Latin Twist

Spirits of the Ordinary

By Kathleen Alcala

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"Unfolding a rare and haunting gift for story-telling, Kathleen Alcal begins her tale in the 1880s and follows three generations of the Carabajal family on a path of forbidden love and hidden belief that wends across the Mexico-Texas border. Estela risks the security of her comfortable home and children to pursue a consuming passion. Her husband, Zacar as, is guided by an inexplicable spiritual longing and his affinity for the indigenous people who dwell in the cliffs of Casas Grandes. Zacar as's father, a cloistered Jew, studies the ancient wisdom of the Torah and the Cabala, hoping to unlock the secrets of his son's future. The truth, when it comes, will surprise all of them."
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The Feast of the Goat

By Mario Vargas Llosa

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"It is 1961. The Dominican Republic languishes under economic sanctions; the Catholic church spurs its clergy against the government; from its highest ranks down, the country is arrested in bone-chilling fear. In The Feast of the Goat, Vargas Llosa unflinchingly tells the story of a regime's final days and the unsteady efforts of the men who would replace it.

"His narrative skates between the rituals of the hated dictator, Rafael Trujillo, in his daily routine, and the laying-in-wait of the assasins who will kill him; their initial triumph; and the shock of fear's release--and replacements. In the novel's final chapters we learn Urania Cabral's story, self-imposed exile whose father was Trujillo's cowardly Secretary of State. Drawn back to the country of her birth from 30 years after Trujillo's assasination, the widening scope of the dictator's cruelty finds expression in her story, and a rapt audience in her extended family."

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The House on Mango Street

By Sandra Cisneros

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"Acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero. Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become."

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The Law of Love

By Laura Esquivel

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"The intensely anticipated new novel from the author of the international bestseller Like Water for Chocolate tells a cosmic love story, a Mexican Midsummer Night's Dream that stretches from the fall of Montezuma's Mexico to the 23rd century. A skillful and delightfully playful blend of fictional genres, The Law of Love features 48 pages of dramatic, color illustrations by Miguelanxo Prado, Spain's premier artist of the graphic novel, plus a compact disc with arias and Mexican."

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The Making of Toro: Bullfights, Broken Hearts and One Author's Quest for the Acclaim He Deserves

By Mark Sundeen

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"Mark Sundeen needed to stage a comeback. His first book was little read, rarely reviewed, and his book tour was cancelled. So when a careless big city publisher calls with an offer for a book about bullfighting, Mark assumes this is his best and last chance to follow the trajectory of his literary heroes.

"To be sure, Sundeen has never been to a bullfight. He doesn't speak Spanish. He's not even a particularly good reporter. Come to think of it, he's probably one of the least qualified people to write a book about bullfighting, even in the best of circumstances. But that doesn't stop Mark Sundeen.

"After squandering most of the book advance on back rent and debts, Sundeen can't afford a trip to Spain, so he settles for nearby Mexico. But the bullfighting he finds south of the border is tawdry and comical, and people seem much more interested in the concessions and sideshows. There's little of the passion and artistry and bravery that he'd hoped to employ in exhibiting his literary genius to the masses.

"To compensate for his own shortcomings as an author, Sundeen invents an alter ego, Travis LaFrance, a swashbuckling adventure writer, in the tradition of his idol, Ernest Hemingway. But as his research falters, his money runs out, and the deadline approaches, Sundeen's high-minded fantasies are skewered by his second-rate reality. Eventually, Travis LaFrance steps in to take control, and our narrator goes blundering through the landscape of his own dreams and delusions, propelled solely by a preposterous, quixotic, and ultimately heartbreaking insistence that his own life story, no matter how crummy, is worth being told in the pages of Great Literature."

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The Meaning of Consuelo

By Judith Ortiz Cofer

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"La nina seria, the serious child. That's how Consuelo's mother has cast her pensive, book-loving daughter, while Consuelo's younger sister Mili, is seen as vivacious--a ray of tropical sunshine. Two daughters: one dark, one light; one to offer comfort and consolation, the other to charm and delight. But something is not right in this Puerto Rican family. Set in the 1950s, a time when American influence is diluting Puerto Rico's rich island culture, Consuelo watches her own family's downward spiral. It is Consuelo who notices as her beautiful sister Mili's vivaciousness turns into mysterious bouts of hysteria and her playful invented language shift into an incomprehensible and chilling 'language of birds.'

"Ultimately Consuelo must choose: will she fulfill the expectations of her family--offering consolation as their tragedy unfolds? Or will she risk becoming la fulana, the outsider, like the harlequin figure of her neighbor, Mario/Maria Sereno, who flaunts his tight red pedal pushers and empty brassiere as he refuses the traditional macho role of his culture. This affecting novel is a lively celebration of Puerto Rico as well as an archetypal story of loss, the loss each of us experiences on our journey from the island of childhood to the uncharted territory of adulthood."

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The Night of the Radishes

By Sandra Benítez

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"Annie Rush, a 34-year-old Minnesotan-seems to be living every woman's dream: She has an interesting job, loyal husband, and adorable sons. But just beneath the surface, a series of family tragedies haunts her, including the death of her twin sister more than three decades earlier. Her father, plagued by guilt, shot himself soon thereafter; a few years later Annie's brother Hub Hart left home for good. While they haven't had contact for decades, the death of their mother compels Annie to embark on a search for her lost sibling. Hub's trail takes Annie all the way to Oaxaca, Mexico, a town exuberant with Christmas and the Night of the Radishes celebrations."
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The River Beyond the World

By Janet Peery

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Captures the relationship between Luisa Solis, a girl from a Sierra Madre mountain village, who has been impregnated in an ancient fertility ritual, and her employer, Mrs. Eddie Hatch, a woman of strong will and narrow worldview.
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The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts

By Louis de Bernieres

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"This rambunctious first novel by the author of the bestselling Corelli's Mandolin is set in an impoverished, violent, yet ravishingly beautiful country somewhere in South America. When the haughty Dona Constanza decides to divert a river to fill her swimming pool, the consequences are at once tragic, heroic, and outrageously funny."

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The Years With Laura Diaz

By Carlos Fuentes

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"Laura Díaz is a complicated and alluring heroine whose brave honesty and good heart prevail despite her losing a brother and a grandson to the darkest forces of Mexico's turbulent, corrupt politics, and a son to the ravages of a disease that consumes him before his greatness can be fulfilled. Yet in the end she is a happy woman, despite the tragedy and loss, for she has borne witness to and helped to affect her country's life, and she has loved and understood with unflinching honesty."
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