Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Joy Castro

Joy Castro is the award-winning author of Flight Risk, a finalist for a 2022 International Thriller Award; the post-Katrina New Orleans literary thrillers Hell or High Water, which received the Nebraska Book Award, and Nearer Home; the story collection How Winter Began; the memoir The Truth Book; and the essay collection Island of Bones, which received the International Latino Book Award. She is also the editor of the anthology Family Trouble and served as the guest judge of CRAFT’s first Creative Nonfiction Award. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Senses of Cinema, Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, Brevity, and Afro-Hispanic Review; on Salon; and elsewhere. A former writer-in-residence at Vanderbilt University, she is currently the Willa Cather Professor of English and Ethnic Studies at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, where she directs the Institute for Ethnic Studies.

Castro's new novel is One Brilliant Flame.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
I’m currently reading the novel Forbidden Notebook by Cuban Italian writer Alba de Céspedes, first published in Italy in 1952 and newly translated by Ann Goldstein (revered for her translations of Elena Ferrante’s work).

Forbidden Notebook is the story of a middle-aged petit bourgeois working housewife, Valeria Cossati, who secretly acquires a notebook. When she starts privately jotting down her honest observations, the livable fictions she’s constructed about her work, family, and social world all begin to crumble, and she has to decide what actions to take about what she newly perceives. Though published 70 years ago, Forbidden Notebook's insights about domestic, professional, and political tensions remain disturbingly and keenly relevant.

Author Alba de Céspedes was a feminist journalist, novelist, and screenwriter who was imprisoned for her antifascist work in Rome before and during World War II. She was also the granddaughter of 19th-century Cuban anticolonial independence hero Carlos Manuel de Céspedes. I'm intrigued by the way she merges political with personal concerns to create a breath-catching story.
Visit Joy Castro’s website and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Hell or High Water.

The Page 69 Test: Nearer Home.

Q&A with Joy Castro.

My Book, The Movie: Flight Risk.

The Page 69 Test: Flight Risk.

--Marshal Zeringue