The University of Wisconsin Press

Memoir / Latino/a Studies / Language & Linguistics / Gay & Lesbian Interest

Scenes from la Cuenca de Los Angeles y otros Natural Disasters
Susana Chávez-Silverman
Foreword by Paul Saint-Amour; afterword by Michael Shelton

Writing in Latinidad: Autobiographical Voices of U.S. Latinos/as

“Chávez-Silverman is doing nothing less than creating a new genre . . . through the only language capable of apprehending it: Spanglish as the new language of national becoming.”
Lázaro Lima, Bryn Mawr College

•Honorable Mention, Best Biography in Spanish or Bilingual, International Latino Book Awards

This is a rarity in contemporary writing, a truly bilingual enterprise, as in Susana Chávez-Silverman’s previous memoir, Killer Crónicas. Chávez-Silverman switches between English and Spanish, creating a linguistic mestizaje that is still a surprise encounter in the world of letters today, and the author is one of a small but growing band of writers to embrace bilingualism as a literary force. Also like Killer Crónicas, each chapter in Scenes from la Cuenca de Los Angeles is a “crónica,” a vignette that began as intimate diary entries and e-mails and letters to lovers, friends, and ghosts from the past. These episodic chapters follow Chávez-Silverman’s personal history, from California to South Africa and Australia and back, from unfathomable loss to deeply felt joy. Readers drawn into this witty book will confront their own conceptions of boundaries, borders, languages, memories, and spaces.

Por su white, insouciant, papery look, por su semejanza a la amapola (scentless, a fin de cuentas, no obstante esa famosa escena de la Wicked Witch of the West, purring evilly, “Poppies, poppies will put them to sleep. Sleeeep, sleep . . .”), when I leaned in to sniff, I hadn’t been expecting any scent at all. Y por eso, el cool, familiar mounds of damp masa harina, Mercado Libertad en verano scent, es—por lo utterly inesperado—lo más disturbingly, comfortingly, hechizante que tienen las paper flowers. Stay with me a while. Busquemos, together, más strange familiars. —excerpt from chapter 1, “Diary Inside/Color Local Crónica”
© The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System. All rights reserved.

Susana Chavez-SilvermanSusana Chávez-Silverman is professor of romance languages and literatures at Pomona College in California. She is author of Killer Crónicas—the first paperback edition to be published December 2010—and coeditor of Tropicalizations: Transcultural Representations of Latinidad and Reading and Writing the Ambiente: Queer Sexualities in Latino, Latin American, and Spanish Culture.

Audio files of Susana Chávez-Silverman reading from Scenes from la Cuenca de Los Angeles y otros Natural Disasters are available at audio readings

Writing in Latinidad: Autobiographical Voices of U.S. Latinos/as
Susana Chávez-Silverman, Paul Allatson,
Silvia D. Spitta, and Rafael Campo, Series Editors

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There is also a press kit with more information, and print and web-ready images to be used in publicity for this title.

The cover of this book is a vital green, with a photo of an iron gate.

April 2010

LC: 2009040632 E
176 pp.    6 x 9

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Paper $18.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-23524-6
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