2017 awards eligibility and what I’ve loved reading this year

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Guatemalan and Mexican jarras, used to make and/or serve chocolate, atole and café de olla, holding molinillos and other wooden kitchen  implements. The Guatemalan jarra, on the left, bears the inscription: “No me olvides” (“Don’t forget me”).

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

Latino-Rising-Cover-web“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:

  1. The Famine King” by Darcie Little Badger (Mythic Delirium)
  2. Monster Girls Don’t Cryby A. Merc Rustad (Uncanny Magazine)
  3. Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Handby Fran Wilde (Uncanny Magazine)
  4. “Naranjas Inmortales” by Ezzy Guerrero Languzzi (from the anthology Strange California)
  5. “The Obsidian Codex by David Bowles (from his 2017 collection 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.
  6. 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):

“Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience” by Rebecca Roanhorse
https://www.apex-magazine.com/welcome-to-your-authentic-indian-experience/

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Latino Genre Writers: Diversity in Mystery, Science Fiction, and Horror

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On the morning commute to work, this SEPTA rider I sat across from on the 44 bus had his phone, his lunch and Junot Diaz’s “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.”  Latinx lit is lit!

Latino/a writers discuss issues in writing and publishing genre fiction (mystery, science fiction, and horror) and celebrate a new collection of science fiction and fantasy stories.

The New York Society Library
53 East 79th Street
New York, NY 10075

Sun, September 17, 2017
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM EDT

Latino-Rising-Cover-webLatin@ Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Science Fiction and Fantasy is the first anthology of fantastic fiction written by Latino/as living in the United States. Fifty years ago the Latin American boom in literature popularized magical realism; Latin@ Rising is the literature that has risen from the explosion that gave us García Márquez, Jorge Amado, Carlos Fuentes, and others. The 23 authors and artists included in this anthology come from all over the U.S. and from eight different national traditions. They include well-known creators like Kathleen Alcalá, Ana Castillo, Junot Díaz, Giannina Braschi, and others; they also include new voices, well worth hearing.

Panelists
Matthew David Goodwin (editor and moderator) is an assistant professor of English at the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey, focusing on the topic of migration in Latino/a literature, particularly science fiction, fantasy, and digital culture.

Carlos Hernandez is the author of The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria (Rosarium 2016) and over 30 works of science fiction and fantasy, including poetry and drama. By day, he is an CUNY associate professor of English and has worked in game writing and game design.

Richie Narvaez is the award-winning author of Roachkiller and Other Stories. His fiction has appeared in Grand Central Noir, Plots with Guns, Sunshine Noir, and Spinetingler.

Sabrina Vourvoulias is the author of Ink (Crossed Genres, 2012), a novel that draws on her memories of Guatemala’s armed internal conflict and of the Latinx experience in the United States. It was named one of Latinidad’s Best Books of 2012.

This event is free and open to the public. Please register by emailing events@nysoclib.org or calling 212.288.6900, ext. 230.

Latino/a Rising ToC announced

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The Latino/a Rising anthology, which will be released by  Wings Press in 2017, has made its table of contents known — and it is magnificent. I am so honored to have a short story included:

Foreword: Matthew David Goodwin

Introduction: Frederick Luis Aldama

Javier Hernandez: “El Muerto: Los Cosmos Azteca”

Kathleen Alcalá: “The Road to Nyer”

Pablo Brescia: “Code 51” (translated by Pablo Brescia with contributions by Matthew David Goodwin)

Pedro Zagitt: “Misinformed” and “Circular Photography” (translated by Nahir Otaño-Gracia)

Sabrina Vourvoulias: “Sin Embargo”

Daína Chaviano: “Accursed Lineage” (translated by Matthew David Goodwin)

ADÁL: Coconauts in Space

Ana Castillo: “Cowboy Medium”

Ernest Hogan: “Flying under the Radar with Paco and Los Freetails”

Junot Díaz: “Monstro”

Richie Narvaez: “Room for Rent”

Edmundo Paz-Soldán: “Artificial” (translated by Heather Cleary)

Steve Castro: “Two Unique Souls” and “Through the Right Ventricle”

Alex Hernandez: “Caridad”

Carmen Maria Machado: “Difficult at Parties”

Giannina Braschi: “Death of the Businessman” and “Burial of the Sardine”

Carlos Hernandez: “Entanglements”

Alejandra Sanchez: “The Drain”

Daniel José Older: “Red Feather and Bone”

Carl Marcum: “A Science Fiction” and “SciFi-ku”

Marcos Santiago Gonsalez: “Traditions”