction as beyond the critical pale, there has been a dominant culture which finds the association of women and writing to be dangerous. It has long been something to be controlled, managed and dismissed.
One of the ways that publishers, booksellers and critics use to “manage” literature is through the notion of genre: labelling a book as “detective fiction” becomes an easy way to identify particular tropes in a novel. These genre designations are particularly helpful for publishers and booksellers, with the logic running something like this: a reader can walk into any bookstore, anywhere, and go to the detective fiction section and find a book to read, because s/he has read detective fiction before and enjoyed it.
What complicates this is who makes the decision of which genres are deemed to be appropriate, and which books are put into which category. Genre is also complicated by the idea of women’s writing. Can we have a genre that is designated solely by the sex of the author? What if we turned this around, and rather than a genre, women’s writing was a term we used to simply celebrate writing about women?
Here are five novels by women – and about women – from across the 20th century. These novels all grapple, in very different ways, with women and independence.
Anna Beddingfeld, a self-mocking heroine, who is very aware of the conventions of gender and genre, impulsively buys a ticket to South Africa because the boat fare is the exact amount she has left in the world. She ends up taking down an international crime syndicate with aplomb and panache.
Doss is the expendable unmarried older woman in a Victorian novel. But in this story, she walks out on her largely uninterested family to move into a cabin on an island with a man she has met only briefly. A fantasy of the Canadian wilderness, the novel was one of Montgomery’s few novels for adults.
A rewriting of Jane Eyre, the novel contains all the tropes of the Gothic romance – a castle, a family secret, murder – but these are challenged by one of Stewart’s finest protagonists, Linda Martin. Martin is employed as a governess by an aristocratic family, but rejects the trappings of romance to protect her charge, and her own integrity.
Edana Franklin wakes up in hospital with her arm amputated and the police questioning her husband. It is revealed that she has been travelling back to 1815, where she comes into repeated contact and conflict with Rufus, one of her slave-owning ancestors. A novel that raises important questions about masculinity, power and violence.
One of the earliest pieces of electronic fiction, this retelling of Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) and Baum’s The Patchwork Girl (1913) places the narrative in the hands of the reader, who pieces together the story through illustrations of parts of a female body.
Often popular novels by women have a narrative arc that is visible from the outset: the protagonists will find a romantic partner in the end. In some of the above books, some of the women do, and some of them don’t, find a romantic partner. For those who do, the romance is secondary to the work they do, and the choices that they make about their own lives.
What unites the novels is an exploration of the choices that some women have to make as a result of their sexed and gendered embodiment, whether travelling to South Africa on a whim, being jolted unwillingly back onto a slave plantation, or making an explicit call to the (woman) reader to make choices about how the electronic story develops.
Writing about women (and often by women) gives us some examples of how to challenge the status quo, if only for a little while. Each challenge, however, provides another example of how to effect change in a patriarchal culture. Here’s to the writers about women who have done this – from Jane Austen to Shirley Jackson, from Frances Burney to Josephine Tey, and from Angela Carter to Val McDermid.
The link below is to an article that takes a look at the rise of South Korean authors and thrillers.