Friday, March 28, 2014

Margarita Engle

Margarita Engle is the Cuban-American winner of the first Newbery Honor ever awarded to a Latino. Her award winning young adult novels in verse include The Surrender Tree, The Poet Slave of Cuba, Tropical Secrets, and The Firefly Letters.

Engle’s recent books include The Lightning Dreamer and When You Wander, and her middle grade chapter book, Mountain Dog, was published in August 2013.

Engle's new book is Silver People, Voices From the Panama Canal.

She lives in central California, where she enjoys helping her husband with his volunteer work for wilderness search and rescue dog training programs.

A few days ago I asked the author about what she was reading. Engle's reply:
Frankly, I’m always shocked when I hear people who say they love books begin to brag about only buying books online, at bargain prices. I love books, and I love bookstores, so I make a point of buying new hardback poetry in brick-and-mortar stores. It’s a matter of principle. I want bookstores to survive. I also want bookstores to carry poetry.

My most recent hardback poetry purchases are The Moon Before Morning, by W.S. Merwin, and a bilingual edition of All The Odes, by Pablo Neruda, edited by Ilan Stevens. Both are gorgeous, and I know that I will re-read them many times, year after year, making them highly affordable, if viewed as lifelong treasures.

My prose reading moods vary, but in general, I love books with an international flavor. I just finished Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel, Americanah, which follows the travels of a Nigerian woman who becomes a U.S. citizen, experiences racism, and eventually decides to return to the land of her birth.

Now I’m reading Prayers for the Stolen, by Jennifer Clement, who lives in Mexico. It’s a novel about mothers who have to disguise, or even maim, their pretty daughters, to keep them from being kidnapped by violent druglords. Because this is such a serious subject, I am balancing it with an entertaining historical novel, Juliet, by Anne Fortier. This story is really fun. A modern descendant of Shakespeare’s Juliet discovers secrets about her famous ancestor. I’m enjoying the way Fortier has made the historical era come to life, giving real-world roots to a fictional character.

Finally, I like to include at least one children’s book in my reading mix. I just finished a lovely bilingual picture book, Floating on Mama’s Song/Flotando en la Canción de Mamá, by Laura Lacámara, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, about an opera singer whose voice makes people and animals rise joyfully up into the sky.
Visit Margarita Engle's website.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Margarita Engle & Maggi and Chance.

My Book, The Movie: The Lightning Dreamer.

My Book, The Movie: Mountain Dog.

--Marshal Zeringue