Capó Crucet's talents and intellect hold up her biting humor and crushing critiques. She's a genuine truth teller and this collection of essays should be on every serious reader’s bookshelf.
Angie Cruz's "Dominicana" is a novel about immigration from the island to New York City.
Finally, we get to read a searing first-hand account of a Dominican woman who is not only imprisoned in the patriarchy of culture but also in the inequality of the capitalist U.S. in the 1960s.
Known for winning the Yale Drama competition in 2010 for her play "Blu," Grise has demonstrated time and again that aesthetics and activism are not mutually exclusive.
This small book is a performance manifesto on our present-day health systems. It is also highly instructive in self-care as self-defense.
Recommended by Helena María Viramontes, author of "Their Dogs Came with Them" and "Under the Feet of Jesus," who noted: "I couldn’t settle on one so I have three recommendations — I loved all of these books."
If you have a poet on your gift list, I’d suggest "(the other house)" by Rocío Carlos, an exquisite and deftly structured book-length sequence I’ve enjoyed rereading this year.
The sequence asks us to consider how family, culture, place, desire and language rend and redeem the self. “[A]nd what is true?” Carlos writes, “[W]hat I said, or what my body said?” As the questioning becomes more haunted and beautiful, the sequence refuses to provide answers. Carlos reminds us lyrical thinking suffices.
Recommended by Eduardo C. Corral, author of "Slow Lightning" and the forthcoming poetry collection "Guillotine"
I am going to gift and suggest that everyone immediately read "In the Dream House" by Carmen Maria Machado.
This is easily one of the best memoirs of 2019, if not the best. Machado’s subversive storytelling takes center stage as she examines her descent, as a queer woman, into an abusive relationship. Most memorably — along with her threading of popular culture and folklore — is Machado's exploration of the gray areas of abuse, the signs of intimate partner violence that are often unseen, but which are felt. I read it in one night: highly recommend.
Recommended by Diana Marie Delgado, author of "Tracing the Horse"
Juliana Delgado Lopera — remember that name — is an irreverent, shameless and disarming new novelist. She is a merciless satirist in control of a pitch-perfect voice that makes an indisputable case for Spanglish as the perfect vehicle to express what we are really like right now.
Delgado Lopera is like a baby dyke Joan Rivers; but she also has more than a touch of the poet. And there’s no denying that her desire to smash the clichés of our culture is driven by a big and broken-yet-hopeful heart. May a large audience be fortunate enough to catch this Fiebre Tropical. Delgado Lopera is the perfect antidote for the Age of Yahoos in which we live.
Recommended by Jaime Manrique, author of "Like This Afternoon Forever" and "Cervantes Street"
Without a doubt, I recommend gifting "(the other house)" by Rocío Carlos and "There Should Be Flowers" by Jennifer Espinoza. These collections present the familiar tropes of the body as queer sources of force and complicated beauty.
Carlos writes, “where is my country / it is a body.”
Espinoza writes, “All the new bodies I’ve made. / All the things I’ve said. / All the women I’ve been.”
For a loved one journeying through life, these collections offer readers direction with a sentimentality we often deny ourselves when we are learning. These books are gentle and complete. Consider them maps for each step we take in life, through our own bodies, through the ghosts they are sometimes made of.
Recommended by Sara Borjas, author of "Heart Like a Window, Mouth Like a Cliff"
Matt Mendez published a truly phenomenal YA novel, "Barely Missing Everything." Set in El Paso, the novel gives us the tale of two good friends, JD and Juan, each of them lit within by big ideas of breaking past the cycle of poverty and family disintegration they face.
Reaching for dreams that others find grossly unrealistic (from making films to playing basketball one day) is part of the heartbreak in following these two, especially when the book asks us to think about how the honesty of our families — our parents, most of all — shapes our lives. But tenacity is here, too, all in a community many of us recognize but hardly ever get to see represented this well. It's a wonderful outing from one of our shining stars — and slated for Spanish translation come springtime.
Recommended by Manuel Muñoz, author of "What You See in the Dark" and "The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue"
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