Tag Archive: J.L. Torres

The Nuyorican Hallway: Belonging & Living Between Worlds

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Such an engaging conversation with host Julian Esteban Torres Lopez. This is one of the best conversations I’ve had with a podcast host that discusses Puerto Rico’s present condition. Our conversation centered on the idea of living in the “Nuyorican Hallway” and belonging and living in between worlds. But it also goes beyond those topics to embrace significantly related issues. Listen in. I’m sure you’ll find it fascinating and informative.

To learn more about The Nasiona, their staff, and their mission, check out this link:

The Best Books by Writers of the Puerto Rican Diaspora

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Ben Fox invited me to write a “listicle” for his website Shepherd.com. A listicle is an article that includes some type of list; in the case of mine, it’s a list of what I considered the five best books written by Puerto Rican authors in the diaspora. I had quite a difficult time narrowing the many possibilities to five books. As I wrote this piece, I kept thinking how these books had helped my development as a writer. I also thought how Migrations, my latest short story collection, is indebted to the continual development of diasporican writing, in general.

If you’re interested in the literature of the Puerto Rican Diaspora, please check it out. I’m sure that others would have different books on this list. Apologies if I annoyed anyone by leaving a loved book from the list. In any case, let me know what you think. What books would you have included? Have you read any or all of these books? Do you agree with my assessment of these books and authors? I seriously want to hear from you. If anything, this type of exercise generates discussion about criteria applied to a literary canon. It forces us to think if the exercise in itself is valuable and necessary. When it comes to the literature of Puerto Ricans residing in the United States, we could certainly use more critical discussion.

Here is the link to my listicle:

https://shepherd.com/best-books/by-writers-of-the-puerto-rican-diaspora

What is Shepherd for Authors?

Whether you are a writer or an avid reader, Shepherd has something for you. Here’s what Ben Fox has to say about his website:

I love wandering around bookstores letting random books capture my attention. Nothing will ever replace the “bookstore experience”, but I want to reimagine book discovery online with a lot more serendipity. Thus Shepherd.com was born.

Shepherd launched on April 19th, 2021, and in addition to helping readers, we are also helping authors. There is a growing trend that authors have to become their own marketing team. That concerns me because it takes time away from writing and it is very hard to do. I want to make it easier for authors to get their books in front of the readers who would be most interested in their book.

Research and Writing on the Puerto Rican Diaspora

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Luica Matuonto asked me to submit an article for her blog on writing related to my new book, Migrations. So, I decided to write on researching the Puerto Rican diaspora for the collection. I consider where that quest for information led me. You can read it here: https://www.luciamatuonto.com/post/growing-up-latino.

Toni Morrison on Inspiration for Writers

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“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” — Toni Morrison

It’s almost two years since we lost the inimitable Toni Morrison. How I miss her wisdom, insight, and eloquence. This quote from her is one of my favorites, because it’s so fundamentally true. Yet, as a writer, you never think absence of what you want to read should be a primary source of inspiration.

Of course, you should write what you crave to read. That ache in your hunger for a specific story is probably felt by others like you. I’ve taken this quote as a mantra for my projects. I wondered why no one had written about a nuyorican returning to the island. So, I did it. Now, I’m working on a novella that tackles the insidious type of racism we find in Puerto Rico and other Latinx communities. I’ve always wondered why Puerto Ricans and Latinx people generally do not want to confront the real issues of our type of racism, which is indeed quite different, although no less virulent, than the one in the United States. I always wanted to read a novel that would touch on those issues, but it didn’t exist. So, I went to work on it, and the main character is Roberto Clemente. Hopefully, by the end of 2022, I’ll have a manuscript ready to send out.

Gender, Race & Identity in the Diaspora:

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A conversation between J.L. Torres and Lawrence La Fountain.

If you missed the virtual event, watch the video with me and Dr. Lawrence La Fountain as we talk about how our current books–one a collection of stories (Migrations) and the other a scholarly book (Translocas: The Politics of Puerto Rican Drag and Trans Performance)–share affinities on various issues related to gender, race, identity as experienced by Puerto Ricans in the diaspora. Watch the video here:

Talking about the Puerto Rican Diaspora & Writing with Writers Drinking Coffee

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I had an enjoyable conversation with John Schmidt, Chaz Brenchley and Karen Brenchley in which we discussed what it’s like to write from the perspective of a diasporican and how it relates to Migrations. Listen here: https://www.writersdrinkingcoffee.com/posts/podcast/episode-103-diasporica-with-professor-j-l-torres/

About WDC and the hosts:

Hello everyone, and welcome to Writers Drinking Coffee. This is a podcast based on writers sitting around, drinking coffee and/or occasionally wine, and talking about anything and everything.

Bean Scene Café – https://www.beanscenecafe.com/
Chaz Brenchley – http://www.chazbrenchley.co.uk/ or @chazbrenchley
Jeannie Warner – Amazon.com/Jeannie-Warner @thetsmorgan
John Schmidt – @JohnRSchmidt
Michael Engberg – music intro and exit – www.manyhatsmusic.com

For information on the hosts of Writers Drinking Coffee check: https://www.writersdrinkingcoffee.com/contributors-writers-creative/

Truman Capote on Promoting Your Book

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Truman Capote

” A boy has to peddle his book.”

One week after the publication date of Migrations and my mind has been on book promotion and marketing. The quote above is what Capote supposedly told John Knowles months before the release of his novel, A Separate Peace. Capote meant that you have to be more proactive in marketing your book. Easier said then done, of course.

I don’t know about other writers, but for me it’s uncomfortable to go out there and “peddle” my book, and by extension, myself. But I also understand it is a necessary evil because as it has been often said, “no one will buy your book if no one knows it exists.” Knowles took Capote’s advice and actively promoted the novel, which went on to sell 9 million copies. Book marketing has changed since 1959, when A Separate Peace debuted. Today we have social media, fewer publishers and bookstores, and readership is declining. All of this makes marketing more challenging, but Capote’s advice still holds true, perhaps more so, in a time when algorithms determine your book’s category and what constitutes a “best-seller” is cloudy.

Video: Rip & Reck into That Good Light

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Thanks to Julian Torres-Vera (Odim Lu) for editing and producing this video featuring my story in three voices, “Rip & Reck into That Good Light,” which is part of my award-winning short story collection, Migrations. LARB Libros will release Migrations in Spring, 2021. Thanks to Melinda de Jesus and Julian for their wonderful performances.

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