Book Fair features Latino voices

Dallas' International Book Fair to feature variety of Latino voices
Dallas Morning News, October 10, 2009

The need for Latino voices in the American literary landscape keeps growing.

There's just one problem: Publishers still don't understand the multiple Latino groups in the country and are looking for one-size-fits-all authors.

"They're still searching for that one Latino voice to represent all Latino cultures, and it doesn't exist," says Max Rodríguez , founder and publisher of QBR The Black Book Review.

His HBF Publishing, a print-on-demand collaboration with Author Solutions Inc., targets African-American and Latino readers and writers.

Rodríguez will conduct a workshop for aspiring authors during the fourth International Book Fair in Dallas from Oct. 29 through Nov. 1.

About 40 national and international authors will participate in the book fair, sponsored by the Dallas Public Library. The event will feature artistic and cultural performances, multilingual story times, dance and musical performances, plays, writing workshops, music and children's activities. Check the schedule at www.dallas internationalbookfair.com.

Rodríguez, who works with black and Latino writers to help them develop their craft, will talk about the Latino reader market and how to identify it.

Rather than becoming more cohesive, he said, this market has become more segmented and poses a conundrum for publishers: "It's both similar and very distinct. It's become a Rubik's cube – how do we bring it all together?"

Perhaps we can't, when we consider the second- and third-generation Latinos whose language has become urbanized, he said.

Daniel García Ordaz, who calls himself the "Poet Mariachi," is a good example of just how eclectic and multifaceted the U.S. Latino culture has become.

García Ordaz, who teaches English in McAllen, will share excerpts from his new book, You Know What I'm Sayin'?, on Oct. 31 at the downtown library.

He said his collection of poetry juxtaposes the politics of urban hip-hop America with the sociology of rural, deep South Texas, where he grew up.

On a typical day as a youth, he could go from watching MTV or listening to rap music to helping his mother make tamales, he said.

"Many Chicano poets tend to focus on the negative," he said "This book is a celebration of my life and culture. I'm having fun with the language."

Miriam Rodríguez, assistant director of public services for the library, said she expects the public will find the book fair was designed to be both educational and enjoyable.

"It also reflects the diverse community that Dallas has become," she said.

The broad range of writers, performers and activities at the book fair is designed to attract every age group of book lovers – and music aficionados.

Fans of Mexican singer José José will have a chance to see the famed performer, who sang to sold-out audiences in 100,000-seat venues during the 1980s, at the central library Oct. 30.

He will be interviewed by a local Spanish-language radio host, and then autograph his book, José José, Esta Es Mi Vida (This is My Life). The book contains a CD of his most popular songs.

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