Portuguese American Journal

2014: Holiday Reading Picks for Booklovers – by Millicent Accardi

By Millicent Borges Accardi, Contributor (*)

This holiday season as a contributor to the Portuguese American Journal (PAJ), it only seems appropriate that I should present my own selected Christmas Gift List, featuring poetry, fiction, non-fiction and other media by and about Luso writers mostly in English, but some bilingual and one book in Portuguese.

The list is by no means comprehensive; however, it does feature recent books (2013-2014) – all of which are available online and in stores for you to consider when doing last minute shopping for the holidays. Many books were reviewed and/or authors interviewed in PAJ this past year. We have two Saudade-titled books as well as recipes and a children’s book and many suggestions for fiction.

Remember, when you “gift” these items, you’ll be thanking writers for their important creative work, and you’ll be expanding our community by putting books in the hands of potential new readers in our global community.

Give a gift that matters. Give books!

Feliz Natal!

Fiction

The Conjurer and other Azorean Tales by Darrell Kastin

Winner of the 2014 USA Best Books Awards, in the Fiction/Multicultural category.

Born from the fertile volcanic soil and the sea and mists surrounding the Azorean islands, the characters who inhabit these stories blend realism with magic. Like the nine Muses, each island has its own special attributes. Whether searching for love, power, or meaning, these characters are subject to the whims of Fate and Fortune. Here the commonplace present confronts forces both natural and supernatural. In the Azorean microcosm, they come to represent a far larger sphere, embodying the foibles and idiosyncrasies of humanity the world over.—Amazon.com

PAJ Interview with Kastin
PAJ Book Review

The Secret Correspondence of Loon and Fiasco by Carlo Matos

Portuguese-American writer Carlo Matos has long been a rebel as both a professor and a MMA fighter.

Carlo Matos takes a mystical sense of Azorean displacement and spins a delightful cat’s-cradle spanning from Fall River to California and featuring the burrito-seeking Johnny and Linda, a teacher in the dying Central Valley. “Fiasco” speaks in binary code to a Loon trying to map out the natural world, only to discover that “When you have no sense of direction…walls are essential to survival.” Lizzie Borden is a patron saint, turkey vultures circle, and Groundhog Day is an anthem as Matos’s poetry offers a fresh view of the Portuguese-American experience. — Katherine Vaz, author of Saudade

PAJ Interview with Carlo Matos

The True Actor by Jacinto Lucas Pires

Politically conscious, cinematic, and everything else that is characteristic of the literature of Lucas Pires, all absorbed into and shaken out in a game of conscience in which he holds all the cards. And this book is his royal flush. – TimeOut Lisbon

The favored prostitute of Lisbon’s rich and powerful has been found dead amid austerity protests in Portugal, and down-on-his-luck actor Americo Abril, who has just won the role of a lifetime playing Paul Giamatti in the avant-garde film Being Paul Giamatti, is the prime suspect. – Amazon.com

Profile: Jacinto Lucas Pires – Essay

Kicking the Sky by Anthony De Sa

Kicking the Sky bridges its polarized worlds, staying true to the humanity in each. It’s one of the best things fiction can do. – National Post

On a steamy summer day in 1977, Emanuel Jaques was shining shoes in downtown Toronto. Surrounded by the strip clubs, bars and body rub parlors of Yonge Street, Emanuel was lured away from his friends by a man who promised some easy money. Four days later the boy’s body was discovered. He had been brutally raped and murdered, and Toronto the Good would never be the same. The murder of the Shoeshine Boy had particularly tragic resonance for the city’s Portuguese community. – Amazon.com

PAJ Interview with Anthony de Sa
PAJ Book Review

Saudade by Miriam Winthrop

This book acts as a fulcrum for 20th-century genealogists of Portuguese-American
ancestry: a “MUST-READ” that may well end up an academic standard. It is a tremendously ambitious and personal accounting, from the first page to the last sentence; and highly successful for the reader too. A “fictional” story clearly based on actual truth through multiple generations, Winthrop’s effort is brutally honest throughout.

It offers reflections on the marginalized and views of the “disconnected” children of immigration toward the mysteries of their ancestral homes (even as they work to unlock those mysteries) as well as any book I’ve read; as well as including those mysteries in a perception of the future. I can’t say “Saudade” is the easiest book to read (although it is well-written), but I can say it is one of the most honest and heartwarming; and that is more than enough to recommend it. Everyone associated with this effort should be very, very proud. – Amazon.com

Skylight by José Saramago

A previously unpublished novel by a literary master, José Saramago, Skylight tells the intertwined stories of the residents of a faded apartment building in 1940s Lisbon.

Silvestre and Mariana, a happily married elderly couple, take in a young nomad, Abel, and soon discover their many differences. Adriana loves Beethoven more than any man, but her budding sexuality brings new feelings to the surface. Carmen left Galicia to marry humble Emilio, but hates Lisbon and longs for her first love, Manolo. Lidia used to work the streets, but now she’s kept by Paulo, a wealthy man with a wandering eye.

These are just some of the characters in this early work, completed by Saramago in 1953 but never published until now. With his characteristic compassion, depth, and wit, Saramago shows us the quiet contentment of a happy family and the infectious poison of an unhappy one. We see his characters’ most intimate moments as well as the casual encounters particular to neighbors living in close proximity. Skylight is a portrait of ordinary people, painted by a master of the quotidian, a great observer of the immense beauty and profound hardships of the modern world. Amazon.com

Poetry

 

The Doors that April Opened by José Carlos Ary dos Santos

list_4aThe Portuguese Studies Program is pleased to announce the publication of a translation of a long poem inspired by the April 25, 1974 Revolution, penned by esteemed writer José Carlos Ary dos Santos with illustrations by António Manuel Moita Pimentel; it comprises one of his several revolutionary poems about the hunger for liberty.

Ary dos Santos has often been known by the appellation “poet of the revolution.” The volume was translated by PSP Associate Director Deolinda Adão and Librarian for Romance Language Collections Claude Potts, utilizing Portuguese language resources at the Doe and Bancroft Libraries. Significantly, the book features illustrations of manuscript pages from the original draft of the epic poem, here published for the first time. The book is available for purchase from the Portuguese Studies Program at IES

Saudades by José “Joe” Gouveia

Saudades is a captivating collection of poems by Cape Cod poet Joe Gouveia that chronicles his life’s journey from growing up as a first generation American to finding his soul mate and confronting terminal illness.

Deeply personal yet exploring such universal themes as family, culture, working class struggles, love and mortality, Saudades is the ultimate expression of a passionate and inspiring contemporary poet. Three-time Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky says: “In a noble American tradition, Gouveia… casts an ever-widening gaze from his local terrain and a generational immigrant past, daring to engage and name whatever he sees.” Latino Poet Martín Espada calls Gouveia “a poet to the bone… (who) writes poems with the clarity and courage wrenched from hard experience.”

PAJ book review by George Monteiro

Quando menino eu lia… I Read as a Boy… by João S. Martins

João S Martins, 59 years old, was born and raised in Manteigas, Portugal. He earned his degree at the Catholic University of Lisbon. During his time in Portugal he dedicated himself to teaching and education, at various levels of public institutions. He first arrived in the U.S. in 1986. Even though he had plans of only staying a month, he decided to relocate to the U.S. permanently with his family.

He has published 7 books: Exercício de Pintura< (poetry); A Estrelinha da Serra (short stories); Cânticos Paralelos (poetry); Intervalo das Palavras (poetry); Quando toda a Esperança é Azul (biography), O seu Nome era Maria (illustrated poem); and Mãos Verdadeiras (poetry). As founder of ProVerbo – the cultural arm of the Portuguese Sport Club of Newark, NJ – he’s organized cultural galas as well as literary events. With Boavista Press, he published Quando menino eu lia…/I read as a boy… (poetry – bilingual edition) in October 2014.

Anthologies

Memória: An Anthology of Portuguese Canadian Writers
by Eduardo Bettencourt Pinto et allii

This slender volume is a testament to the emergence of Portuguese Canadian literature, with more of their words and stories being brought to the attention of more people than ever before. Showcasing contemporary fiction, nonfiction and poetry in order to reflect the changing Portuguese Canadian literary community while supporting new voices in the diaspora, Memória features fifteen writers whose work illustrates a wide range of experiences, narrative voices and sensibilities. – Amazon.com

Children’s Books

 

Maria and the Lost Calf by Kate Morejohn
Illustrated by Dwight Morejohn

list_5This delightful and engaging children’s story, wonderfully illustrated with original watercolors, takes place at the turn of the last century in the Marin headlands, California.

It tells the story of a young farmer’s daughter, Maria, who searches for her favorite calf to be donated to the Holy Ghost Festa, and becomes lost herself looking for it. During her overnight escapade, Maria reminiscences about her home country in the Azores, the family and friends left behind, and her long and hazardous trip from the Azores to California.

This children’s book, the first children’s book from Portuguese Heritage Publications, illustrates the historical presence of the Portuguese-Azorean dairy farmers in the Marin headlands, and Southern and Western Marin County. The book, in English and Portuguese, is appropriate for children ages 2 to 12, both as a read-to, and as an early primer for both English and Portuguese. The author and the illustrator (wife and husband) are native Northern Californians and were raised on ranches.

Book available from Portuguese Heritage Publications of California

Non-fiction and Literary Criticism

 

borderCrossings leituras transatlanticas by Vamberto Freitas

list_6Freitas was born on Terceira Island, in 1951. He emigrated with his family to the US in 1964, where he majored in Latin American Studies from California State University, Fullerton in 1974.

He has been a correspondent and contributor to the literary supplement of the Diário de Notícias (Lisbon) for many years. Since 1991 he has taught at the University of the Azores, and published numerous critical studies on American and Azorean literature.

In addition to its already considerable work on these topics and areas of study, has also published some translations, mainly from Frank X. Gaspar poetry, and continues to work in various periodicals of the archipelago and the Diaspora with literary and cultural criticism texts.

borderCrossings feature articles about Portuguese-American literature and literary criticism. This book is in Portuguese.

Book available from Atlantico Books
list_7

The Portuguese Republic at One Hundred
by Richard Herr and Antonio Costa Pinto

The book examines the Republic which arose after the exile of the monarchy early in the 20th century, life under the Dictatorship, and various cultural aspects of Portuguese civic life such as women’s rights, entrepreneurship, public policy, and the Church.

The Portuguese Republic at One Hundred is available for purchase from the Portuguese Studies Program at IES Berkeley.

Azorean Cooking: From My Family Table to Yours
by Maria Lawton

When Maria Lawton was six years old, her family emigrated from the Azorean Island of São Miguel part of a stunning archipelago off mainland Portugal to New Bedford, MA, a thriving Portuguese community. Like many new Americans, food and cooking were central to Maria’s family; her father’s vegetable garden covered their backyard, and if Maria couldn’t find her mother cooking on the first floor of their three-family house, she was sure to find her grandmother baking something upstairs.

Longing to recreate these important meals for her own family, Maria resolved to document the cooking that was a vital part of her childhood. This quest returned her to São Miguel, where she rediscovered her family’s traditional recipes.

Book: Azorean Cooking – By Maria Lawton – Editor’s Note

My Portugal: Recipes and Stories by George Mendes

“I have long admired George’s thoughtful, evocative cooking at “Aldea”. The stories and recipes in My Portugal show the passion, warmth, and generosity of spirit that make his food so delicious.” – Daniel Patterson, chef of “Coi Restaurant” in San Francisco

“George is a creative genius whose culinary talent shines through each and every one of his dishes. His passion and love for Portuguese cuisine is inspiring and evident in all that he does! His recipes are simply delicious and will leave readers with a strong appreciation for Portugal and its cuisine!” – Eric Ripert, chef of “Le Bernardin” in New York City

Book: My Portugal: Recipes and Stories – by George Mendes – Editor’s Note

California’s Portuguese Politicians – A Century of Legislative Service by Dr. Alvin Graves

list_8“Is it simply a matter of coincidence that the relatively small Portuguese community in California’s San Joaquin Valley is so heavily represented in Congress while New England is not?”

The author, Dr. Alvin Graves, introduces pioneer Portuguese politicians from California’s San Joaquin Valley, on their pathway to Washington DC and the National Congress.

California’s Portuguese Politicians captures the civic and legislative contribution of the Portuguese immigrant community of California to State and National legislations.

From John G. Mattos, a first-generation immigrant from the island of Faial, elected to the California State Assembly in 1900, to David Valadão, a second generation Portuguese Californian elected to the US Congress in 2012, see how Portuguese-Californian immigrants have played a significant role in American politics!

The book can be purchased from the editor Portuguese Heritage Publications of California

PHCP: The Story of a Portuguese-American Publisher – Interview

 

Related Post

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(*) Millicent Borges Accardi is a contributor to the Portuguese American Journal. She is a Portuguese-American poet, the author of three books: Injuring Eternity, Woman on a Shaky Bridge (chapbook), and Only More So (forthcoming). She has received fellowships from CantoMundo, the National Endowment for the Arts, Fundação Luso-Americana (FLAD) and California Arts Council. Recently, she taught poetry at The Muse Writers Center in Norfolk; University of Texas, Austin; The Gathering at Keystone College; Nimrod Conference in Tulsa, and the Mass.Poetry Festival. Millicent lives in Topanga, CA. Follow her on Twitter @TopangaHippie