Sunday, March 05, 2006

APB: Latina Book Clubs

Are you a member of a book club either comprised of Latina readers and/or focused on reading books by Latina authors?

If you are, I want to hear from you! Email me at and tell me all about it. And please consider having a website or online forum so authors like me can find y'all!

I know such clubs exist. When I was writing Divas Don't Yield, I did a research trip to Omaha, Nebraska as it's one of the cities in which my heroines stopped on the way from NYC to Frisco (can't tell you more than that and not give away the story!) I was headed to Omaha for a speaking engagement at the University of Nebraska for Black History Month since I was invited to speak about Black women and misogyny in hip hop. After accepting the invitation, I decided to come early and stay later -- extending my time in Omaha for an entire week -- so I could get to know this midwestern city.

During my stay there, I had the pleasure to meet the executive director of the Latina Resource Center (which also makes an appearance in Divas.) She invited me to meet with her book club -- a diverse group of women -- who read books by Latina authors and meet monthly discuss them at a cozy independent bookstore. The group did not consist of just Latinas, but also African American and White women who for one reason or another felt a kinship to Latino cultures. For example, one woman was actually raised in Panama while another taught Spanish literature at the university.

So I got to thinking... if there's a Latina book club in Omaha, NE where the Latino population is young yet booming, surely there must be similar clubs all over the U.S.

The problem, however, is that unlike African American book clubs, it seems that very few Latina book club yet have an online presence. African American women in the U.S. have a very long tradition of coming together to read and discuss books and the issues they raise (one of my favorite authors Gwendolyn Pough is doing research on this very topic and will soon publish a book about it.) These intrepid women, including RAWSISTAZ and A PLACE OF OUR OWN to name only two, have brought this social practice into the new millenium by establishing a presence on the internet. They use listservs and bulletin boards to facilitate and expand their discussions, publish their reviews (especially on Amazon and on their own websites), and hold chats or interviews with authors.

I'd love to see Latinas follow the lead of African American women in this regard. I have no doubt that it's not a matter of "if" but only "when." But whether your club is online
or not, I'd love to know about it and spread the word to other Latina authors.

In fact, if you can make it to Miami Beach on the weekend of May 19th-21st, you will want to attend Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez's Chica Lit Fiesta. You won't have a better opportunity to have a slumber party with some of your favorite Latina writers!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

If you mean will I be at the Chica Lit Fiesta in May, you betcha! As for the annual Miami Book Fair International, I had the pleasure to go this past year (I even have a post about it here.) Hopefully, I'll be invited again this year, but I don't know what the fair's policy is about inviting the same author in consecutive years.