By Nathan Deuel
FROM: Los Angeles Times
Joan Didion is inescapable, an icon, and so essential to California’s story of itself that some even call her Los Angeles’ first public intellectual. It requires a certain bravery to tackle her legacy.
Steph Cha discusses her new novel “Your House Will Pay,” the LA Riots, the Korean American Angeleno community, her 3,600 Yelp reviews, and pushing back against gatekeepers in publishing.
By Victoria Namkung
On March 16, 1991, 15-year-old Latasha Harlins went to a local convenience store in South Los Angeles to buy a bottle of orange juice. Owner Soon Ja Du accused the teenage girl of shoplifting, an altercation ensued, and in a split-second captured on video, Du shot Harlins in the back of the head. She died with two dollars in her hand. A jury found Du guilty of voluntary manslaughter, but against their recommendation, the judge sentenced the Korean-born woman to a $500 fine, probation, and community service.
By Victoria Chang
FROM: The Normal School
Sometimes I wish I didn’t try and fix everything from your childhood. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t tried so hard to help you memorize your math facts when you weren’t ready. Sometimes I wonder how many mistakes I am making now that will become clearer only later.
By Eisa Nefertari Ulen
Award-winning poet Shonda Buchanan honors multiple literary traditions in her breathtaking new memoir, Black Indian. An educator, freelance writer, and literary editor, Buchanan is a culture worker with deep, decades-long engagement in communities of color. Her work honors the complexity and diversity of these Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. At once Indigenous, Black Female, Speculative, Feminist, Womanist, Urban, Southern Gothic, and counter to the Tragic Mulatto stereotype in American literature, stage, and film, Black Indian is a quintessentially American narrative.
By Michael Jaime-Becerra
FROM: Los Angeles Times
When I was a boy, we didn’t celebrate Halloween. I recall trick-or-treating once, the year I was 5, my mother taking my sister and me to our nana’s house in South El Monte, me in a cowboy costume, my caramel-colored corduroy vest and chaps fresh from my mother’s sewing machine, my sister’s ladybug costume too. We approached a few houses to collect whatever candy we could, and aside from a future Halloween party or two and our elementary school’s costume parade, that was it.
By Michael Nava
FROM: Los Angeles Review of Books
Cherríe Moraga has been an iconic figure in queer and Latinx literature since the 1981 publication of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, an anthology she edited with the late Gloria Anzaldúa. Bridge was among the first explorations of how people and communities with multiple social identities — queer women of color, for example — are subject to intersecting discriminations that create complex and profound forms of oppression — what we now call intersectionality. In the decades since Bridge, Moraga has produced fiction, poetry, and plays, received awards and fellowships, and taught at Stanford University and the University of California at Santa Barbara. Even with these credentials, she, like other queer writers of color, has been patronized by a largely white, straight literary establishment, which often dismisses work like hers as special interest pleading, while hailing the work of straight, white writers for its universality.