1) James Cañon, Author of Tales from the Town of Widows: A Novel. When we nominated him for our One Brown Book, One Nation program earlier this year, we knew that this author was something special. In fact, if I had to choose one must-read Latino author this year, Cañon would be it. This book has already won significant awards including France’s prestigious Best First Foreign Novel Prize. I really believe that it will be a short time before Cañon becomes one of the most widely read authors in the U.S.
2) Fred Arroyo, Author of The Region of Lost Names. I have to say that I rarely have so many colleagues recommend the same book. In this case, they knew talent when they eyed it. This is a riveting book with characters of all ages who nevertheless sound so familiar, it’s as if the reader has grown up with them.
3) Cecilia Samartin, Author of Broken Paradise: A Novel and Tarnished Beauty. Broken Paradise has already won a 2007 International Latino Book Award (Mariposa Award for First Book), while Tarnished Beauty has been given a coveted red star by the Kirkus Review.
4) Matt De La Pena, Author of Mexican WhiteBoy and Ball Don’t Lie. Ball Don’t Lie was named an ALA Best book for Young Adults, while his latest book, Mexican WhiteBoy has garnered great reviews. This is another example of how Latinos are making a name for themselves in various genres.
5) Joy Castro, Author of The Truth Book: A Memoir. Castro’s first book is a combination of great writing and honesty that cuts deep. Her book has been adopted in courses on “autobiography, women’s literature, creative nonfiction, and women and psychology,” but even that list is limited as the book gets into matters that relate to childhood development, parenting, religion, and sociology.
6) David Hernandez, Author of Suckerpunch. First a poet, now a first-time novelist, Hernandez’ debut is a story for young adults that packs a punch and keeps you wanting more. HarperCollins has already signed him to a second book–and with reason.
7) Claudia Galindo, author of Do You Know the Cucuy? /conoces al cucuy?, and It’s Bedtime Cucuy, A La Cama Cucuy. Galindo’s children’s book is a sweet story with illustrations that all children will love.
8) Stephanie Elizondo Griest, Author of Mexican Enough: My Life Between The Borderlines. Okay, so this is actually her third book. But can you blame us for putting her on the list, given that her second book was published in 2007 and the third one in 2008? Besides, with that much talent, she gave us no choice.
9) Ivan Sanchez, Author of Next Stop: Growing Up Wild-Style in the Bronx. Sanchez is a throwback to New York Puerto Rican writers who write from the heart about growing up in urban neighborhoods with colorful characters and deadly streets.
10) Caridad Ferrer Author of It’s Not About the Accent. Ferrer followed up with this book after the success of Adios to My Old Life. The imprint, MTV Books, thought highly enough of her writing to publish her work, and I’m sure they’re not disappointed.
Editor’s post-publication note. This is truly an all-star cast. Who would have thought that when this list was composed, Cañon’s novel would be made into a film, and so many of these other writers would become so prolific? This is a truly impressive list.