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Latina Instinct and other New Titles

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  • rcabello
    Floricanto PressLatina Instinct. By Michel Estrada. Translated by Robert Nasatir. ISBN:978-0-915745-71-5. 295 pages Floricanto Press 2006. $ 24.95
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 11, 2006
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       Latina Instinct. By Michel Estrada. Translated by Robert Nasatir. ISBN:978-0-915745-71-5. 295 pages Floricanto Press 2006. $ 24.95             

      In Michel Estrada's Latina Instinct, Carmen leaves her modest life in rural Pinar del Río to attend the University of Havana . When she gets there, she confronts the harsh reality of contemporary Cuban life. Latina Instinct is an exceptional document of daily life in today's Havana , faithfully recording the challenging existence of university students struggling to make the grade. Before she can learn from her trials, Carmen must mature amidst the dangerous and complex streets of Havana . Michele Estrada's novel offers the first honest and riveting glance to present-day Cuban urban life.

                  She attends the University to study computer science but the politics of academic life and the demands of school are quickly upstaged by the excitement and danger of Havana . She rooms with a group of experienced students who teach her how to get along: studious Paula, playful Dunia, naïve Monica, and Lili, the free-spirit. And the men in Carmen_s life are equally important:  Arturo, the womanizing fifth-year student, and Sebastián, the debonair Spanish businessman. When Carmen first meets them, she is gullible, but each teaches her a valuable lesson by example, and they are not always good examples. She learns about survival, both at school and in the city, but the most important lessons are those that she can only learn on her own.

                  Over the course of a year, Carmen encounters good and bad relationships, short-lived and lasting friendships. Her innocence leads her into difficult situations, but her wits, and a little luck, get her out of them. Along the way, Carmen changes from an innocent country girl thrown into the big city to an experienced and savvy young woman equipped to face the challenges of present-day Cuba .


       

      Latina Icons:Iconos Femeninos Latinos e hispanoamericanos. Edited by María Claudia André.La Mujer Latina Series  ISBN:  978-0-915745-85-2. Floricanto Press, 2006. $26.95

      This books brings the most prominent Latino icons, popular figures, and it provides the most important clear description of the process of iconization of the most cherished female Latin American figures. This book attempts to define and provide meaning to these popular women within context of popular symbols and the function these women played in the construction of their individual and collective identity. These articles, written by well-known Latin Americanists, many of them Latinos themselves, reflect a most revealing landscape of iconization of these Latinas ranging from religious, political, and popular articulation. These images help us understand the complex discursive process of the creation of popular images, and the influence that institutions and cultural

      traditions play in their creation. La Malinche, the movie actress Maria Felix, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Maria Ilonza, Frida Khalo, Selena, Yemayá, Carmen Miranda, and Malena, the woman object of the most notable Tango, are among the figures discussed in this extraordinary book.

       Esta colección de ensayos explora los procesos de representación y de iconización de algunas de las figuras femeninas más prominentes de América Latina. En ella se intenta definir qué significado tienen estas figuras dentro del contexto popular y determinar cuál es la función que desempeñan en la construcción de una identidad colectiva e individual. Los ensayos aquí incluidos presentan un revelador panorama sobre las múltiples articulaciones entre lo religioso, lo político y lo popular que nos permite vislumbrar no sólo la compleja red discursiva que circula a través de los diversos medios de producción cultural, sino también establecer el nivel de participación e influencia que ejercen de los organismos institucionales en la construcción de símbolos, imágenes y tradiciones culturales. La Malinche, la actriz del cine Maria Félix, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, María Ilonza, Frida Khalo, Selena, Yamayá, Carmen Miranda, y Malena, la mujer centro del tango mas famoso escrito, son las figuras femeninas aquí discutidas extensivamente en este extraordinario libro.


       

       

      Carnival King: The Last Latin Monarch. By Brent Alan James. ISBN: 978-0-915745-78-4. Floricanto Press 2006.  $25.95

       In April of 1993, Brazilian voters were given a choice between continuing with a president, adopting a prime minister and parliament, or bringing back its long dormant monarchy. Carnival King is the story of what might have happened had they opted for the latter.  Outlawing the G-string bikini on Rio de Janeiro_s beaches! Auctioning the country_s name to the highest bidder! A police escort for thousands of shantytown dwellers as they descend upon downtown Rio to call for freedom! These are just a few changes one can expect when a nation bending under the strain of democracy decides to give monarchy another try.

      As Brazil prepares to receive its new king - the fourth in its history, but the first in one hundred years - it seems lawmakers have accounted for every eventuality, except for one tiny detail: identifying the legitimate Brazilian heir to the throne, when the Supreme Court suddenly disqualifies the Portuguese descendant.

      Needless to say, after one hundred years of Republicanism, Brazilian royalty isn't what it used to be. So it is not surprising that when the young man entrusted with the king's care, Marcos Antonio, meets his charge, he is less than awed. Brazil's home-grown monarch is an unkempt, thirty-something supermarket employee with a penchant for deep-fried pork, amateur climatology, and karaoke. His name: Reginaldo Santos - but you can call him "Reggie." It is Marcos' job to shepherd Reggie from the Brazilian countryside to the former, now present, imperial capital of Rio de Janeiro, and shape this rather unhewn figure into a model of regal proportion.

      Behind every great man there's another man dressed as a woman, and Reginaldo Santos is no exception. Bored with the monotony of his royal treatment, Reggie hits the town and meets a fellow monarch of sorts: the dazzling Marcela Seville, a drag queen who spends her nights on stage entertaining the endless stream of foreigners that flood Rio_s Copacabana strip. Marcela suggests to the naïve king that there's much more to the city than what he views from his palace window, and challenges him to see another reality behind the neon and sunscreen.

      When Reggie isn't busy debating with Marcela the pros and cons of tropical climates, he can be found at Rio's National Library reading up on his royal ancestry. From these readings, brought to life through a series of vignettes that intertwine with Reggie's story, we learn more about his predecessor, Dom Pedro II, another reluctant monarch, who, at the tender age of fifteen, inherited the kingdom of Brazil. These flashbacks to the nineteenth century tell the story of young Pedro's growth as a leader, achieved through his courageous support for abolition, a position he takes against his advisor_s counsel and in direct conflict with his own dynastic interests. For young Pedro the political battle grows quite personal, as he witnesses first-hand the injustices of slavery when his fate becomes unavoidably entwined with that of a slave woman, Clara, and her son, Jacob. 

       Meanwhile, one hundred years after the abolition of slavery, Reginaldo Santos must come to grips with lingering inequalities in modern Brazil, and help the citizenry take that next step from emancipation to full participation in the democratic process. The societal challenges Reginaldo and Pedro face may differ, but the struggle is ultimately the same: to rekindle their subjects_ desire for freedom, even when it may signal the end of their rule. And to find, along the way, one's true self beneath the robes of a king. 

       This comedy about Brazilian politics and history rests on the premise that the 1993 plebiscite on what form of government voters preferred_parliamentary, presidential, or monarchical_actually favored the latter. While the premise is imaginary (voters actually favored presidentalism), James has captured the cynical mood of Brazilian politics amazingly well and his characters _ a cast that includes reluctant monarchs, corrupt politicians, over-zealous cops, street vendors, and denizens of Rio de Janeiro_s night life _ jump off the page as true life figures, recognizable to anyone who has spent time in Brazil. James has a delightful narrative style and his characters speak in crisp, modern dialogue. This is a thoroughly enjoyable story by an up-and-coming first author. Buy it now!  

      Michael Conniff, Professor of Brazilian history, San José State University. Author of Modern Brazil: elites and masses in historical perspective and Africans in the Americas: a history of the Black Diaspora.


       

                   Floricanto Press   presents other new titles on the Collected works of Bruno Estañol, a leading short story writer, who has gained strong following in the United States, Europe, Latin America, particularly Mexico; the poetry--Jalapeño Blues-- of Trinidad Sánchez, Jr, a well-known Latino poet, who has captured vast audiences in the United States with his lyric social commentary; La Picardía Chicana: Latino Folk Humor. Folklore Latino Jocoso by José  R. Reyna, a life work, thirty-years of research, explores the rich satirical tradition of popular Mexican, Chicano cultures; and  Luis Zapata's Strongest Passion is a novel of sexual discovery, love and Latino gay passion; Crypto-Jews living among Hispanics in the Southwest; Illegal immigration and the perspective of Mexican-Americans on this pressing controversy. The issues of self-identity, and historical roots between borders are also explored in seminal titles, such as Salvation of the Purisíma .
      Bruno Estañol

       

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