I am really pleased and excited to be part of a recent initiative led by U.S. Studies Online called #bookhour. Basically it is a monthly discussion on Twitter about a pre-selected title, usually a new/recent release or an American Classic that has been re-released in a new edition. I was asked to join the #bookhour team by U.S. Studies Online co-editor, Michelle Green, who I met at the FWSA Biennial Conference in 2013. It just goes to show how valuable conference attendance can be in terms of the people you meet. Michelle asked me to come on board knowing my background in Chicana/o literature. There are a small number of us working in Chicana/o studies in Ireland and the UK, so I am always eager to find ways to promote the area, and to encourage people to read Chicana/o authors.
The first text I have selected for #bookhour is Mañana Means Heaven by Tim Z. Hernandez, an historical novel about “the Mexican girl” in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I have had this one on my “to read list” for a while. But I also chose this book because it poses a good opportunity to bring together Chicana/o and American literature scholars, being a story that rests on the border between those two areas, as well as being a story that takes place near the border between the U.S. and Mexico. One of my favourite quotations about the literatures of the Americas comes from Paul Jay who states that American literary “criticism can best be revitalized by paying more attention to locations that are between or which transgress conventional national borders—liminal margins or border zones in which individual and national identities migrate, merge, and hybridize” (167). If this is the case, then #bookhour is going in the right direction, considering that in the first half of this year it includes works by American, Nigerian, Chicano and Canadian authors.
My first #bookhour will take place on the 28th of April at 9pm. The discussion leaders who will be joining me are Niamh Thornton (Liverpool), a senior lecturer in Latin American studies with a focus on Mexican film and literature, Eilidh Hall (UEA), a doctoral researcher in Chicana literature and culture, and Nicola Moffat (UCC), a doctoral researcher in English literature with a focus on monstrosity and performativity.
Hernandez, Tim Z. Mañana Means Heaven. AZ: U of AZ P, 2013. Print.
Jay, Paul. “The Myth of America and the Politics of Location: Modernity, Border Studies, and the Literature of the Americas.” Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory 54.2 (Summer 1998): 165-192. Project Muse. Web. 17 April 2015.
Kerouac, Jack. On the Road. 1957. NY: Penguin, 1999. Print.