New Books Offer Some Late Summer Reading

Santiago’s ‘Conquistadora’ called ‘Gone With the Wind’ of our time.

By EGP News Report

Puerto Rico, on the brink of a new identity, comes to life this summer in Esmeralda Santiago’s most recent novel, “Conquistadora.”

The lush, sensual, aggressive and altogether alluring world of Puerto Rico’s own formative years unfolds in captivating detail in the latest book by the author of  “When I was Puerto Rican,” now available in hard copy from Alfred A. Knopf Publishing.

Conquistadora by Esmeralda Santiago

Booklist calls Conquistadora “an extraordinary novel” and “storytelling genius,” while Publishers Weekly claims it’s a “Puerto Rican Gone with the Wind.”

Like Gone with the Wind, Conquistadora features a hard-as-nails heroine, Ana Cubillas, devoted to her plantation and involved in a web of suitors and romance.

Ana, a not-so-innocent girl who grows up in a convent in southwest Spain, marries her best friend’s fiancé’s twin brother, then heads to Puerto Rico without her friend but with both twins in tow. The young men intend to make their fortunes managing a sugar plantation, but it is Ana who has the business-savvy and determination to persevere through hurricanes, slave revolts, cholera, and any other challenge the island has to offer, relying on an assortment of slaves, servants, and employees, among them the mayordomo Severo Fuentes, who dares to want Ana for his wife, according to Publishers Weekly.

The novel is an epic of Puerto Rico, described in all its beauty and cruelty, set across three decades. It tells the story of Puerto Rico in the mid-nineteenth century—a period of technological advances, political turmoil, and the beginnings of a distinct Puerto Rican identity, as well as shocking reality of an economy that relied almost entirely on slave labor.
Pulitzer Prize-wining author Oscar Hijuelos assures that the story will be “unforgettable” for readers and “will not only enlighten, but delight.”
The book is available through Alfred A. Knopf Publishing and is also available in audio format from Random House.

The Untold Story of the Father of Japanese American Baseball
Baseball historian and author Bill Staples’s tireless research and love for America’s pastime have resulted in a compelling biography of the “Father of Japanese American Baseball,” Kenichi Zenimura.

Kenichi Zenimura, The Untold Story of the Father of Japanese American Baseball, by Bill Staples

An essential read for any baseball faithful, “Kenichi Zenimura, Japanese American Baseball Pioneer” tells the story of the most influential figure in the Japanese American Nisei Leagues.

A phenomenal player who excelled at all nine positions, “Zeni” possessed a gift for using the game to transcend the ignorance and intolerance of his era, according to recent book reviews.

As a player, Zenimura competed with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and other Hall of Famers from the Negro League. As a captain and manager, he worked tirelessly to export the American style of play in Japan, leading several goodwill trips to Asia and helping to negotiate tours of Japan by Negro League all-stars and Babe Ruth.

One of the most fascinating chapters of the new biography, however, documents Zeni’s establishment of a 32-team league behind the barbed wire of Arizona’s Gila River Internment Camp during World War II.

In recognition of Zenimura’s efforts during World War II and the internment of Japanese Americans in Arizona as one of the most significant events of Arizona history in the past 100 years, the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission named Zenimura’s biography an official Arizona Centennial Legacy Project.

“The story of Zenimura is more than just about 20th-centrury Japanese American baseball, it’s about the timeless and shared human condition. Anyone who’s had to overcome huge obstacles to achieve a dream or goal will relate to his story,” says author Bill Staples.

The book is available in both soft-cover and eBook formats and can be ordered online at www.zenimura.com or through traditional online book retailers including Amazon (www.amazon.com), Barnes & Noble (www.bn.com), Walmart (www.walmart.com) and others.

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August 11, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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