By Gabriel San Román
The holidays are here and this year is in need of good tidings as much as any other. In these times of plague and prejudice, readers have sought refuge by burying themselves in books. With that in mind, Off the Page has curated a holiday gift guide of ten works by authors of color across genres to keep up healthy reading habits. Whether poetry, fiction, short stories, memoirs or even a cookbook, these selections from local writers and beyond are all available through LibroMobile, downtown SanTana’s intrepid indie bookstore!
Before turning the page on 2020, let’s end the year by supporting the small businesses and local creatives that are working hard to change who gets to tell our stories!
Contortionist Tongue by Dania Ayah Alkhouli
Dania Alkhouli’s Contortionist Tongue arrived just before coronavirus staked claim to the world. If not for all that it has wrought, the local Syrian American Muslim writer would’ve delighted more in-person audiences with readings from her evocative collection of poetry and prose. Instead, Alkhouli had to cancel her book launch party in mid-March while taking readings online. But Contortionist Tongue is as irrepressible as its author’s voice, offering insightful explorations of womanhood. In “This is How it Feels to Be a Woman,” Alkhouli likens it to the smothering of a candle’s flame against its will, a quick literary incision that howls like a paper cut to the soul, only the sting lingers for much longer. A lighter, but no less vivid portrait is painted when the poet recounts teaching her grandmother in Syria how to use her iPhone to stay in touch after she departs. Alkhouli is a poet of great promise!
Buy Contortionist Tongue from LibroMobile here.
Chicano Eats: Recipes from My Mexican-American Kitchen by Esteban Castillo
Four years ago, Esteban Castillo launched his “Chicano Eats” blog as a way to share his favorite recipes. It seemingly capped a culinary journey brought forth by the cultural hunger pangs felt when he left SanTana for Humboldt. But the blog’s popularity skyrocketed and now has inspired his new cookbook by the same name. Chicano Eats is user friendly, with colorful photographs and brisk descriptions accompanying recipes that don’t leave measurements to guesswork. Castillo offers an array of recipes for everything from tacos de papa to michelada ribs to dulce de leche chocoflan. And I always say, cookbooks are the holiday gifts that keep on giving all year long!
Buy Chicano Eats by Esteban Castillo from LibroMobile here.