Portuguese American Journal

2013: PAJ Holiday Reading Gift List for Booklovers

By Millicent Accardi, Contributor (*)

In 2012, the Portuguese American Journal featured interviews with writers and reviewed many fine books about or by those of Luso heritage. At the beginning of the holiday season, it only seems appropriate we present a Holiday Gift List featuring poetry, fiction and non-fiction by Portuguese-American and Brazilian-American writers. The list below is by no means complete; however, it features some of the most recent books (2010-2012) that PAJ staff has enjoyed. The listed books are readily available online for the holidays. A title for everyone on any gift list. When you purchase and gift these books, you will not only be thanking our Portuguese-American authors for their important creative work, you will also be helping expand our own community by putting books in the hands of new friends, family, scholars, students and readers.


 Darrell Kastin, The Conjurer & and Other Azorean Tales (Tagus Press, 2012), available Dec. 11th) is all about the magic and the everyday. Matching what seems real with that which seems out of this world. 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)

Anthony De Sa, Barnacle Love (Algonquin Books, 2010) is the story of a family, told from differ generations, with the connection being mothers, the sea and a seeking of a better life. In De Sa’s debut, a father and son narrate a revelatory, if disjointed, story spanning two generations of Portuguese-Canadian immigrants. Through a number of trials, including a near-drowning at sea, betrayal by his rescuers and the threat of deportation, Manuel pursues the ghost of his father (who died at sea) and an apparition Manuel calls Big Lips, a fish who appears in times of need and contemplation. (From Publishers Weekly).  

Anthony Barcellos, Land of Milk and Money (Tagus Press, 2012) is the story of the Francisco family, Portuguese immigrants who build a prosperous California dairy farm. As matriarch, Teresa had devoted her life to keeping the peace in her big family. But when she dies long-simmering resentments and feuds burst into the open–and into the courtroom. Teresa, however, had seen it all coming, and her will contains a few surprises.

Robert Henry Moser, Luso-American Literature: Writings by Portuguese-Speaking Authors in North America  (Rutgers University Press, 2011), puts together the first vast collection of all writings Luso, what is not astonishing are the parallels. What IS astonishing is the virtuosity shared by some many distinct voices. This collection seeks to address this lacuna, with a broad mosaic of prose, poetry, essays, memoir, and other writings by more than fifty prominent literary figures–immigrants and their descendants, as well as exiles and sojourners. It is an unprecedented gathering of published, unpublished, forgotten, and translated writings by a transnational community that both defies the stereotypes of ethnic literature, and embodies the drama of the immigrant experience.


Frank X Gaspar, Late Rapturous (Autumn House Press, 2012), from a much beloved poet and novelist. His latest poetry collection explores faith and a longing for home.

“I’m afraid I love everything Portuguese for one of my ancient cousins four or five centuries ago came from Lisbon; but I also like Gaspar’s poems because of their wandering, their long lines, and their secret messages. He has faith in the poem; he knows it will somehow happen. It’s that faith I praise.” —Gerald Stern

Carlo Matos, A School for Fishermen (BrickHouse Books, Inc, 2010), is a poetry collection capturing the Portuguese essence. He has long been a rebel as both a professor and an MMA fighter.

“Fishing nets, dark matter, Fernando Pessoa; Matos deftly weaves all of these strands into a Portuguese-American story about the Dos Santoses, a family that emigrated from the Azores and is now caught in the tangled web of folk wisdom and scientific rationality. –Jay Peters, Portuguese American Journal.

Sam Pereira, The Marriage of the Portuguese (Tagus Press, 2012) joins the poetic with the practical and magical.

“From the haunting title poem to the hard-won wisdom of the concluding section, we see Pereira as a consummate word magician whose easy banter and fresh language constantly defy our expectation with deft leaps and risks.” — David Oliveira

Karen Carissimo, Dream City, (Iris Press, 2012) is a collection of poems which explore the authors’s Portuguese-Hawaiian heritage on the island of Maui.

”While some island residents celebrated a modernized society, others felt deep nostalgia for the

close-knit community of plantation life. This book is meant to memorialize the bravery of those who immigrated to Maui to work in the cane fields, as did her ancestors from Portugal” (Amazon.com).

Traci Brimhall, Our Lady of the Ruins (W. W. Norton & Company, 2012), from a Brazilian-American writer’s award winning poet, her poetry collection is a stunner in sleight of hand or should I say redirection. Her poems constantly create a floor and then remove that floor from beneath our feet, while we blink.

“Poetry for the new century: awake to the world, spiritually profound, and radiant with lyric intelligence.” — Carolyn Forché


Non-fiction & Literary Criticism

From co-authors, Joe Machado, Ferreira Moreno, José do Couto Rodrigues, Power of the Spirit – A Portuguese Journey of Building Faith and Churches in California, (Portuguese Heritage Publications of California, 2012) is the story of a people and their faith which drives their spirit as well as their journey.

Strength and spiritual efforts combined to form core communities responsible for both churches and establishing early towns. And it was the priests who provided much needed guidance and spiritual support with which inspired and led these first travelers to build communities throughout the vast new Western territory of California. Available here.

Rogério Miguel Puga, Chronology of Portuguese Literature: 1128-2000 (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011).

”This is the first Chronology of Portuguese Literature to be published in any language. It presents a comprehensive year-

by-year list of significant and representative works of literature published mainly in Portuguese, from 1128 to the beginning of the current millennium.” (Amazon.com).

George Monteiro, Elizabeth Bishop in Brazil and After: A Poetic Career Transformed (McFarland & Company Incorporated, 2012), is about the life and career of American poet and writer Elizabeth Bishop in Brazil. The book falls into two distinct segments: the pre-Brazil years and the Brazil years and beyond. A creature of displacement from childhood, Bishop traveled to Brazil at the age of 40 for a two-week trip. Unexpectedly, she stayed there for most of the next two decades – a sojourn that marked her work indelibly.





(*) Millicent Borges Accardi is a contributor to the Portuguese American Journal. She is a Portuguese-American poet, the author of three books: Injuring Eternity (World Nouveau), Woman on a Shaky Bridge (Finishing Line Press chapbook), and Only More So (forthcoming from Salmon Press, Ireland). She has received literary fellowships from Canto Mundo, the National Endowment for the Arts, and California Arts Council. Last fall, she was a visiting poet at The Muse Writers Center in Norfolk, VA. Millicent lives in Topanga, CA. Follow her on Twitter @TopangaHippie

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