About Things We Do Not Talk About:
In this candid and wide-ranging collection of personal essays and interviews, award-winning author Daniel A. Olivas explores Latino/a literature at the dawn of the 21st century.
While his essays address a broad spectrum of topics from the Mexican-American experience to the Holocaust, Olivas always returns to and wrestles with queries that have no easy answers: How does his identity as a Chicano reflect itself through his writing? What issues and subjects are worth exploring? How do readers react to the final results? Can literature affect political discourse and our daily lives?
Olivas has explored similar questions through almost a decade’s worth of interviews with Latino/a authors that have appeared in various online literary publications. While professors and students alike have already relied upon many of the interviews as source material for scholarly examination, twenty-eight of these incisive and frank dialogues are now collected in one volume for the first time. Olivas dives deep to discover how these authors create prose and poetry while juggling families, facing bigotry, struggling with writer’s block, and deciphering a fickle publishing industry. This roster of interview subjects is a who’s who of contemporary Latino/a literature:
Aaron A. Abeyta • Daniel Alarcón • Francisco Aragón
Gustavo Arellano • Gregg Barrios • Richard Blanco • Margo Candela Susana Chávez-Silverman • Sandra Cisneros • Carlos E. Cortés Carmen Giménez Smith • Ray González • Rigoberto González
Octavio González • Reyna Grande • Myriam Gurba • Rubén Martínez Michael Luis Medrano • Aaron Michael Morales • Manuel Muñoz
Salvador Plascencia • Sam Quinones • Ilan Stavans • Héctor Tobar
Justin Torres • Sergio Troncoso • Luis Alberto Urrea
Helena María Viramontes
Things We Do Not Talk About will undoubtedly become a natural companion to the study and enjoyment of contemporary Latino/a literature.
Things We Do Not Talk About is a nonfiction finalist
in the 2015 International Latino Book Awards
Praise for Things We Do Not Talk About:
"Olivas’s penetrating meditations on all facets of the life of Latino fiction writing, including his own as a Latino lawyer eking out a living in the global conundrum of LA—dazzle! His cornucopia of incisive interviews with many of our great contemporary Latino/a poets, novelists, short story, and non-fiction authors—astound! Wide ranging and yet laser focused, Olivas gives us the total portrait of Latino/a letters today."
—Frederick Luis Aldama, Arts & Humanities Distinguished Professor of English at The Ohio State University and author of The Routledge Concise History of Latino/a Literature
"With passion and earnestness Daniel Olivas reveals that the preoccupations of the contemporary Chicana/o writer are vast and complex. Most Chicanas/os and Latinas/os would attest to this, of course, but how often do we see this range in published form? Through personal essays and probing interviews, Olivas tackles not only the craft of writing but also its moral implications. We are lucky to have such a generous author in our midst."
—Maceo Montoya, author of The Deportation of Wopper Barraza
"Many of the subjects that Olivas addresses in this book are important to current conversations about Latino literature, especially among students and writers. And not just Latinos — conversations about using multiple languages and Latino literary traditions like magical realism require more sophistication. Olivas’s Things We Do Not Talk About can be a useful tool to incite any reader into deeper thought not only about these subjects, but also about questions of authority and responsibility. These can be complicated topics, but Olivas leaves plenty of room for your own nuanced answers."
“Daniel Olivas’ book, Things We Do Not Talk About, is an important read about ‘the word’ and ‘identity’— Whorf and Sapir had it right: Language not only shapes our view of the world but also who we are.”
“The big question that arises from Things We Do Not Talk About is what exactly does it mean to be a Latino writer? Is it merely a writer who happens to be born Latino? Or does it go beyond that? Does it specifically mean a writer of that heritage who presents the culture in his or her writing? … These identity questions discussed by Olivas and his subjects are universal, as are the other aspects of the writing life covered here—from the contentment of knowing people are somewhere out there reading your work to the hardships of trying to write around your everyday life … The drive of these writers to express their experience is what pushes them.”
“Daniel Olivas le toma el pulso a la literatura latina contemporánea en su nuevo libro Things We Do Not Talk About, que explora el proceso creativo, la política del mundo editorial y del diario vivir a través de ensayos personales y entrevistas con importantes personalidades de las letras hispanas.”
“The author does a grand job of showing that Latinos, although having a commonality of Spanish in most instances, are citizens that come from all walks of life and struggle to attain the American dream just like everyone else. And this is why his essays are powerful and insightful and why the title Things We Do Not Talk About fits perfectly."
“After 24 years as a lawyer in the California Department of Justice, Daniel A. Olivas has heard a lot of stories. His seventh book, Things We Do Not Talk About, gathers essays from periodicals as diverse as The Raven Chronicles and The New York Times, as well as interviews with 28 Latino and Latina writers.”
“In this time of divisive politics about immigration, Daniel’s book introduces a rich trove of immigrant writers whose stories can educate and entertain.”