Connecting Latinas All Over the World through Literature

September 2016: Vanessa Garcia and Sonia Manzano

September Book of the month:
septauthor200  White-Light-CoverFINAL263

WHITE LIGHT by Vanessa Garcia

Publisher: Shade Mountain Press

ISBN-13: 978-0991355549


Vanessa Garcia is a multidisciplinary artist working as a novelist, playwright, and journalist. Her debut novel, White Light, was published in 2015, to great critical acclaim. Named one of the Best Books of 2015 by NPR, Al Dia, Flavorwire, and numerous other publications and institutions, the novel catapulted Garcia into the “2016 Top 10 New Latino Writers to Watch (and Read).”

Her plays have been produced in Edinburgh, Miami, Los Angeles, New York, and other cities around the world. These include The Cuban Spring (a full-length Carbonell Award nominee for Best New Play, 2015) and The Crocodile’s Bite (a short included in numerous anthologies such as Smith & Kraus’ Best Ten Minute Plays of 2016; the City Theatre Anthology 2015; and the Writer’s Digest Annual Award Anthology, 2015).

As a journalist, feature writer, and essayist, her pieces have appeared in The LA Times; The Miami Herald; The Washington Post; The Southern Humanities Review; The Art Basel Magazine; The Rumpus, among numerous other publications. She’s also a Huffington Post blogger.

She holds a PhD from the University of California Irvine in English (with a focus in Creative Nonfiction), an MFA from the University of Miami (in fiction), and a BA from Barnard College, Columbia University (English and Art History).

She’s currently completing a memoir entitled My Cuban Routes.



Just before her father’s sudden death, Cuban-American artist Veronica Gonzalez is offered her first gallery exhibit, a real chance to break into the art world. Torn between the need to mourn and the pressure to create new artwork, Veronica is propelled into a fever-dream of productivity and grief.

With her love of art as her spiritual compass, Veronica finds solace in her mother and sister and also her protégé Leo, a young Dominican poet whose brother was killed in the 9/11 attacks in New York. At the same time, she finds herself growing more distant from the values of her Argentinian entrepreneur boyfriend.

As she works on new paintings and installations, the creative process itself helps Veronica find the common thread in private grief and national tragedies. She also gains perspective on her relationship with her colorful but infuriating father, a volatile man of outsize appetites and passions who never stopped longing for his Cuban homeland.

Veronica’s art becomes a way to tell stories—those of her father, of Leo, of strangers in old photographs, and her own stories: her loyalties and resentments, her sense of unfulfilled spiritual longing, her capacity to be engulfed by the beauty of the nighttime ocean in Hawaii, stained-glass cathedral windows in Paris, a Zen rock garden in Kyoto.

Praised by Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka for its “lyrical pace and texture,” White Light maps a young woman’s struggle to impose order on chaos, create something beautiful and lasting, and distill her grief, rage, and love onto the canvas.


FB: Vanessa Garcia

Twitter: @vanessathekrane

Instagram: @vgarcia43

Pinterest: @vgarcia43

Publisher Site:

– – – – – – – — – – – – – — – – – – – – — – – – – – – — – – – – – — – – – –

September 2016 Additional Conversations With:


BECOMING MARIA by Sonia Manzano

Publisher: Scholastic Press

ISBN-13: 978-0545621847


Pura Belpre Honor winner for The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano and one of America’s most influential Hispanics–‘Maria’ on Sesame Street–delivers a beautifully wrought coming-of-age memoir.

Set in the 1950s in the Bronx, this is the story of a girl with a dream. Emmy award-winning actress and writer Sonia Manzano plunges us into the daily lives of a Latino family that is loving–and troubled. This is Sonia’s own story rendered with an unforgettable narrative power. When readers meet young Sonia, she is a child living amidst the squalor of a boisterous home that is filled with noisy relatives and nosy neighbors. Each day she is glued to the TV screen that blots out the painful realities of her existence and also illuminates the possibilities that lie ahead. But–click!–when the TV goes off, Sonia is taken back to real-life–the cramped, colorful world of her neighborhood and an alcoholic father. But it is Sonia’s dream of becoming an actress that keeps her afloat among the turbulence of her life and times. Spiced with culture, heartache, and humor, this memoir paints a lasting portrait of a girl’s resilience as she grows up to become an inspiration to millions.


Sonia Manzano is a first-generation American of Latino descent who has affected the lives of millions of parents and children since the early 1970s, when she was offered an opportunity to play “Maria” on Sesame Street.

Manzano was raised in the South Bronx where her involvement in the arts was inspired by teachers who encouraged her to audition for the High School of Performing Arts. She was accepted there and began her career as an actress. A scholarship took her to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and in her junior year, she came to New York to star in the original production of the off-Broadway show Godspell. Within a year, Manzano joined the production of Sesame Street, where she eventually began writing scripts for the series. She was thrilled to help write the story line for “Maria’s” marriage and birth of “Maria’s” baby, played for a while by Manzano’s real-life daughter Gabriela.

Manzano has performed on the New York stage in the critically acclaimed theater pieces The Vagina Monologues and The Exonerated and Love Loss and What I Wore.

She is an advisor for literary NY institution Symphony Space and is often a reader for Selected Shorts. She regularly reads for their adult literacy program All-Write.

She has written for the Peabody Award-winning children’s series, Little Bill, and has written a parenting column for the Sesame Workshop web site called Talking Out Loud. Her children’s book, No Dogs Allowed! published by Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing in 2004. In 2005 General Mills selected No Dogs Allowed! for their Spoonfuls of Stories series. Over one million copies of No Dogs Allowed! were given away in cereal boxes courtesy of General Mills.

Her first young adult novel entitled The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, published by Scholastic was a Pura Belpre Honor. Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx, is a memoir published by Scholastic, 8/25/2015. Miracle on 133rd Street is a picture book published by Simon and Schuster, 9/25/2015.

Donated her services to the Bronx Children’s Museum by writing picture book, The Lowdown on the Highbridge. Sale of the book proceeds will go to the operations and efforts of an actual museum for the children of the Bronx. Volunteers for the Bronx River Alliance.

She enjoys traveling the country giving comedic speeches with substance.



Twitter: @SoniaMManzano

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On YoutubeVisit Us On Pinterest