RARA-AVIS: January's Theme

From: Mrriter@aol.com
Date: 18 Nov 2001

Bill asked me to help out with his proposed theme for January: Latino Noir and Hard-boiled Writing. I'm happy to do what I can, but I am no expert on this topic (although I do know something about Mexican-American literature, including Chicano crime fiction, but not much of that is hard-boiled). Since January is six weeks away, mas o menos, I thought I would suggest a reading list of works available in English and solicit suggestions from those of you who have any to offer. All this assumes that Bill keeps this theme for January; it's still listed as "tentative" in his periodic announcement.

First, I'm using the term "Latino" in a very broad way: Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano, Puerto Rican, or Cuban--as well as those whose origins are from Spain, the Spanish-speaking countries of Central or South America, the Dominican Republic or people who identify themselves generally as Spanish, Spanish-American, Hispanic, Hispano, Latino, and so on.

Here's the start of a reading list:

Paco Ignacio Taibo (Mexico/Spain): probably the best-known Latino crime writer; produces the annual Semana Negra conference/party in Gijon, Spain for the International Crime Writers Association; has several books in translation, some of which feature his one-eyed private eye, Hector Belascoaran Shayne-- No Happy Ending; Return to the Same City; and others like Shadow of a Shadow; Four Hands; Just Passing Through, etc.

Daniel Chavarria (Uruguay): Adios Muchachos; set in Cuba, highly amusing and entertaining tale about a Havana prostitute and a kinky con man caught up in a scam that involves sunken pirate treasure off the Cuban coast.

Luis Sepulveda (Chile): The Name of a Bullfighter; nazi gold coins, a cold war spy reduced to working as a bouncer at a German strip club, double-crosses, torture and Tierra del Fuego.

Max Martinez (Chicano): White Leg; Layover. Redneck noir? Gritty plots, sleazy characters and Texas.

Martin Limon (Chicano): Chicano military cop in Korea solves crimes that usually embarrass the brass. Slicky Boys; Jade Lady Burning; Buddha's Money.

Manuel Vazquez Montalban (Spain): Thrillers set in post-Franco Spain featuring Pepe Carvalho, a "fast-living, gourmet, private detective." Murder In The Central Committee; Southern Seas; The Angst-Ridden Executive.

Jose Latour (Cuba): Outcast. Critically acclaimed, as they say, Outcast is this fine writer's first English language novel that takes place in Havana and the southern US.

Alex Abella (Cuban-American): The Killing of the Saints; Dead of Night; Final Acts. Cuban-American lawyer, Charlie Morell, takes on cult killings, corrupt politicians, and the "tortured heart" of his native Cuba.

Abraham Rodriguez (Nuyorican): Spidertown; The Buddha Book. South Bronx tales of teen-aged murder, drugs, sex--real coming-of-age books.

Manuel Ramos www.manuelramos.com

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