Intimate Portraits in Times of Crisis

DetransitoDe tránsito
Author: Martha Bátiz Zuk
Publisher: Terranova Editores
Santo Domingo, 2014
Review by Néstor E. Rodríguez

In “Writing Short Stories”, one of the few essays rescued from the personal writings of Flannery O’Connor after her death in 1964, the American writer defines the story as “a dramatic event that involves a person, because he is a person, and a particular person—that is, because he shares in the general human condition and in some specific human situation.” O’Connor’s comments on the art of writing stories are enlightening for an analysis of the superb short story collection De tránsito(2014), by Mexican-Canadian writer Martha Bátiz, recently published by the Puerto Rican publisher Terranova.

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A Bittersweet Tribute to Magical Realism

House of Impossible LovesThe House of Impossible Loves
Author: Cristina López Barrio
Translator: Lisa Carter
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Boston, 2013
Review by Carla Martínez

Synopsis: “The Laguna women have borne a terrible curse for as long back as the family lineage can be traced: all have suffered from lovesickness and have given birth only to daughters who perpetuate their cruel inheritance. But when, after decades of forbidden passions and tragic loves, the first male Laguna is born, a door of hope opens up. Could this be the end of the curse?”

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Poets of Love and Exile

Lumbre y relumbreLumbre y Relumbre
Editors: Julio Torres-Recinos, Margarita Feliciano
Publisher: Lugar Común
Ottawa, 2013

Review by Natalia Gnecco

Its literary compositions span from Vancouver to Fredericton, passing through Calgary, Saskatoon, Ottawa, Toronto, London and Montreal, touching us along the way with an exquisiteness of language that evokes themes as sublime as the longing for a lost love, and even experiences as challenging as immigrating to a foreign country without losing one’s identity.

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To Diversify or not to Diversify

Diversification in the Language IndustryDiversification in the Language Industry
Author:  Nicole Y. Adams
Publisher: NYA Communications
Brisbane, 2013

Review by Nikki Graham

Honesty is the best policy, so I will admit that when I first heard of this book my reaction was firmly in the “why is diversification necessary” camp. After all, I gave up teaching to translate because heading off to classes for a few hours every day was not compatible with being available to translate for clients full-time, at least not as far as I was concerned. And I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to teaching part-time out of necessity. It might surprise you then that I bothered to buy it if that was how I felt. Why did I feel the need to read a book that announces on the back cover that it “will inspire today’s translators and set them up for success beyond translation” (their italics, not mine)?

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The Monarch Connection

Flight of the ButterfliesFlight of the Butterflies
Director: Mike Slee
Studio: SK Films/Sin Sentido Films
Canada/Mexico, 2012

Review by Martin Boyd

When I founded Diálogos in 2006, my wife suggested adopting a monarch butterfly as the company logo. Apart from its obvious aesthetic appeal, the symbolic power of the monarch seemed perfect; what could be a better logo for a Toronto-based company whose purpose is to promote dialogue between English- and Spanish-speaking worlds than a butterfly that makes an incredible 4,000 kilometre journey between Mexico and Canada every year? But I’d never given much more thought than this to the amazing story of the monarch until this week, when I had the opportunity of seeing Mike Slee’s documentary Flight of the Butterflies at the gala opening of MexFest at Scotiabank Theatre.

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A Reading Peppered with Revelations

EtcheverryApocalipsis con Amazonas
Author: Jorge Etcheverry
Publisher: Antares
Toronto, 2014

Review by Marcelo Novoa

“In contrast with the Anglo-American school, Latin American fantastic literature does not constitute a clearly defined movement: it is mixed inextricably with general literature, free of stifling cultural histories, and at the same time shaped by the multiple breeding grounds of the countries that produce it, demonstrating a remarkable vitality and originality, much greater than that which prevails in the attempts at genres such as science fiction or crime fiction in the same geographic region.” – Elvio Gandolfo, Antología de Literatura Fantástica Latinoamericana (1971)

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The Suspended Cry of the Poem

Author: Teobaldo Noriega
Publisher: Lugar Común
Ottawa, 2013

Review by Clinton Ramírez Contreras

Wayfarer, the latest collection of poetry by Teobaldo Noriega, brings together a selection of poems in Spanish and English from his books Candela viva (1984), Duende de noche (1988), Ars amandi (1998), Polvo enamorado (2001), Doliente piel de hombre (2005) and Las orillas del canto (2012). This painstakingly and astutely chosen selection has been rendered in English by the Colombian translator Ana María Correa, a resident of Santa Marta, where she works as a teacher.

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The Many Faces of Spanish

The Story of SpanishThe Story of Spanish
Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

London, 2013

Review by Dwain Richardson

According to 2012 statistics prepared by the Cervantes Institute, Spanish is the native language of some 500,000,000 people. It has official status in 21 countries, and 18,000,000 people worldwide are learning Spanish as a foreign language. Indeed, Spanish is now the world’s second or third most widely spoken language. With such compelling statistics, one might ask: How did Spanish become so important in the world today? Why are so many people learning it? Answers to these questions, and many others, can be found in The Story of Spanish.

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A Milestone in Hispanic-Canadian Literature

CloudburstCloudburst: An Anthology of Hispanic Canadian Short Stories
Editors:  Luis Molina Lora, Julio Torres-Recinos
Publisher: University of Ottawa Press
Ottawa, 2013

Review by Martin Boyd

In 2008, the publication of the anthology edited by Luis Molina Lora and Julio Torres-Recinos, Retrato de una nube. Primera antología del cuento hispano canadiense ["Portrait of a Cloud: First Anthology of Hispanic Canadian Short Fiction"] marked a milestone in Hispanic Canadian literature: the first anthology exclusively dedicated to short stories written by Hispanic Canadian authors. Five years later, the appearance of the translation of the same anthology into English, under the title Cloudburst: An Anthology of Hispanic Canadian Short Stories, published by University of Ottawa Press, marks another milestone: the first anthology of Hispanic Canadian short stories translated into English, making the richness and diversity of Hispanic Canadian short fiction available to English-speaking readers for the first time.

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A Comic Look at the Two Mexicos

Nosotros los Nobles
Director: Gaz Alazraki
Studio: Alazraki Films
Mexico, 2013

Review by Martin Boyd

It is no secret to most Mexicans that the central issue underlying all the turmoil that has affected their country in recent years – from the violence of the so-called “drug war” to the teacher protests that have brought Mexico City to a standstill on several occasions this year – is the growing gap between rich and poor. The Mexican economy has expanded considerably in recent decades to turn the country into one of the world’s economic superpowers; nevertheless, only a select group of Mexicans have benefited from the revenues earned from the country’s increasing productivity. Mexico’s economic inequality has led many commentators to speak of the emergence of “two Mexicos”, “one that is the beneficiary of neoliberal globalization, and the other that receives scarcely a few drops of the wealth that is created” (Agustín Basave, El Universal).

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