BookRiot: #OwnVoices from Mexico or Central America

Ugh, the last weekend in August!  I just can’t!

The last four months of the year are upon us.  In seventeen weeks, I need to meet my reading and blogging goals, and do my monthly poems and short stories, and gear up for the start of the school year and the madness that ensues.  Madness!

This is the second of the #ownvoices category from BookRiot. As with Oceania, it was deceptively difficult to find writers who were Mexican and Central American, rather than just Latin American.  I peeked to see if my Isabel Allende backlist would count for this but I don’t believe she does count.   I suppose that’s why it was chosen for a category:  a region underrepresented/overlooked in writing.

An #ownvoices book set in Mexico or Central America:

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House of Broken Angels, Luis Alberto Urrea

A 70 year old patriarch of a large Mexican American family, Big Angel, is hosting a giant birthday party for himself as he dies of cancer in his San Diego home.  Along the way, his mother dies, forcing two family gatherings, and the stories of the family members, in the book.  Like they always do, these major life events pull the family together.

This is everything you would expect from a family saga of immigration, the interwoven webs and the divides between the young and the old divided by cultures as well as by age and experience.  It was funny and poignant and sad, eye opening for us who have never had a family straddling two cultures.  Things changing through time as well as the things that stay the same.  I especially liked that Big Angel was able to save the family one last time in the end.  I thought that that was cool after the story mostly talks about his relinquishing his health and usefulness in the world.  I liked that there were still ways he was highly relevant to his family.  But no spoilers here.  Still cool.  Of course BookRiot would recommend it.

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The She Devil in the Mirror, Horatio Castellanos Moya

An upper class woman in San Salvador is trying to figure out her best friend’s murder in one sided, first person dialogue.  She becomes increasingly frenzied and paranoid as the short narrative spins itself out to its conclusion, revealing her as an unreliable narrator.

So the blurb states that it is Kafka-esque and profound, which it is, but I’m glad this wasn’t a long piece because I’m not sure for how much longer I could have stood the narrator.  Everyone seemed to be having sex with everyone else, even though this was her best friend who had passed, there was nevertheless some man trading going on and lots of commentary on such.   She was privileged, selfish and irritating.  She never had anything better to think about than everyone else’s business, which can make her interesting in moderate doses. It did give some insight into politics in San Salvador more than just the poor little rich girl thing, which is the same across cultures.  It’s still valuable, just ended at the right time.

September will be at least partly other posts than BookRiot.  All I have left are a book of nonviolent true crime, a business book, and a book of poetry published since 2014.  But the theme that has held together some of my diversion reads fit for September, so there is where they shall be posted.   And I can post on them while I’m finishing BookRiot.

I’m really doing too many things is the problem.   But I guess I’m the one responsible for that and there are worse problems to have.

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