Mónica Zorrilla, one of Philly’s rising young Latinx journos, wrote about Ink’s rerelease and the launch party at Amalgam Comics tonight.
When Sabrina Vourvoulias first released her novel Ink, in 2012, the dystopic magical realism drama about oppressive prejudice and violence against immigrants in the U.S. was considered by many to be “far-fetched.”
“Because the events that transpire in Ink are set in an America of the near future,” the Philadelphia-based author told Billy Penn, “I think some readers were uncomfortable with this immediate vision of the country committing human rights violations against immigrants…”
The book launch party takes place from 5 to 8 p.m at Amalgam Comics and Coffeehouse, 2578 Frankford Ave. in Philly. There will be a short reading around 6 p.m., and remarks and shout-outs to Philadelphia immigration advocates and local journalists, since both immigration and journalism are key concerns of the novel. Spinning the party is DJ Awesomous Prime, and food will be available for purchase from Amalgam.
Looking forward to attending Readercon July 12-15 in Quincy, Mass. If you are there, and you see me around, stop and say hello!
These are the panels I’m scheduled to be part of:
❧ Writers who edit, editors who write – Thursday, 8 p.m.
Those who edit as a full-time job rarely do much writing on the side, but many full-time writers bolster their incomes through editing. Why does this equation seem to function better in one direction than the other? How do writers who edit avoid the pitfalls experienced by editors who write? What can be done to address an ever-widening taste gap, and the tendency to self-edit into the ground?
Panelists: Julia Rios, Mimi Mondal, John Edward Lawson, Mike Allen, Scott Edelman and me.
❧ La Sagrada Chingonez: The sacred badassery of Latinx speculative fiction – Friday, 3 p.m.
David Bowles once dubbed me one of a number of “sacerdotisas de la sagrada chingonez” (priestesses of the sacred badassery). The term implies a religion of dogged persistence, of speaking up and out, of fucking with the status quo/system/hegemony, of acknowledging the vastness of Latinx badassery and reveling in it. This panel will bring together some of the practitioners of la sagrada chingonez to talk about what 2018 holds for Latinx writers and readers of speculative works.
Panelists: Julia Rios, José Pablo Iriarte, Malka Older, Pablo Defendini and me.
❧ Radical Elders – Friday, 9 p.m.
On the page, as in GOH Nisi Shawl’s Everfair, and in real life, as in the careers of authors such as Ursula K. Le Guin, elders are speaking their minds and upsetting the status quo. How can age intersect with radicalism and pioneering thought? How is the cognitive estrangement of aging relevant to speculative fiction and fannish communities, and what’s the best way of acknowledging that relevance?
Panelists: Barbara Krasnoff, Elizabeth Hand, James Patrick Kelly, Rosemary Kirstein and me.
❧ Reading – Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
I’ll be reading “The Life and Times of Johnny the Fox,” a short story that will appear in Outland Publication’s Knaves anthology in November. Johnny the Fox is a character readers first met in my story “Skin in the Game” published in 2014 at Tor.com. You can read that here.
Take a look at all of Readercon’s programming here.
Because we can, will, and do, write the most extraordinary stories.
Check out #FantasticLatinas on Twitter to get links to the websites of the Latina writers (many of them speculative fiction writers, of course 😉) who are quoted here. Some are big names, some just starting out — but they are all really quite remarkable.
Read their work, buy their books and stories (and essays and critical theory), and amplify their voices!
There is a particular smell to corn that has been soaked in wood ash lye, then washed and hulled and ground into a fine meal.
It is the aroma of freshly made tortillas, of tamales as they steam, of my mother’s huipiles.
Really. No matter how freshly laundered, no matter how many cedar balls or lavender sachets have been thrown in the drawer to keep the moths away, the distinctive hand-woven Guatemalan blouses my mother wore retain the smell of a grain turned more aromatic, more flavorful, more nutritious by the nixtamalation process.
Yared Portillo, a Philadelphia community activist, has four of them: One she built from scratch; two others were secured from renowned artisans; the final one — received broken and in pieces from a friend — she carefully repaired and made whole again.
The repaired instrument isn’t a bad metaphor for the role the jarana has played in the US immigration protest movement for the past two decades. It’s a small, eight-string instrument from Veracruz, Mexico, patterned after a 16th century baroque Spanish guitar that is often confused with a ukulele.
In the hands of Chicanos or recent Mexican immigrants, the jarana — as well as the son jarocho musical form with which it is inextricably associated — energizes rallies and undergirds the chants of those who want to repair not only a broken immigration system, but the increasingly broken relationship between two nations sharing both borders and histories.
This is the time of year when the timelines of speculative fiction writers and reviewers fill with awards eligibility posts listing stories and novels readers might consider nominating for upcoming Nebula and Hugo awards.
It can be a humbling time for those of us who are slow to write and slow to submit. Many of my colleagues in the field have four or five eligible short stories, and at least one eligible longer piece (novelette, novella or novel); I have only one. And while it is true that I’m not a fantastically prolific fiction writer even in the best years, I know my creative output took a real hit in 2017.
From chatting with and hearing the comments of other Latinx writers, I’m not the only one. The profound and recurring political threats to our local and national communities, as well as the catastrophic natural events that have impacted us, our friends and loved ones, have taken a toll. Understand — none of us are laying down or laying off, none of us are willingly muting our voices at a time when it becomes more and more urgent to speak out — but writing can feel like slogging through particularly thick and bitter molasses these days.
Still, you know what they say.
One. Story. At. A. Time.
My award nomination eligible short story this year — “Sin Embargo,” published in the anthology Latin@ Rising in January — is among my favorites. It plays across languages. It looks at tough issues of displacement and migration and politically motivated brutality, and still finds a way to speak of love, of hope, and of the radically transformative magic of interpersonal solidarity. It is a bear to read aloud because of all the bilingual homographs, and yet I insist on doing just that at public readings because … well, there is delight to be had in noting difference and similarity and the possibility of wholeheartedly embracing both.
In “Sin Embargo,” by Sabrina Vourvoulias, the psychology of immigration and asylum collides with inhuman transformation. — Kirkus Reviews
“Sin Embargo” is not, unfortunately, available to read online for those who might want to read it for nomination consideration. But the whole anthology is top-notch and well worth purchasing in print or eBook; it deserves a a much wider SFF readership than it has had so far.
Latin@ Rising includes wonderful reprint stories from writers celebrated by the SFF community (Junot Díaz, Carlos Hernández, Daniel José Older and Carmen María Machado), along with remarkable original stories by Latinx literary luminaries that are perhaps less known to SFF-only audiences, like the superb Kathleen Alcalá and Ana Castillo. It also includes the first English-language translation of a short story, “Accursed Lineage,” by Daína Chaviano, who is considered one of the three most important SFF authors writing in Spanish (Argentina’s Angélica Gorodischer and Spain’s Elia Barceló are the other two).
I honestly believe that if Latin@ Rising had been reviewed by SFF-focused review sites, or if it had gotten the attention other, more mainstream SFF anthologies have received this year, many of its stories would already be on people’s Nebula and Hugo nominating lists. I’m particularly fond of “Caridad” by Alex Hernández, “The Drain” by Alejandra Sánchez,”Room for Rent” by Richie Narvaez, and “Flying Under the Texas Radar With Paco and Los Freetails” by Ernest Hogan. (I wish there were an award somewhere for ingenious story titles because Hogan would be a repeat winner. “Pancho Villa’s Flying Circus” in the anthology We See a Different Frontier is another evocative one.)
Beyond Latin@ Rising
I read a lot of other great short stories this year and no way can I remember them all, but among those that live most vividly in my memory are:
“The Obsidian Codex“ by David Bowles (from his2017collection of short stories Chupacabra Vengeance). I think this story is longer than a short story, possibly novelette length? A further word about this collection (which contains my favorite Bowles story, “Wildcat,” originally published by Apex Magazine in 2015): Many of the stories in the collection are very dark and contain horrors beyond the commonplace … a number of them really should be under consideration for a Shirley Jackson award.
“The Corporal” by Ali Bader. All right, this short story isn’t actually eligible for nomination since it appeared (translated) in the 2016 anthology Iraq +100, but I only read it this year so, for me, it is identified with this year’s great pieces. I urge you to seek it out simply for the pleasure of reading a beautifully written fantasy with sci fi elements.
As far as 2017 novels are concerned, I haven’t yet read most of the ones that have been mentioned in the overlapping “Best of” lists are being published now. Still, I am hoping that the exceptional “American Street” by Ibi Zoboi is on lots of folks’ award-nominating lists in either the novel or YA categories. And, yes, it is good enough to deserve to be on both at once.
If I can dredge up more recommended reads from my memory banks during this nominating period, I’ll update this post. Stay tuned.
And don’t forget to nominate!
UPDATE (#1 of what I think are going to be multiple updates):
So apparently Facebook has something against one of the most established and important Chicano, Xicana & Latinx blogs on the internet and will not let it be shared via FB. Beyond the ridiculousness (is that a word?) of the ban, it is a huge loss for Latinx lit — many of us have discovered great poetry and fiction through Em Sedano’s reviews and Rudy Ch. Garcia’s lists; we’ve delighted in Melinda Palacio’s poetry and life posts, and let SFF writer Ernest Hogan take us on the wild ride of his Chicanonautica. Not being able to share La Bloga, in part or in whole with friends and colleagues, on Facebook is a very real loss.
So, until Facebook changes its wrongheaded ban, I’ll be linking many of La Bloga’s posts here, and posting this to my Facebook page — a kind of underground La Bloga until the venerable site can emerge from the shadows …
“I kept asking [the organizers of the cleanup at Second and Indiana], ‘Where, where is the place that is going to take these individuals?’”
Everyone from Dr. Oz to the BBC has now done a piece on the heroin camp in Kensington. Some of the pieces have been good, others are simply poverty and addiction porn. All of them have come from outside the community most impacted by both the existence of the camp and its cleanup. To get beyond one-shot sensationalism, what we need now is coverage that centers the voices of people like Jessie Alejandro-Cruz and Charito Morales — who have been grappling with not only the implications but the actuality of this for decades.