7 of the Best New Books to Read in January
10 Books by Latinx Writers We can’t wait to read in 2021
Almost a year after its release date, Jeanine Cummins’ American Dirt is still finding new audiences after spending nearly 50 weeks on Amazon’s bestseller list. While it was originally billed to The Grapes of Wrath of our time, the book sparked a wave of backlash in early 2020 as it gave Mexicans and immigrants spurious and insensitive depictions of barbed wire fence centerpieces at a dinner party celebrating the book’s release . Cummins, who has a Puerto Rican grandparent, landed a seven-digit contract with American Dirt, which also ended up in Oprah’s book club and received multiple praise from publications. This level of support is not a reality for most Latinx writers, who usually do not have the same opportunities to break through institutional barriers. They are overlooked because they don’t fit the narrow definition of latinidad in the publishing industry. In those rare moments when Latinx writers succeed in traditional publishing alongside other marginalized groups, they still don’t get the same introduction or promotion. While the publishing industry is slowly changing, even after the American Dirt controversy has shown how archaic we can do, we can do our part by supporting Latinx writers who use their own experiences to tell authentic stories about the many facets of their cultures . Many of these writers may not always get the attention they deserve, but that doesn’t stop them from telling our stories in nuanced ways across a wide variety of genres. To help you start collecting their titles, here are a number of books by Latinx authors that are worth reading in 2021. One of the good guys, Maika Moulite and Maritza MouliteWhen Kezi Smith, a teenage social activist, is killed after attending a rally, her sisters Happi and Genny went to honor her. However, with Kezi being remembered as “one of the good guys,” Happi begins to wonder why only a few people deserve sympathy in this young adult novel that deals with sisterhood and prejudice. Latinx Photography in the US: A Visual History, Elizabeth Ferrer Elizabeth Ferrer has traced the history of Latinx photography in the US in more than 80 interviews – from everyday moments in East Harlem to the United Farm Workers’ picket lines in California’s Central Depression . With the work of these photographers excluded from the history of photography in the United States, Latinx Photography examines how their images have shaped our communities – and the country. Muted, Tami Charles (February 2) Inspired by a true story, Muted looks at the dark side of the music industry. 17-year-old Denver aspires to be a musician. When she and best friends Dali and Shak get on the radar of one of the biggest R&B stars, Sean “Mercury” Ellis, they are suddenly invited to the hottest parties and events as well as the recording studio. And for Denver, who wants to flee her small, mostly white town, things are great at first until she realizes that she has to take control or lose herself in this world. Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer, Jamie Figueroa (March 2nd) After the siblings Rafa and Rufina’s mother died, the two of them make a bet: If they can earn enough money to get out of Ciudad de Tres Hermanas, Rafa has to go to Commit life. If not, Rufina Rafas has to accept her own plans. It’s an emotional novel about grief and the many ways it affects you. What’s Mine and Yours, Naima Coster (March 2) What’s Mine and Yours is a comprehensive novel that follows two families in a parish in Piedmont, North Carolina, as do the predominantly white high schools west of the city are integrated. When Gee, a sensitive and fearful black teenager, and Noelle, whose mother refuses to acknowledge her Latina heritage, join the school play, their lives and that of their families will become intertwined in unexpected and intricate ways over two decades. By Women and Salt, Gabriela Garcia (Mar. 30) Jeanette starts out in Miami, taking in a neighbor’s daughter after U.S. immigration and customs arrest her parents. As she tries to re-establish her relationship with her own mother and learn more about her family’s history, she decides to travel to Cuba to get answers from her grandmother. After five generations and in several countries, Of Women and Salt studies the relationships between mothers and daughters. The Five Wounds, Kirstin Valdez Quade (April 6th) As 33-year-old Amadeo Padilla is preparing for the Good Friday procession to play Jesus, his 15-year-old daughter Angel shows up on his doorstep and informs him that she is pregnant is. It takes place in the first year of their baby’s life and brings five generations of the padillas together and confronts their difficult family dynamics. Indivisible, Daniel Aleman (May 4th) Just when he begins to believe that his parents are safe from deportation, Mateo’s world is troubled. One day he returns home from school and learns that ICE has arrested his parents. As he struggles to balance the balance between supporting younger sister Sophie, school, and his dreams of becoming a Broadway star, Mateo feels isolated and unsure of his place in his dual identity. Perfect Parvin, Olivia Abtahi (May 18) To get the cutest boy in school to urge them to return home, 14-year-old Iranian-American Parvin Mohammadi decides to change herself. Taking inspiration from rom-com women who always seem to get the guy, she decides to tone down her laughing and gossiping tendencies. But when she deals with the aftermath of the Muslim ban and a surprising friendship with a boy she met while taking Farsi lessons, whom her parents forced her to take over the weekend, Parvin sees things differently. Wild tongues cannot be tamed: 15 voices from the Latinx diaspora, Saraciea J. Fennell (September 14) Saraciea J. Fennel, founder of the Bronx Book Festival and book journalist who has worked with several best-selling authors, is the author behind this poignant one Anthology. With essays and poems by Elizabeth Acevedo, Daniel José Older, Carmen Maria Machado, and others, this book challenges stereotypes and myths about Latinx communities. * Cover not yet availablePhotographer: Brandon King How do you see? How about a little more R29 grade, right here?