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Las Mamis: Favorite Latino Authors Remember Their Mothers [Hardcover]

Esmeralda Santiago , Joie Davidow
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 4 2000
In a marvelous new anthology from the editors of Las Christmas, some of our most admired Latino authors share memories of their mothers. Las Mamis brings to life fourteen remarkable women in sometimes poignant, sometimes hilarious stories about the ups and downs of families from Kansas to Colombia and Boston to Mexico City.

Junot Díaz remembers how his Dominican mother quietly helped him find his way back when his life hit a dead end. Alba Ambert mourns the Puerto Rican mother she lost as an infant. Francisco Goldman writes a paean to his Guatemalan Mamita's beauty and determination. Gioconda Belli discovers that her glamorous, all-powerful Nicaraguan mother is only a woman, after all.

The women lovingly portrayed in Las Mamis represent a cross section of Latino life and culture. They come from rich families in the big cities of Latin America, from rural immigrant families in the United States, and from the worlds in between. But they all share extraordinary strength and courage. Often pressed by conflicting cultural expectations, circumstances, and religions, they have nevertheless managed to leave enduring legacies for their children.

Now, in these vivid, touching, often humorous reminiscences -- infused with a distinctive sabor latino -- Las Mamis celebrates the special bond between mothers and their children.

Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

For this collection of well-wrought literary snapshots, Santiago (When I Was Puerto Rican) and Davidow (founding editor of S! magazine) have gathered reminiscences from 14 accomplished Latino authors, including Mandalit del Barco, Il n Stavans and Francisco Goldman. Since the present generation of Latino writers had mothers who were almost always working women, many contemporary Latino authors have claimed that their cultural education came from their grandmothers. Thus this anthology also affords an intriguing glimpse of an often overlooked generation of Latinas. Dominican Junot D!az describes his family as "Section Eight, los c#pones, AFDC all the way," with his single "moms" keeping them alive. D!az was a rebel and well on the way to total dissolution, when he discovered "she was a person and not just somebody who washed my underwear and cooked my meals. She had a world inside of her." At the other end of the economic spectrum, Mar!a Ampara Escand?n describes her mother's shopping obsession, which took the family from Mexico City to Houston twice a year. Marjorie Agos!n writes poetically of a Chilean mother who told her children, "I have lived among the dead and among memories that tell only of the dead," while Chicano novelist Dagoberto Gilb describes how he informed his mother of his transformation from construction worker to award-winning novelist only when she was on her deathbed. From rich mamis to poor ones, loving to relentless, this collection of essays eloquently captures the diversity of Latino culture while paying tribute to its most enduring characteristic: amor a madre. Includes photos of each contributor's mother. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Family always harbors the most passionate and intimate feelings, and good writers express better than most those details of family life. These 14 essays by major Latin American authors such as Marjorie Agos!n tell of humble beginnings, fighting cancer, hiding one's work in order to hide one's homosexuality, and the experience of leaving home for the United States. Mexican thinker Jos Vasconcelos foresaw that Latin America would be the first place in the world to have an ethnic global culture. His vision is borne out by this collection of works by Puerto Rican, Peruvian, Chilean, Cuban, Mexican, and other writers. The book becomes a bridge between the shores, so far well delineated, of Latin world authors and hyphenated-American writers. The editors, Santiago (When I Was Puerto Rican) and Davidow (founder of the Latino magazine S!), correctly disregard origins and pseudo-measurements of latinismo and, as a result, offer a triumph of community and a valuable manifestation of what it is to be Hispanic. We see how definitions of identity are best off in the hands of artists. For this reason and for the very powerful prose, this work belongs in every library.
-Rene Perez-Lopez, Norfolk P.L., VA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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I was her first child, born feetfirst, the umbilical cord snug around my neck. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional, poetic and moving Sept. 27 2000
One has to bear in mind that writing about people one knows is very subjective, and this is the author's right. People simply are not objective about those close to them. The writers of this book have accomplished a creation that has resulted in a beautiful specimen of literature, rich in description and sentiment, both amusing and tragic.
How can one not laugh when Jaime Manrique quotes the only comment his mother makes after she sees her son's pictures in a magazine spread for the first time: " You look fat, You'd better lay off those pies" and how can one not cry when he writes "The most wonderful tribute I can pay to my mother is to say that whereas most children automatically love their mothers, I've grown to love Soledad." But these quotes don't mean much without reading all that precedes them.
And then, who will ever forget, once read, Alba Ambert's haunting search for a mother she has never known and how she consciously forms a life for herself based on this lack of knowledge?
If you are looking for straight storytelling, you will find it here, but you will also find great sentiment and poetry within these pages. That in itself is worth the read. One no longer cares as one reads along if it is true or not; it still touches the soul.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Unimpressed Sept. 9 2000
By A Customer
When I first saw this book in the bookstore, I could not believe that someone finally put together a book about Latin mothers. As a person with a Mexican mother, I was hopeful that my unique experiences would finally be told. I was wrong. The writing in this book is dishonest and pretentious. I kept getting the feeling that the writers were trying to impress the readers with their clever writing and big words. It certainly did not help that the editors chose to exhaustively list all of the awards and accolades ever bestowed upon the writers. What does this have to do with writing about your mother? Even though some of the stories were potentially touching, I did not shed one tear because I simply could not get over the "look at me" writing. If someone wants to read a beautifully written book about a mother that made me cry and think about my own mother, please read Growing Up by Russell Baker. Russell Baker's mother did not have to be Mexican for me to be touched by her son's honesty and the beauty of his writing.
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Esmeralda Santiago edits Las Mamis, a powerful gathering of Latino authors who recall their mothers. The fourteen women portray a cross-section of Latino culture and economic backgrounds in this loving memoir of influential parents.
Diane C. Donovan Reviewer
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