“Where Sybaritic Cyber Seekers Find Themselves.”  ©

     

Description: image005

 

 

                             

 

                      

 

                     

 

                        

 

                                     

                                

 

 

 

                      SPOTLIGHT ON HIMILCE NOVAS IN LA BLOGA

                      http://labloga.blogspot.com/2007/11/spotlight-on-himilce-novas.html

 

                        

 

 

  

 

ARTE PUBLICO PRESS           RIVERHEAD/PUTNAM-PENGUIN

(hardcopy)                                      (paperback)

 

                                                        

 ALL THINGS CONSIDERED/NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO

 

"Himilce Novas seems capable of making miracles herself, resuscitating the by-now shop worn mode of magical realism and turning it to her own satirical purposes[...]With a recklessness that's really refreshing, the writer makes ferocious fun of a number of elements quite dear to Cuban life--love and destiny, the power of manhood, fidelity and betrayal, family and religion. Best of all, she never forgets her responsibility to tell a good, engrossing story, in this case a tale of nature and perversion, vision and blindness..."

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

 

"A disarming blend of magic realism and pungent social satire, this extraordinary debut novel is an incandescent tale of love, double incest, mistaken identity and immigrant dreams[...]her lyrical, fiercely intelligent novel, crammed with mystical phenomena and allusions to pop culture, adroitly probes the pressures facing immigrants adjusting to Yanqui realities."

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

 

"It is Novas' most impressive achievement that she has turned around what society would regard as two fundamental evils and made them into profound affirmations [...] Novas challenges notions of good and evil and shows the shadings that exist in most human actions. By doing so, she has lifted Mangos, Bananas and Coconuts to the level of myth--about the pain of separation and exile in the Cuban condition, the Latin condition and the human condition."

 

SCRIPPS-HOWARD NEWS SERVICE

 

    "The novel is beautifully written, with mysterious  underpinnings and mythic overtones."

HOUSTON CHRONICLE

 

"Mangos, Bananas and Coconuts satisfies the appetite."

 

    

THE WOMEN'S REVIEW OF BOOKS/VOL. XIII

 

"This book reads like the Clytemnestra story translated into a Cuban American context with a magic realist twist. Mangos, Bananas and Coconuts--tropical fruits that here become three popular sexist images of women--is a richly evocative novella [...]This is a man's book, even if it was written by a woman. All the most climactic scenes, whether of religious conversion or sexual conquest, are defined by large, thrusting male members and other such symbols of a culture feminists have come to distrust. Novas is much more satisfying when she describes what life is like for the female transplant in our Latin ghettos:

"She felt scared, too scared to really be connected to mundane things like plays or school or friends at PS 155. What she accomplished she thought she did by imitation, or maybe thanks to a sixth sense that ran her life on automatic pilot. There was always a little tremor going on inside her, like the rumble of the Lexington Avenue subway rattling the grids on the street. She was the street, and her fear was the train, running on her tracks any time it pleased."

Now that's writing that sings. Mangos, Bananas and Coconuts [...]is a book that's hard to put down [...]some scenes will haunt the reader long after she has turned the final page."

SANTA BARBARA NEWS-PRESS

 

"Himilce Novas' satiric Latin fable is sweet, dark and twisted by turn and only the "happily ever after" is what it used to be [...] [the novel] takes the tale of Tristan and Isolde, reshuffles its characters and thematic elements and turns the whole myth on its head by transforming it from a tragedy into an unsettling triumph of love [...] The wonderful part of "Mangos, Bananas and Coconuts" is Novas' forgiving grace that inspires tenderness, horror and amusement in the same breath. Her spritely style and sense of humor combine to make this a sweetly appealing novel that calls at every moment on uncommon emotional chords

         

                                    Description: image039Description: bookcat

 

                             Dear Himilce: Lan Cao gave me your extraordinary book Mangos, Bananas and Coconuts.”

                                         I read the whole book aloud to my husband. I love your poetic prose, your humor and your love for

                                            your characters. It is such a joy to “discover” an author to cherish, recommend and follow!

                                             Congratulations! Love, Isabel Allende.”

 

                                                                                                                                                      

    

 

Speed Reader
By Jessica English, Tracey L. Cooley, Devin O'Leary, Julie Birnbaum

Mangos, Bananas and Coconuts
by Himilce Novas (Riverhead, paper, $12)

Within the first paragraph of Mangos, Bananas and Coconuts, Himilce Novas explains that this is a Cuban love story about Esmeralda and Juan, twins separated at birth. Here that feverishly curious immoral side of me is piqued, and I already love this book. The irony is that Novas treats this taboo of a brother's love for his own sister as something pure and innocent, and even ideal, as each twin finds in the other the missing half. Esmeralda communicates with lizards and Morpho butterflies; Juan, a prominent architect, was raised as a rich exilado in Miami, and their father is a sweet yet twisted religious zealot. These characters are the groundwork for a satire about the separation of classes and the search for fulfillment in our society, but it is still an extraordinarily erotic love story. Novas' prose is dense--recommended to be consumed slowly and savored like poetry. (JE)

    

           

 FINNISH TRANSLATION

Mangos, Bananas and Coconuts: A Cuban Love Story: A Cuban Love Story

Publishers Weekly; Himilce Novas. Arte Publico (191p) ISBN 1-55885-092-9

A disarming blend of magic realism and pungent social satire, this extraordinary debut novel is an incandescent tale of love, double incest, mistaken identity and immigrant dreams. In Cuba in the late 1950s, Christian faith healer Arnaldo Saavedra conducts a love affair with Patricia Ona, daughter of the owner of the local sugar mill. Patricia dies giving birth to a daughter, Esmeralda, whom Arnaldo kidnaps and takes to Spanish Harlem. But Arnaldo remains unaware that, shortly before she died, Patricia also gave birth to Esmeralda's twin brother, Juan. Adopted at birth by his wealthy grandparents, the boy eventually moves with them to Miami's Cuban exile community. Throughout her youth, Esmeralda is sexually abused by Arnaldo, who rationalizes the incest as sacred love, a vicarious communion with Patricia. On her 29th birthday, Esmeralda meets Juan--now a melancholy, Yale-educated portrait painter who, on an irresistible impulse, has traveled to New York. Unaware of their common blood, the two fall in love, their incestuous relationship triggering the jealous rage of Arnaldo, who ultimately realizes that his daughter's suitor is his missing son. Poet, playwright and journalist Novas (Everything You Need to Know about Latino History) saddles her wondrous tale with an unsatisfying and disturbing denouement that's tragic and upbeat at once. Even so, her lyrical, fiercely intelligent novel, crammed with mystical phenomena and allusions to pop culture, adroitly probes the pressures facing immigrants adjusting to Yanqui realities. (Mar.)

                                                                                 
                                                                        Arte Publico Press

 

PRINCESS PAPAYA weaves santeria, transgender identity, and the resistance struggle in contemporary Cuba into an intense, rhapsodic story of a Cuban American Jewish family torn apart by tragedy and intrigue. Caught up in this intrigue is a compelling cast of characters: a deaf-mute child with uncanny spiritual powers, the unlikely seed of a santera princess and a doctor whose greed precipitates a descent into his worst nightmares; a poet struggling to regain her Muse who mourns the death of her husband, a victim of September 11 and “the crash that turned him into a human bomb”; her heteroclite, extraordinary lover, a Native American who escorts her from grief to grace; and a brother who, as a rabbinical student, is riven by his family’s sins, endures torture in Castro’s dungeons and ultimately triumphs over his demons and the lust for revenge.

 

 

A WELL-WROUGHT URN, A MASTERFULLY TOLD TALE THAT LEAVES EACH ONE TO PONDER A NEWLY-MINTED QUESTION: AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER?

 

Himilce Novas

December, 2004, 240 pages, Trade Paperback

ISBN 1-55885-436-3, $12.95

 

A thrilling novel intertwining one Cuban-American Jewish family’s personal tragedy with the contemporary struggle in Cuba

 

Roberto Lobo receives anonymous calls in the night.  Voices whisper threats in his ear.  His fear drives him to seek the help of Ideliza Mercado, Princess Papaya and Priestess of the Barrio.  Roberto hopes Princess Papaya’s powerful knowledge of santería will end his torment.  Hiding in the shadows is Ideliza and Roberto’s deaf-mute son, Bembé.  Across the city, Victoria Lobo, a Jewish, Cuban-American poet, mourns the death of her husband, Francisco, until a chance meeting with Bembé brings her closer to her brother and the disappearance that has plagued her family for twenty years. 

 

From this web of characters spins an intense story of desire and intrigue, forging the lives of Roberto and his sister, Victoria, Ideliza Mercado and her son, Bembé, and Cooper, a mysterious stranger who is more involved in their stories than they may guess.  A unique cast of characters populate this rhapsodic, magically real tour de force: a hydrocephalic child with uncanny spiritual; a doctor whose greed precipitates a descent into his worst nightmares; a grieving poet struggling to regain her muse; and a man who fights to survive torture and the neglect of his family.  

 

Taking us from the 9-11 tragedy in New York City to the political dungeons in Cuba to the vineyards of Santa Barbara, Novas weaves santería; gender, transgender, and sexuality politics; and the resistance movement in contemporary Cuba. 

 

    

                                                        

 Description: animonkeytalks

 

EMAIL TO BOOK HIMILCE NOVAS TO SPEAK Description: ani at for email jap

                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                              

 

Description: ani-monkeyshakesheadAMAZON.COM: HOW DID YOU BEGIN WRITING? DID YOU INTEND TO BECOME AN AUTHOR, OR DO YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC REASON OR REASONS FOR WRITING EACH BOOK?

Description: image026H.N. I BEGAN WRITING BECAUSE I WAS BORN THE YEAR OF THE MONKEY AND MONKEY SEE MONKEY DO--BOTH MY PARENTS WERE WRITERS. I DON'T THINK I EVER THOUGHT OF MYSELF AS ANYTHING OTHER THAN A WRITER (A POET FIRST, OF COURSE, AS  POETRY IS THE ESSENCE OF ALL FICTION). SO, IN A SENSE IT WASN'T A CHOICE--JUST A KIND OF SPIRITUAL DETERMINISM. MY REASONS FOR WRITING A BOOK VARY.

I WRITE FICTION (MANGOS, BANANAS AND COCONUTS: A CUBAN LOVE STORY + PRINCESS PAPAYA & ONE IN THE WORKS, TWO NOVELS OUT NEXT YEAR ++SHORT STORIES ETC. PLUS NON-FICTION (EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LATINO HISTORY; EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ASIAN AMERICAN HISTORY; THE HISPANIC 100; REMEMBERING SELENA; SECADA! PASSPORT SPAIN; LATIN AMERICAN COOKING ACROSS THE USA, ETC).

THE DIFFERENCE: FICTION TELLS ME AND I TELL NON-FICTION.

Description: ani-monkeyshakesheadAMAZON.COM: WHAT AUTHORS DO YOU LIKE TO READ? WHAT BOOK OR BOOKS HAVE HAD A STRONG INFLUENCE ON YOU OR YOUR WRITING?

Description: image026H.N. I HAVE A PANTHEON OF AUTHORS WHO HAVE BEEN MY EARTHLY SPIRIT GUIDES THROUGH THE YEARS--AND EACH YEAR THE TEMPLE GROWS. I DON'T FORSAKE THE OLD FOR THE NEW BECAUSE EACH ONE IS A LINK IN THE GOLDEN CHAIN OF MY EVOLUTION.

SO, AUTHORS: EDNA O'BRIEN, WILLIAM FAULKNER, LINO NOVAS CALVO, GUILLERMO CABRERA INFANTE, JD SALINGER, MARY BAKER EDDY, STEVE GUTTERMAN, DOROTHY ALLISON, WALT WHITMAN, WB YEATS, JOHN DONNE, SHAKESPEARE, THE TRANSLATORS OF THE KING JAMES BIBLE, TRUMAN CAPOTE, KEATS,VICTOR VILLASENOR, ANA CASTILLO, DANTE, PROUST, SALVATORE QUASIMODO, CAMILO JOSE CELA, ROSALIA DE CASTRO, GARCIA LORCA, GONGORA, JUAN RULFO, UNAMUNO, HARPER LEE, ME.

Description: ani-monkeyshakesheadAMAZON.COM: COULD YOU DESCRIBE THE MUNDANE DETAILS OF WRITING: HOW MANY HOURS A DAY DO YOU DEVOTE TO WRITING? DO YOU WRITE A DRAFT ON PAPER OR AT A KEYBOARD (TYPEWRITER OR COMPUTER)? DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE LOCATION OR TIME OF DAY (OR NIGHT) FOR WRITING? WHAT DO YOU DO TO AVOID -- OR SEEK! -- DISTRACTIONS?

Description: image026H.N. I WRITE STRAIGHT INTO THE COMPUTER AND I WRITE OFTEN BUT NOT ALWAYS THE SAME. MEANING: IN MY HEAD I'M WRITING ALL THE TIME BECAUSE I'M INTERPRETING AND REINTERPRETING PRESENT, PAST, FUTURE. WHEN I HAVE A SPECIFIC WORK IN MIND WHICH HAS UNDERGONE A PERIOD OF CONSCIOUS AND UNCONSCIOUS GESTATION, I TURN MY HAND TO THE KEYBOARD THE WAY A FARMER TURNS HER HAND TO THE PLOUGH.

CURRENTLY, I'VE FINISHED A NOVEL, PRINCESS PAPAYA, TO BE PUBLISHED IN 2004 AND AM WORKING ON TWO OTHERS WHICH WILL PROBABLY EMERGE WHOLE CIRCA 2005.

I SHOW UP FOR WORK UPON WAKING (AFTER CLEARING DAILY BIZ THINGS AND FINISHING WHATEVER TEACHING ASSIGNMENTS OR LECTURES) AND THEN JUST WRITE UNTIL I HAVE NO MORE TO SAY THAT DAY.

OF COURSE I TAKE BREAKS, WALK AROUND, GO TO LUNCH ETC, BUT TRY TO STAY CLOSE TO HOME BECAUSE IT'S HARD TO BE EXPOSED TO OUTSIDE STIMULI WHEN YOU'RE REELING FROM THE INWARD KIND. I USED TO BE A DAY PERSON, BUT LATELY FIND MYSELF WRITING INTO THE WEE HOURS AND ENJOYING THE SILENCE AND MY CAT’S EYES ON THE MONITOR (HER TREE).

Description: ani-monkeyshakesheadAMAZON.COM: DO YOU MEET YOUR READERS AT BOOK SIGNINGS, CONVENTIONS OR SIMILAR EVENTS? DO YOU INTERACT WITH YOUR READERS ELECTRONICALLY THROUGH E-MAIL OR OTHER ON-LINE FORUMS?

Description: image026H.N. YES YES YES AND YES.

 Description: ani-monkeyshakesheadAMAZON.COM: WHEN AND HOW DID YOU GET STARTED ON THE 'NET? ARE YOU ABLE TO COMMUNICATE WITH OTHER WRITERS OR PEOPLE YOU WORK WITH OVER THE 'NET?

Description: image026H.N. GOT STARTED 25 YEARS AGO. LOVED IT. LOVE IT MORE NOW. I AM ACTUALLY AN ACCIDENTAL “WEBBY”AND HAVE BEGUN EXPERIMENTING WITH  HYPERTEXT LITERATURE.

    

                            Description: http://us.penguingroup.com/static/covers/all/9/5/0452284759L.jpgDescription: http://us.penguingroup.com/static/covers/all/9/5/0452284759L.jpgDescription: http://us.penguingroup.com/static/covers/all/9/5/0452284759L.jpg

                                                   

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ASIAN AMERICAN HISTORY, by Himilce Novas, co- authored with Lan Cao (Plume/Penguin USA, 1996; 2003).   

Book: Paperback | 5.31 x 8.03in | 432 pages | ISBN 0452284759 | Jul 2004 | Plume

A comprehensive guide to Asian-American history

One can hardly understand American history without knowing the crucial role people of Asian ancestry have played in shaping our past, politics, and culture.  Exploding myths and stereotypes, with more than fifty pages of new material, this absorbing and accessible reference answers such questions as:

·        Where and when did the history of Chinese America begin?

·        What is Zen?

·        Why do Filipinos have Spanish names?

·        How did the U.S. get involved in Vietnam?

·        What is the difference between Hindu and Hindi?

And much, much more.

In a lively question-and-answer format, Everything You Need to Know About Asian-American History provides a complete understanding of the traditions and ideas that people of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, and Pacific Island descent have contributed to American life.

Everything You Need To Know About Asian American History
Lan Cao, Himilce Novas

Finally, a primer on Asian American history that anyone can read. The book covers Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Southeast Asian, çKorean, East Indian, and Pacific Islander Americans. Their histories and cultures (sometimes pop cultures) are explained in a question/answer format, addressing questions like "What is Little Saigon," "How serious is the Vietnamese gang problem?" and "What is the significance of Tet for Vietnamese Americans?" Bonuses include population maps of each group (no surprise but California's popular), and lists like "13 Asian American Women Who Have Made a Difference" and "Famous Asian American Athletes." Criticisms are that some views are simplistic and there are no pronunciation guides (FYI "cha gio" or Vietnamese springrolls are "chah yaw.") Entertaining, informative, easy to digest. Mam Non

Description: AsianWeek.com Asian Week

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ASIAN-AMERICAN HISTORY

By Lan Cao and Himilce Novas, Plume/Penguin Books; 355 pp.; $12.95.

Don't be deceived by the title's lighthearted tone. Authors Lan Cao and Himilce Novas were dead serious when they arrived at the name for their compilation of Asian American cultural miscellany. They would be well within their rights to tack on the phrase, "but were afraid to ask."

This surprisingly compact paperback is full of the expected historical facts and figures. But, besides being ideal reading for a crash course on Asian America, Everything could easily prove to be a handy reference guide for the prevention of cross-cultural faux pas.

The book is divided into sections focusing on Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Korean, Indian, Southeast Asian, and Asian Pacific Islander Americans, with sidebars such as "13 Asian American Women Who Made A Difference." As a sort of table of contents, all of the questions answered in a particular section (e.g. What is Kung Fu? What was Executive Order 9066? What are Cha Gio?) are listed at the beginning of each section, followed by a brief history of the respective ethnicity's immigration experience along with a U.S. map indicating population densities.

The short answers are informative and the questions, by and large, have been designed to broaden public awareness of peculiar ethnic characteristics and background.  Despite their comprehensive and laudatory efforts, Cao and novas by no means intend this book to be taken as a definitive guide. They thoughtfully provide supplementary fiction and nonfiction reading lists as well as recommended movies, historical sites, and mini-biographies of Asian American notables.

          

Description: rainbow peace sign

 

AMAZON.COM LISTING OF BOOKS BY HIMILCE NOVAS

AND BOOKS WHERE HIMILCE OF HER BOOKS ARE REFERENCED

 

Description: ani rainbowline

Download/Listen to Internet Radio interview with Himilce Novas

 about these topics and much more:

        Description: ani star japDebunking Latino myths and learning about Latino culture and contribution to America

      Description: ani star japSexism in our culture and in the media

Click here and the audio will open automatically

without any need to click further:

Description: Radio_towerSins of Omission

           Description: ANISMALLHEARTSDescription: ANISMALLHEARTSDescription: ANISMALLHEARTS

 

Description: barbedline

Culture-watcher Himilce Novas

 on Selena and the Mexican-American dream

   Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute

00.04.08: Latin Culture Through Art and Literature

... In the great book Everything You Need to Know About Latino History, by Himilce Novas,

 there is a  list of “Nine Latinas who have made a difference”. ...
www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/ units/2000/4/00.04.08.x.html - 50k -

 

        

 

                                                                                                          BUY BOOKS BY HIMILCE NOVAS AT AMAZON.COM

Description: image023

     BUY BOOKS BY HIMILCE NOVAS AT  BARNES & NOBLE.COM

 

        

        

                          Description: Latina!Description: Subscribe!     
February

Description: LoveFeast for enamorados
Begin your Valentine's Day with spicey, sweet seductions en la cocina.
By Himilce Novas and Rosemary Silva
Photographs by Beatriz Da Costa

Forget Viagra. There are other more subtle, natural aphrodisiacs. A romantic meal of gently spiced shrimp, accompanied by a good Rioja under moon glow on the shores of Miami Beach. A fresh mint and rum mojito swigged down at a crowded bar in Manhattan while a heavenly stranger cleaves to your waist. A fig halved then shared by the edge of the San Antonio river. The cool touch of a rich flan or crème caramel spooned on the curled tip of the tongue, anywhere in Los Angeles. And the combined pleasures of feather kisses, romantic boleros, and salt-rimmed margaritas that go down like velvet. It is in the spirit of these familiar aphrodisiacs that we offer you the following recipes. May Aphrodite always rule at your table!

 

 

Description: ANI-CIRCLEREDGOOD Entry about Himilce Novas at All Experts Encyclopedia

 

MANGOS, BANANAS AND COCONUTS: A CUBAN LOVE STORY

By Himilce Novas

Comments by Bob Corbett @ Webster University

Himilce Novas presents a daring and beautiful story which employs the style of magic realism yet embraces values which will startle and trouble many readers. However, this reader was neither startled nor troubled. Rather, I relished her boldness and sympathetic insights. An additional gift was the wrapping of careful, touching and economic language in which the tale was offered.

Read more…

         

 

                Legends: Women Who Have Changed the World

             Through the Eyes of Great Women Writers

      EDITED BY JOHN MILLER


    
New World Library
   
$29.95 hardcover

In this exquisite volume of prose and photography, contemporary women artists and writers celebrate courageous women whose work and lives continue to inspire. Fifty pairings of striking duotone photographs and intimate essays illuminate the accomplishments of women from across the twentieth century: Joan Didion on Georgia O'Keeffe, Elizabeth Hardwick on Billie Holiday, Terry Tempest Williams on Rachel Carson, and others.

 

It's a wonderfully square-shaped book, black with a lovely b&w photo of Audrey Hepburn on the front. The intro is by Anjelica Huston and the list of the women and those who wrote about them follows:

Amelia Earhart - Camille Paglia Billie Holiday - Elizabeth Hardwick Georgia O'Keeffe - Joan Didion Helen Keller - Mary Jo Salter Audrey Hepburn - Diane Johnson Susan Sontag - Larissa MacFarquhar Zora Neale Hurston - Alice Walker Marilyn Monroe - Gloria Steinem Rachel Carson - Terry Tempest Williams Twiggy - Susan Cheever Mother Teresa - Becky Benenate Marth Graham - Alma Guillermoprieto Colette - Yvonne Mitchell Lucille Ball - Linda Martin Josephine Baker - Meg Cohen Lynn Margulis - Elizabeth Royte Frida Kahlo - Guadalupe Rivera Bette Davis - Janet Flanner Anna Pavlova - Allegra kent Jacqueline Onassis - Marilyn Johnson Ella Fitzgerald - Margo Jefferson Gertrude Stein - Cynthia Ozick Elizabeth Taylor - Anne Hollander Golda Meir - Judy Gitenstein Oprah Winfrey - Maya Angelou Virgina Woolf - Claudia Roth Pierpont Harriet Tubman - Darlene Clark Hine Jane Goodall - Virginia Morrell Diana Vreeland - Nancy Franklin Martha Stewart - Patricia McLaughlin Aung San Suu Kyi - Gayle Kirshenbaum Mary McCarthy - Cathleen McGuigan
Joan Baez by Himilce Novas Babe Didrikson Zaharias - Susan E. Cayleff Beryl Markham - Diane Ackerman katharine Graham - Mary Rowland Indira Gandhi - S. Susan Jane Anne Frank - Liv Ullman Marian Anderson - Jessye Norman Imogen Cunningham - Margaretta Mitchell Billie Jean King - Sally Jenkins Margaret Thatcher - Brenda Maddox Greta Garbo - Isabella Rossellini Sister Helen Prejean - Betsy Wagner
Julia Child - Karen Lehrman Margaret Bourke-White - Vicki Goldberg Marian Wright Edelman - Richette L. Haywood Eleanor Roosevelt - Blanche Wiesen Cook Princess Diana - Francine Du Plessix Gray

                                  

 

My article Queer Is Multicultural appears in the June 2006 issue of MultiCultural Review.  Lyn Miller-Lachman, the journal’s editor, officially released the summer issue at a reception for Latino children's book awards at the American Library Association conference on June 26. 

Speaking of MultiCultural Review, I have just agreed to become their Fiction Editor.

 

Following is a copy of my article:

 

Parting Words:  Queer Is Multicultural by Himilce Novas

 

 

In traditional terms, Multicultural Studies can be defined as the interdisciplinary study of diversity, with a primary but not exclusive focus on ethnic minority groups and on the historical/social importance of culture and gender identity in America.

            

However, despite the fact that “gender” features prominently as part of the general definition, it appears that the jury is still out for many schools as to whether Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) issues belong under the rubric of “Multicultural Studies.”

 

This exclusion of a large and important wing of multicultural studies in many of our schools brings to mind a story told me by an old-guard socialist named Mirta who attended one of my lectures at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.

 

In 1950, Mirta had joined forces with famous union organizer Clinton Jencks in a worker strike against Empire Zinc Company in New Mexico, and as a result, she was invited the following year to speak at an International Workers conference in Paris. On her arrival, she noticed activists from all over the globe armed with pamphlets advocating liberté, egalité, fraternité. She noticed a group of African congregants clustered around a table by the service entrance. She suddenly realized that there was not a single African sitting at her table or, in fact, at any other table except for the one by the service entrance. So she asked the obvious of one of the organizers: “Can you tell me why Africans are all sitting together by the service entrance? Is this meeting not about all people having the same rights?”

 

“African people have their own cause to shoulder,” he responded. “Besides, we need to be sensitive to some of our American guests not yet comfortable with integrated seating.”

 

Sound familiar? How often have we heard that Queers have their own issues to shoulder and that GLBT studies do not fit within a definition of “cultural,” and ergo should not be part of Multicultural Studies per se? How often have Queer studies people been asked to sit someplace else by the service door?

 

If we allege that culture means “race” or strict “ethnicity,” then, indeed, GLBT people do not fall under the rubric of Multicultural Studies, as we come in all colors and from all ethnic roots. But if culture is meant to define a group of people who share particular and individual cultural traits, both intrinsically and as a result of persecution by the society at large, then Queer not only belongs under the rubric of “multicultural,” it practically defines it.

 

For one, GLBT people are discriminated against across the board—from employment to government to social institutions—and as such, are grouped together as a cultural minority. According to a recent Wall Street Journal survey, 66 percent of chief executive officers of Fortune 500 companies are reluctant to promote GLBT employees to management-level positions. Except in some branches of the arts, where there is a robust presence of Queers, “Out” GLBT Americans are often relegated to the lowest and least responsible positions. It is well known among all GLBTs that “coming out” (a term coined by Queer culture and now used by mainstream America for everything, even “out” chocolate ice cream lovers) in the workplace can be tantamount to career suicide; to survive means to deny your identity and try to “pass,” even if it means laughing at jokes about Queers in the company cafeteria.

 

To date, only the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has legalized same-sex marriage in the United States. Some states have passed “separate but equal” ordinances that allow GLBTs some measure of legal protection in domestic unions, but not the measure of protection and recognition given to heterosexual unions, thereby creating a “second-class citizenship” for those of us identified as Queer.

 

What’s more, dozens of states have introduced ballots to ban same-sex marriage outright, and the Bush administration has advocated the introduction of a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage. This, incidentally, would be the first time in our history that a constitutional amendment would be passed for the explicit purpose of forbidding someone’s rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Nineteenth Amendment was passed to grant women the vote. The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments gave full citizenship to Blacks, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act reaffirmed that right and made it possible for African Americans to exercise their rights as citizens.

 

Not since the ominous days of slavery, Jim Crow, the Chinese Exclusion Act, and the anti-immigration laws of the 1920s have we seen anything similar. Doesn’t this put GLBT Americans squarely into a “social and cultural” class?

 

And doesn’t Multicultural Studies strive to teach about the history and plight of such discriminated and underrepresented minorities? In fact, GLBT is currently the only group whose equal rights and full recognition under the laws of our country are still considered debatable and up for grabs. At present, some anti-miscegenation laws may still be on the books in a couple of Red states, but there is no African American or Asian American who will be put in jail or be told that his/her marriage to a white person (of the “opposite” sex) is illegal. Yet those same-sex couples who married in San Francisco and in New York State some months ago were told just that. They learned that they could be thrown in jail if they attempted to claim the legality of their marriages, performed at City Hall. And in New York State, charges were filed against the ministers and public officials who conducted these marriages.


Another way we judge cultures and minorities when deciding whether to let them into the Multicultural Studies rubric is the amount of persecution they are liable to encounter from the society at large. While it is true that violence continues to be perpetrated against women, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos, it is also true that far and away the vast majority of victims per capita at the hands of modern-day lynch mobs are Queers.

 

According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Safety and Fitness Exchange, the victimization of gays, lesbians, and transgender people includes harassment, vandalism, robbery, assault, rape, and murder. The location of these crimes is not restricted to dark streets leading from gay establishments. Violence against GLBT people occurs everywhere: in schools, in the workplace, in public places, and in the home. Those who commit these acts come from all social/economic backgrounds and represent different age groups. Anti-gay violence can help in-group members feel positive about their group and consequently about themselves as well. Regardless of the attackers’ motives, victims almost always are chosen for what they are rather than who they are. This is why the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force considers anti-gay hate crimes a form of terrorism. The attack against a single GLBT individual is, in fact, an attack against the GLBT community as a whole. Nationwide, in 2005 there were 2,475 reported cases of anti-gay violence against GLBT people. As high as this number may seem per capita, most GLBT organizations consider these statistics conservative, as the majority of crimes go unreported, and many are mishandled by police or labeled something other than anti-gay.

 

Another aspect scholars look at when deciding which groups to include in Multicultural Studies is the cultural contributions the group makes to language, to science and the arts, and to our social identity as a whole. And here is where all bets are off. Because if, in fact, we look at the enormous contribution that Queers throughout history have made to the arts in particular, as well as to all other disciplines and fields of endeavor, then our contribution tips the scales.

 

Those who would want to exclude GLBT studies from what is defined as multicultural argue that such contributions were made by “people who happened to be gay,” and that theirs was not a gay contribution per se. This argument bears unmasking. Would those same people who claim Cole Porter’s or Gertrude Stein’s contributions not to be gay contributions but “contributions by people who happen to be gay” apply the same litmus test to Louis Armstrong or Ella Fitzgerald? Would they dare say that Armstrong’s or Fitzgerald’s contributions were not made by “Black people” but by “people who happen to be Black”?

 

So to the point of the enormous and defining contributions of Queers to American and world culture, I list just a few Queer notables on the web site indexqueer.htm and leave you to ponder where they belong by paraphrasing Sojourner Truth’s famous question: And ain’t these people Queer? And do their contributions to history and civilization not deserve to be taught in Multicultural Studies courses that honor the very Queer culture that informed their identity and their lives? And one more thing: What would America and the world—and academia—be without them?

 

 

MultiCultural Review is a quarterly trade journal and book review for educators and librarians at all levels. In addition to regular columns, announcements, and news, MultiCultural Review contains five or six feature articles in each issue. These feature articles may be one of the following types: 1) discussions of current issues related to multiculturalism in the United States; 2) bibliographic essays or bibliographies on current issues related to multiculturalism; 3) ethnographic articles on specific groups; 4) bibliographic articles on specific groups, highlighting children's and/or adult books; 5) articles on non-profit resources (audio, video, software, online sources) that present diverse cultures; and 6) practical articles on multicultural pedagogy or librarianship.  http://www.mcreview.com/subscribe.html 

Description: ANI-REDLINE

                   

Page regarding Finnish translation of  Mangos, Bananas and Coconuts: A Cuban Love Story by Himilce Novas

 

Description: http://www.like.fi/../../kirjakeko/kannet/9515785448.jpg

Mangot, banaanit ja kookospähkinät - Kuubalainen rakkaustarina

 

"Queer Is Multicultural" and the Multicultural Review

 

                On Line Multicultural Review:

                  Queer Is Multicultural by Himilce Novas

 

                 Description: 2birds2_e0

 

Description: Click here to find out more!

 

 

 

                                                                                                               

 

 

 

 

Description: ani-arrowback

 

    THE PAGES  OF  THIS WEBSITE

   Description: glass_numbers_1 Description: glass_numbers_2 Description: glass_numbers_3 Description: glass_numbers_4 Description: glass_numbers_5  Description: glass_numbers_6 Description: glass_numbers_7 Description: glass_numbers_8 Description: glass_numbers_9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description: C:\Users\Nov\Desktop\WEB\WEB\arrows_up.gif
Description: C:\Users\Nov\Desktop\WEB\WEB\arrows_dn.gif