Monday, June 2, 2014

A Talk About: Things We Do Not Talk About By: Daniel Olivas

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Cover artwork by: Perry Vasquez
     Be one of the first to devour this intriguing compilation of personal essays and interviews composed into the symphony that award-winning author, Daniel A. Olivas, refers to as the Things We Do Not Talk About (2014). Born in Los Angeles, CA Olivas has dedicated his life to seeking truth in books. He received his BA in English literature from Stanford University, and furthered the course of his education to earn a law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). 

          Being a grandson to Mexican immigrants, much of Olivas' life was intertwined with the thread of Chicano/a culture. The eclectic writings Olivas has authored range anywhere from fiction, to poetry, novellas, short stories, you name it! In his most recent book, Olivas stands to serve as a contemporary representation of the voice that ties together the authors of Latino/a literature. He investigates decades of interviews, and attempts to decipher the many obstacles these authors came face-to-face with meanwhile writing. 
          Click here to purchase your very own paperback copy of the book today! 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Story of A Girl: Luster of Jade: Poetry, Painting And Music by: Catherine Yi-yu Cho Woo

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"Split pea soup
                       One small can
                                            My love shared with me
 So rapidly
               We drank
                                       Holding hands
                                                             From a
 Before it leaked away............."

         As Dr. Catherine Yi-yu Cho Woo shared this split pea soup with her lover, I would like to share some of her soul-searching works with you. Dr. Woo was born in Beijing, China to a family of scholars. For much of her youth she spent moving around China until her family finally settled in Hong Kong in 1949.
figure 1: Ch'i (Life Force)
          Dr. Woo later traveled abroad to America in order to obtain a degree in Architecture at the University of Illinois. After she met her husband, Peter Woo, at the University of Illinois they decided to move to San Diego, California (at the time, not knowing that this would be the beginning of a very spontaneous life-long journey). This is where she began studying art and literature at San Diego State University, and afterwards UCLA for her masters degree. Finally, she ended up at the University of San Francisco for her doctorate.
          After having received multiple teaching awards in the early 1990's, Dr. Woo's lecture, Luster of Jade: Poetry,Painting And Music, was published in 1992. Throughout this published lecture in book form, she is able to capture herself within the various artistic outlets presented in the composition.  In just 45 pages, Dr. Woo reaches out to various audiences ranging from scholarly to mainstream. She poises her works with a certain je ne sais quoi that leaves her audience in awe and wonder of what lies between the caves and crevices of Chinese art, poetry, and music.            

figure 2: "Tian Tian Tian Lan"
According to a reviewer, "to stand in front of Dr. Woo's work is to experience the stirrings of the heart, mind, and soul of nature, as if the paintings are alive.” This goes for not only her artwork, but her poetry, and musical compositions as well. Figure 2, on the left,  s musical collaboration between Professor Lin Yun, Professor Leo Chen, and Dr. Woo. This song became an instant hit in Taiwan and is featured (along with its translation) within the book as well. It serves as one of the many ways Dr. Woo is able to take our breath away! So what are you waiting for? Find yourself in the very contemporary works of Dr. Woo with just a click of a button!    


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Things We Do Not Talk About: Exploring Latino/a Literature through Essays and Interviews

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Daniel Olivas, a grandson to Mexican immigrants, grew up in Los Angeles. Eventually, he went on to receive a degree in English literature at Stanford University and later, a law degree from UCLA. Now, Daniel works as an attorney with the California Department of Justice in the Public Rights Division. He writes in his free time and, in fact, has published seven books and has contributed to many publications.  In his newest venture, Daniel has put together past interviews and personal essays that put forward questions about Chicano identity and explores a writer's writing process and its relationship with the writer's life. A supplement to Latino/a literature, Things We Do Not Talk About, sets out to continue this conversation with other readers and writers whose writing is as interconnected to their lives as Daniel's is. Things We Do Not Talk About will be available May 5th, 2014! The following is a short interview with Daniel Olivas:

Interviewer: Why did you decide to title the book, “Things We Do Not Talk About”? What are some of these things you felt needed to be talked about while going through academia?

Daniel Olivas: The original manuscript that I submitted to SDSU Press not only included essays and interviews but also several short stories including one with that title. Because I liked the title of that short story so much, I decided to make it the title of the book. When I met with Harry Polkinhorn and William Nericcio to discuss my project, they said they liked the manuscript but that the press did not publish fiction. So, I removed the short stories but kept the title because it spoke to an issue—in an ironic manner—that I see with the coverage of Latino/a literature: the mainstream press doesn’t give it enough even as academia has moved towards recognizing such literature in ways that I didn’t see back in college back in the late 1970s. Since several of the interviews have already been relied upon in academic circles (i.e., scholarly books on Latino/a literature, Ph.D. dissertations, etc.), I thought that bringing them together in one volume along with my essays might be useful.

I want to note that the stunning cover art is by Perry Vasquez, a San Diego artist and educator who was a classmate of mine at Stanford and who worked with me when I was the art director of the Chaparral, Stanford’s humor magazine. I think his art conveys the broad spectrum of topics covered by my essays and author interviews.

Interviewer How was the process in the making of this book different from previous books you’ve published? What sparked the idea of it?

Daniel Olivas: My previous six books were works of fiction so this was a departure for me—I never thought that I’d publish a non-fiction book. Yes, it’s true that I’ve been writing essays and interviewing authors for many years, but I never thought that I’d have so much material for a whole book. And when I learned that my coverage of Latino/a writers was being relied upon by professors and students alike, the idea for this project began to evolve.

Interviewer:   In the introduction, you mention a reoccurring question in the background of your essays: what does it mean to be a Chicano writer? Is this a question you continue to ask yourself?

Daniel Olivas: In a sense, yes. I am always delighted when Chicano and Chicana students attend my readings and then come up afterwards to discuss fiction. There is this beautiful connection based on some common cultural touchstones. And I am always thrilled when they say that they are inspired to become writers themselves. Yet, in the back of my mind as I’m having these interactions, I wonder if I have any responsibilities as a Chicano writer. In the end, I think that my primary responsibility is to be honest to my art and the representation of all people in my fiction, essays and poetry. I also have a responsibility to be a mentor to those who wish to express themselves through literature and to promote worthwhile books especially those written by Latino/a writers.

Interviewer:   Looking back through all the interviews you included in this book, what is a reoccurring message or experience that seems to connect all these writers that have been successful in publishing Latino/a literature? Is there anything in an interview that stands out the most and has helped your writing journey?

Daniel Olivas: None of the writers I interviewed ever gave up the dream of publishing even when faced with a society and publishing industry that is not always very understanding or hospitable to Latino/a literature. That kind of bravery is so incredibly inspiring to me. I would be hard pressed to choose one interview that stands out because, as readers of this book will learn, each of the 28 writers offers some kind of important insight on writing and culture. I think taken together, we can only be heartened by the eloquence and energy these writers.

For more information on the author, visit his website at:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

THE POWER OF ONE... Enrique Morones' title wins award

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We congratulate Enrique Morones for winning Honorable Mention in the Category of best Non-Fiction written by multiple authors in the International Latino Book Awards.

For fifteen years the International Latino Book Awards have celebrated greatness, partnering up this year with Las Comadres para las Americas and Instituto Cervantes. The Premium Sponsor included Libros Publishing and Gold Sponsor Scholastic. Bronze sponsorship came from Atria/Simon Schuster and Vaso Roto Ediciones. Additional support came from University of Arizona and Arte Publico Press.

International Latino Book Awards, now one of the largest award ceremonies for Latino authors, has awarded Enrique Morones The Power of One: The Story of the Border Angels out of the 190 authors meticulously picked from a board of sixty notables. Morones' The Power of One walks away garnished with International Latino Book Awards' newly released Award Winning Author logo.

Morones took to the American Southwest joining and impacting grassroot immigration reform with Undocumented Workers. His memoir, with noted Chicano Historian Richard Griswold de Catillo, unveils the struggles along "la frontera," the border, and proves the possibility toward change and reform.

Congratulations Enrique Morones for The Power of One!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


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Dr. Alvaro Huerta authored the newest title to our SDSU Press collection, Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Toward a Humanistic Paradigm. Dr. Huerta holds a B.A. (history) and M.A. (urban planning) from UCLA. Also, he holds a Ph.D. (city and regional planning) from UC Berkeley. He is currently conducting interdisciplinary work in the UCLA Chicano Chicana Studies program for top scholarly journals through the studies of urban planning / community development, civic engagement / community organizing, immigration, Chicana/o--Latina/o studies / history, social network analysis & the informal economy. This interview took place over email on the anniversary of the "Chicano Moratorium," August 29, and preceded an upcoming phone interview. 
When did you start writing? Why?
Dr. Alvaro Huerta
I first started writing this book while completing my dissertation at UC Berkeley’s City and Regional Planning program. It was actually not my intention to write or conduct research on the politics of immigration while at Berkeley. I was more interested, at the time, on the history of cities in the U.S. and the people who occupy them, particularly Chicana/os and other Latina/o groups. I was and continue to be interested in scholarly issues, such as labor, social movements and the informal environment.
However, while immersed in completing my dissertation I felt morally compelled to say something about the rise of xenophobia in the last several years with the draconian immigration laws in Arizona and other states. As a son of Mexican immigrants and public intellectual, I couldn’t bury my head in the sand any longer while elected officials, primarily Republicans and other conservatives, perpetuated lies and contradictions against the mostly honest, hardworking Latina/o immigrants in this country. Instead of blaming Wall Street and deregulations of the banks during the height of the Great Recession, many local, state and national elected officials blamed low-wage Latinas/os for America’s social and economic woes.
To complicate matters, Latina/o leaders and elected officials mostly stayed quite during this time period (and to the present). Given that my job is to be a critical thinker and to question the status quo, I started to write social commentaries based on my scholarly research and family history to reframe the Latina/o immigration debate from a negative story to a positive narrative. My aim remains to provide my expertise commentary based on empirical research, rejecting the pejorative and popular views against Latina/o immigrants that only benefit elected officials and their desire to find convenient scapegoats during America’s uneasy economic and political climate. Also, in order to appeal to the white, working class vote and their economic anxieties, Republican leaders and other conservatives conveniently blame low-wage immigrants for the bleak plight of the former.
Why should we write from experience, especially when students are told not too?
Dr. Alvaro Huerta
As someone who has taught at UCLA and UC Berkeley, I always tell my students to base their arguments on facts and not personal opinions. While I never judge my students for the political views, I challenge all of them to support their claims with solid evidence. It’s not enough to say that “immigrants represent social burdens,” for example, you can give evidence to back up that statement. Although my first question towards that claim would be do immigrants receive government aid (welfare), social security, Medicare, etc., especially since these programs represent major federal expenditures? If not, what would be the the basis of that claim?
That said, as part of my efforts to humanize the Latina/o immigration debate, I started to write about my own history, as a son of Mexican immigrants. My late mother, for example, worked as a domestic worker for over forty years. Meanwhile, my late father worked as a farmworker during the Bracero Program and later a factory worker for an auto rim factory where he toiled as a janitor for the minimum wage ($3.25 at the time) for over a decade. By telling their stories, I want to give concrete examples of Latina/o immigrants working hard and making sacrifices in this country with little financial compensation. They do so not for themselves, mainly, but for children and families back home via remittances. They do not represent social burdens; they are mostly honest, hardworking individuals who only want to improve their status and that of their family members. It is for them that I write. It is for them that I spent countless hours in the library. It is, in short, for los de abajo /those on the bottom that motivated me to write my first book.
"Chicanos say that if you have to ask you'll never understand much less become, a Chicano...the word Chicano is as difficult to define as 'soul.'" 
In the spirit of Ruben Salazar, what does Chicano mean to you?

Dr. Alvaro Huerta

I embrace the words Chicana and Chicano. I first heard of the term “Chicano” in high school and it made sense to me at the time. I did not fully understand it, even after reading many of Ruben Salazar’s articles. It was not until I entered UCLA as a freshman that I better understood the term and the importance of any ethnic group to self-identify how they desire. I love the phrase “black is beautiful,” for example, and find the word “Chicano” to have similar connotations, mainly that “brown is also beautiful.”

I honestly find it tiring to be the only brown person or Chicano in the room. Sometimes I wished that I did not have to deal with race or the burden that those of us who entered privileged universities, like UCLA and UC Berkeley, must carry on a daily basis. I would actually prefer to be treated with other labels or characteristics, such as a caring or compassionate person, but I know that when I go to the library at UC Berkeley or walk into a Starbucks in the suburbs, I am a “Mexican.” Thus, even for those that reject the labels “Mexican” or “Chicana/o,” at the end of the day, mainstream society will always remind them, or us, that we represent “the Other.” That being the case, I embrace being different; I embrace my brown color; and, most importantly, as a social scientist, I am embrace the ethical responsibility of producing research that serves the public good.

Click to buy Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate

If you want to learn more about Dr. Alvaro Huerta and his work visit his site:

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Discover the Past with Dead Sea Scrolls by Risa Levitt Kohn with SDSU Press

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"The Dead Sea Scrolls have revolutionized the study of the Bible, early Judaism, and early Christianity." -
-Michael Wise 1996.
In this sleek paperback by Risa Levitt Kohn, one will uncover the many mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls -- great historical texts that were created over 2,000 years ago.  The content of these scrolls is mind blowing; they have the earliest known manuscripts of works that were included in the Hebrew Bible.  They have changed what many people thought they knew about Judaism and Christianity.

San Diego State University along with the San Diego Natural History Museum has brought to print all the extraordinary findings in the Dead Sea Scrolls together in this book.  It contains beautifully vivid pictures of the scrolls and in depth explanations of what they mean.  Through them, you are able to look into the language and beliefs of people from thousands of years ago!  If you're up for a blast from the past this is the book for you! Both informational and exciting, the Dead Sea Scrolls is the book for any mood.

Buy it here

Learn more about the dead sea scrolls:

150 Years of Evolution: Darwin's Impact on Contemporary Thought Culture

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click to enlarge
Do you ever wonder how the world came to be and why things are the way they are? There are millions of people and events that have made the present what it is and have changed the way people think about things.  There was one man, however, that made a greater impact than most events or people and his name was Charles Darwin.  If you want to find out about what this innovative researcher  did to impact the present world, how he did it, and what he discovered, this book is perfect for you!

This wide-ranging anthology delves into Darwin's revolutionary discoveries in evolution.  Created in commemoration of Charles Darwin's 200th birthday, 150 Years of Evolution: Darwin's Impact on Contemporary Thought & Culture is a combination of crucial studies on Darwin's theories and essays from scholars discussing them.  If you are interested in Darwin's theories and in discussions of life this is the book for you!

Buy it here

Looking for more on Darwin? Check out this fun, interactive site!