Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Winter '08 - New Book Announcements

Wenying Xu

The French epicure and gastronome Brillat-Savarin declared, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” Wenying Xu infuses this notion with cultural-political energy by extending it to an ethnic group known for its cuisines: Asian Americans. She begins with the general argument that eating is a means of becoming—not simply in the sense of nourishment but, more importantly, of what we choose to eat, what we can afford to eat, what we secretly crave but are ashamed to eat in front of others, and how we eat. Food, as the most significant medium of traffic between the inside and outside of our bodies, organizes, signifies, and legitimates our sense of self and distinguishes us from others, who practice different foodways. Narrowing her scope, Xu reveals how cooking, eating, and food fashion Asian American identities in terms of race/ethnicity, gender, class, diaspora, and sexuality. She provides lucid and informed interpretations of seven Asian American writers (John Okada, Joy Kogawa, Frank Chin, Li-Young Lee, David Wong Louie, Mei Ng, and Monique Truong) and places these identity issues in the fascinating spaces of food, hunger, consumption, appetite, desire, and orality. Asian American literature abounds in culinary metaphors and references, but few scholars have made sense of them in a meaningful way. Most literary critics perceive alimentary references as narrative strategies or part of the background; Xu takes food as the central site of cultural and political struggles waged in the seemingly private domain of desire in the lives of Asian Americans. Eating Identities is the first book to link food to a wide range of Asian American concerns such as race and sexuality. Unlike most sociological studies, which center on empirical analyses of the relationship between food and society, it focuses on how food practices influence psychological and ontological formations and thus contributes significantly to the growing field of food studies. For students of literature, this tantalizing work offers an illuminating lesson on how to read the multivalent meanings of food and eating in literary texts.

WENYING XU is associate professor of English at Florida Atlantic University. January 2008, ISBN 978-0-8248-3195-0 208 pages, paperback, $29.00

On Latinidad: U.S. Latino Literature and the Construction of Ethnicity Marta Caminero-Santangelo, University Press of Florida Cloth: $59.95 ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-3083-8 Pubdate: 9/30/2007

Refusing to take latinidad (Latino-ness) for granted, Marta Caminero-Santangelo lays the groundwork for a sophisticated understanding of the various manifestations of "Latino" identity. She examines texts by prominent Chicano/a, Dominican American, Puerto Rican, and Cuban American writers--including Julia Alvarez, Cristina García, Achy Obejas, Piri Thomas, and Ana Castillo--and concludes that a pre-existing "group" does not exist. The author instead argues that much recent Latino/a literature presents a vision of tentative, forged solidarities in the service of particular and sometimes even local struggles. She shows that even magical realism can figure as a threat to collectivity, rather than as a signifier of it, because magical connections--to nature, between characters, and to Latin American origins--can undermine efforts at solidarity and empowerment.

In the author's close reading of both fictional and cultural narratives, she suggests the possibility that Latino identity may be even more elastic than the authors under question recognize.

"From the early pages, in which Caminero-Santangelo asks us to explore stories of collective identity implicit in the social construction of Latino-ness, to the conclusion, which breaks through much of the confusion by calling on her readers to think about latinidad as commitment, Caminero-Santangelo gives us something weighty to chew on practically every page, and all of it in her smart, lucid, elegant prose."--Debra A. Castillo, Cornell University

"On Latinidad deals with complex issues in a very sophisticated, critical way. It is useful to scholars working outside the field as an introduction, not only to the background and contexts of Latino Literatures, but also to the current debates, trends, and directions in the field."--Delia M. Poey, Florida State University

Marta Caminero-Santangelo is associate professor of English at the University of Kansas. Marta Caminero-Santangelo Associate Professor, English University of Kansas (785) 864-2529 http://martacamsan.tripod.com/

DIGITIZING RACE: Visual Cultures of the Internet
Lisa NakamuraUniversity of Minnesota Press 304 pages 2007ISBN 978-0-8166-4612-8 hardcover $58.50ISBN 978-0-8166-4613-5 paperback $19.50

Lisa Nakamura, a leading scholar in the examination of race in digital media, looks at the emergence of race-, ethnic-, and gender-identified visual cultures through popular yet rarely evaluated uses of the Internet. While popular media depict people of color and women as passive audiences, Nakamura argues that they use the Internet to vigorously articulate their own types of virtual community, avatar bodies, and racial politics."With Digitizing Race, Lisa Nakamura, one of the most perceptive observers of identity in the digital age, skillfully draws our attention to those taken for granted interfaces at which race and ethnicity are constituted, revealing the centrality of these techno-visual practices to contemporary political culture." —Alondra Nelson

For more information, including the table of contents, visit the book’s webpage:http://www.upress.umn.edu/Books/N/nakamura_digitizing.html

The Latino/a Canon and the Emergence of Post-Sixties Literature
by Raphael Dalleo and Elena Machado Saez
Palgrave Macmillan, 2007
ISBN: 1-4039-7796-8

"The clear and incisive discussions about canon formation, ideologies
and the market are unprecedented and very much needed in the context of
globalization." -”Frances Aparicio, Author of Listening to Salsa

"ÂœDalleo and Machado Saez's intervention enriches the critical
discourse around the writings of U.S. Latino/a authors."-”Silvio
Torres-Saillant, Author of The Dominican Americans and An Intellectual
History of the Caribbean

In the first study of Latino/a literature to systematically examine the
post-Sixties generation of writers, The Latino/a Canon and the
Emergence of Post-Sixties Literature challenges the ways that Latino/a
literary studies imagines the relationship of art, politics and the
market. Dalleo and Machado Saez engage with the major critics from the
field to dispute the consensus view of Latino/a literature from the
1960s as politically committed and resistant to the market versus the
literature of the 1990s as apolitical and assimilationist due to its
commodification. This study argues that post-Sixties writers Pedro
Pietri, Ernesto Quinonez, Abraham Rodriguez, Junot Diaz, Angie Cruz,
Cristina Garcia and Julia Alvarez have not abandoned politics, but are
imagining creative strategies for revitalizing progressive thought
through the market.

Table of Contents: Sell Outs? Politics and the Market in Post-Sixties
Latino/a Literature * Periodizing Latino/a Literature Through Pedro
Pietri's Nuyorican Cityscapes * Mercado Dreams: The End(s) of Sixties
Nostalgia in Contemporary Ghetto Fiction * Movin'™ on Up and Out:
Lowercase Latino/a Realism with Junot Diaz and Angie Cruz * Latino/a
Identity and Consumer Citizenship in Cristina Garcia'™s Dreaming in
Cuban * Writing in a Minor Key: Postcolonial and Post-Civil Rights
Histories in the Novels of Julia Alvarez * New Directions: The
Post-Sixties Miami Imaginary

Raphael Dalleo and Elena Machado Saez are Assistant Professors of
English at Florida Atlantic University.


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