Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Jaya and Rasa: A Love Story

Jaya and Rasa: A Love Story
A novel by Sonia Patel

Publishes September 2017

Jaya’s a rich kid. Rasa’s broke. Opposite sides of the tracks. Romeo and Juliet, on fair Oahu. A testament to the healing power of love.

Seventeen-year-old Jaya Mehta detests wealth, secrets, and privilege, though he has them all. The big secret he keeps from his traditional Gujarati Indian parents: he's transgender. Rasa Santos, a beautiful young woman, is of mixed ethnicity. She's the sole provider for her three younger siblings, three of them. Rasa's only inheritance is her stunning beauty and her mother's trade, prostitution. Neither Jaya nor Rasa have ever known real love or close family—not until their chance meeting one sunny day on a mountain in Hau’ula.

The unlikely love that blooms between them must survive the stranglehold their respective pasts have on them. Each of their present identities has been shaped by years of extreme family struggles. By the time they cross paths, Jaya is a transgender outsider with depressive tendencies and the stunningly beautiful Rasa thinks sex is her only power until a violent pimp takes over her life. Will their love transcend and pull them forward, or will they remain stuck and separate in the chaos of their pasts? In the end, their story is a testament to the healing power of love.

SONIA PATEL'S YA debut, Rani Patel In Full Effect, was a finalist for the Morris Award, was listed on YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults, and was named by Kirkus Reviews as one of the Best Teen Books of 2016. Patel is a psychiatrist who works with children and adults. She was trained at Stanford University and the University of Hawaii. She lives and practices in Hawaii.

Follow Sonia on Twitter and Facebook. You want be disappointed. Sonia rocks with a hip hop Hawaiian beat.

Jaya and Rasa: A Love Story

978-1-941026-86-1, hardback, $16.95
978-1-941026-87-8, trade paper, $11.95


Monday, July 31, 2017

Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky by David Bowles

Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky:
The Myths of Mexico 
By David Bowles

A contemporary retelling of the origin myths of Mexico, crafted as a single fluid and cohesive narrative.


The stories in Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky trace the history of the world from its beginnings in the dreams of the dual god Ometeotl, to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in Mexico and the fall of the great city Tenochtitlan. In the course of that history we learn about the Creator Twins, Feathered Serpent, and Dark Heart of Sky, and how they built the world on a leviathan’s back; of the shape-shifting nahualli; and the aluxes—elfish beings known to help out the occasional wanderer. And finally, we read Aztec tales about the arrival of the blonde strangers from across the sea, the strangers who seek to upend the rule of Motecuhzoma and destroy the very stories we are reading.

David Bowles stitches together the fragmented mythology of pre-Colombian Mexico into an exciting, unified narrative in the tradition of William Buck’s Ramayana, Robert Fagles’ Iliad, and Neil Gaiman’s Norse Myths. General readers who enjoy learning about the mythologies of cultures will delight in this rich retelling of these little known stories of Mexico.

Legends and myths captured David Bowles’ imagination as a young Latino reader. He was fascinated with epics like the Iliad and the Odyssey. Despite growing up on the United States/Mexico border, he had never read a single Aztec or Mayan myth until he was in college. This experience inspired him to reconnect with that forgotten past. Several of his previous books have incorporated themes from ancient Mexican myths.

Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky
ISBN 978-1-941026-71-7, hardback, $24.95
ISBN 978-1-941026-72-4, trade paper, $16.95

Distributed by Consortium Book Sales and Distribution / Publishes January 2018

Monday, July 17, 2017


From Bookstores everywhere
$18 Special at Cinco Puntos
Store or Website until Labor Day

An Underground Cultural History
Of El Paso and Juárez: 1893-1923
By David Dorado Romo

240 Historical photographs and images
Including 15 full-spread photographs
And 30 photographs filling one page.
Trade paper 978-0938317-91-3 $26.95

Ringside Seat to a Revolution...is
‘people’s history’ at its best.”
—Howard Zinn

“Thank you for giving us back our stories.”
—Many students and Mexican-Americans
To David Dorado Romo after publication
Of Ringside Seat to a Revolution.

El Paso/Juárez served as the tinderbox of the Mexican Revolution and the tumultuous years to follow. In essays and 240 archival photographs, David Romo tells the surreal stories at the roots of the greatest Latin American revolution: The sainted beauty queen Teresita inspires revolutionary fervor and is rumored to have blessed the first rifles of the revolutionaries; anarchists publish newspapers and hatch plots against the hated Porfirio Diaz regime; Mexican outlaw Pancho Villa eats ice cream cones and rides his Indian motorcycle happily through downtown; El Paso’s gringo mayor wears silk underwear because he is afraid of Mexican lice; John Reed contributes a never-before-published essay; young Mexican maids refuse to be deloused so they shut down the border and back down Pershing’s men in the process; vegetarian and spiritualist Francisco Madero institutes the Mexican revolutionary junta in El Paso before crossing into Juárez to his ill-fated presidency and assassination; and bands play Verdi while firing squads go about their deadly business. Romo’s work does what Mike Davis’ City of Quartz did for Los Angeles—it presents a subversive and contrary vision of the sister cities during this crucial time for both countries.

Truly, the best seats in the house for watching the spectacle of the Mexican Revolution were located along the Rio Grande in El Paso, Texas and its sister city Juárez, Chihuahua. Indeed, these cities—like the city of Boston, Massachusetts, for the American Revolution—served as the intellectual crucible for the Mexican Revolution. This is where the first modern revolution of Latin America began. The heroes and images of this people’s uprising still populate the border’s cultural landscape like ghosts.

But as with so many histories that involve peoples and cultures of color, we’ve always seen the events through the wrong set of eyes. David Dorado Romo—a micro-historian, a man with his feet on both sides of the Rio Grande—gives us new eyes and a re-imagined perspective to witness these revolutionary years. Through detailed research, archival photographs and great storytelling, he relates the history of a long-ignored cultural and political renaissance that was born of the conflict to depose the Díaz Regime and the bloody struggles that followed. His history helps us define fronterizos, a hybrid group of people—not wholly Mexican, not wholly American—who played an essential role in launching the Mexican Revolution. This marvelous cast of characters includes well known characters like the people’s revolutionary, Pancho Villa, who rides his Indian motorcycle through the streets of El Paso; Felipe Angeles who, after a speech of love and prophecy, dies a beautiful death standing before a firing squad; and Teresa Urrea, la Santa de Cabora, who was the spiritual inspiration for so many of the paisanos who gave their lives for Mexico.

But Ringside Seat is also about insurrection from the perspective of the peripheral characters: military band musicians who played Verdi operas during executions in Juárez; filmmakers who came to the border to make silent movies like The Greaser’s Revenge and Guns and Greasers; female bullfighters; poets; jazz musicians; Anglo pool hustlers reborn as postcard salesmen; Chinese illegal aliens; arms smugglers; and, of course, revolutionaries, counterrevolutionaries and counter-counter-revolutionaries.

“David Romo’s Ringside Seat to a Revolution is a fascinating glimpse into unknown scenes of the Mexican Revolution of 1911. He takes us into El Paso and Juárez-facing one another across the Rio Grande-in the years just before and just after the exciting events of the revolution itself. It is close up and personal history-through the eyes of an extraordinary cast of characters. It is ‘people’s history’ at its best.”
—Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States

“David Romo’s micro-history is brilliant. Here you’ll find what official history seems to ignore: the salt of the earth, the surprising anecdote, rumors, the absurd.”
—Paco Ignacio Taibo II, Mexican historian and author

“This is an extraordinary book. For those who love the tangled history of Texas and Mexico and their tragic border, it’s a treasure.”
Dallas Morning News

2017 Edition published in Cooperation with the
William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies,
Southern Methodist University

David Dorado Romo, Ph.D., the son of Mexican immigrants, is a fronterizo historian specializing in U.S.-Mexico Borderlands History, Global Migration, Urban Studies and Public History. Ringside Seat to a Revolution is the result of his three-year exploration of archives detailing the cultural and political roots of the Mexican revolution along la Frontera. Currently, he is the Mellon Resident Scholar at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is working on a book titled Mexican Nazis & Global Pachucos: Propaganda, Intelligence and the Production of Border Invasion Anxiety. In 2015, he was a Fulbright Research Scholar at El Colegio de México, in Mexico City. He also the recipient of the Outstanding Public History Project Award as co-director of the Museo Urbano from the National Council on Public History.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Party in the indy aisle! Join us at ALA, Booth 3120A

Chicago ALA 2017 Starts Friday

Cinco Puntos is sharing a space with our friends from Akashic Books, in the lively aisle of independent publishers. Stop by anytime, BOOTH 3120A.

Cynthia Weill will join Cinco Puntos in Booth 3120A on Saturday at 10 a.m., and will sign books from her First Concepts in Mexican Folk Art series until they run out.

Author Cynthia Weill works with folk artists from around the world to illustrate basic concepts for children. She's trained as an art historian and has worked as both an educator and art historian, and is the director of the Center for Children’s Literature at Bank Street College in New York.

Donovan Mixon sets up shop Sunday at 12:30 p.m. in the Cinco Puntos Booth, signing copies of his debut novel, Ahgottahandleonit. If you've read August Wilson’s plays and loved them, you’ll love what Donovan is doing in Ahgottahandleonit. Amazing dialogue, music from the street.
Donovan is also bringing his guitar, so you'll have an opportunity to hear his smooth jazz sounds AND get his book.

Stop by and say hello!
Lee Byrd and Jessica Powers will hold court at the Cinco Puntos booth at ALA in Chicago, June 22-27, Booth 3120A. Pop over and tell them what's new.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

First Time Ever: TIL comes to El Paso

El Paso Hosts
Texas Institute of Letters Annual Conference, April 7 & 8

Here at the very edge of Texas, we have this joke.

People ask us, Where are you from?
We say, El Paso.
Oh, they say, you’re from Texas. 
No, we say, we’re from El Paso.

Well, the prestigious TEXAS INSTITUTE OF LETTERS (TIL) wants to put an end to our wise-cracking. For the first time in its 81-year existence, El Paso is hosting the TIL’s Annual Conference and Book Awards. And the TIL is pulling out all the stops with a great series of events and a celebration banquet that features El Paso writers. AND a couple of tunes by 2017 TIL inductee Joe Ely. What? Honky-tonk, Texas-country, Tex-Mex, rock-&-roller Joe Ely? Yep! All this thanks to the hard work and joyful enthusiasm of TIL President Steve Davis, Vice-President Carmen Tafolla and council member, El Paso’s own Sergio Troncoso.

The El Paso Connection

El Paso writers will be front and center. At the Saturday night banquet, award winning novelist, poet and children’s book author Benjamin Alire Saenz will read; nationally acclaimed poet and children’s book author Pat Mora will receive the Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement at the banquet; and author and anthologist Marcia H. Daudistel will present a short video of El Paso's literary landscape. On Saturday, novelist, poet, journalist C.M. Mayo and novelist / poet Alicia Gaspar de Alba will read at their inductions into the TIL at 1 p.m event. 

Novelist (a Dobie fellow!) and co-publisher of El Paso’s Cinco Puntos Press, Lee Merrill Byrd will read at her induction Friday evening, 7:30 p.m. Poet, essayist and co-publisher of El Paso’s Cinco Puntos Press, Bobby Byrd will read at his induction Friday evening, 7:30 p.m.

Playing for the Devil's Fire Honored by the Texas Institute of Letters

Cinco Puntos author Phillippe Diederich won the 2017 H-E-B Award for Best Young Adult Book for Playing for the Devil's Fire. Phillippe is coming to El Paso to receive his award at the Children Awards on Saturday morning and to attend the banquet.

To honor the arrival of the TIL in El Paso, Cinco Puntos will be open on Friday (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and Saturday (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.), April 7-8. Cinco Puntos is a pleasant ten-minute walk from the conference (some street construction not withstanding), which will include a peep at the Luis Jimenez alligator sculpture if you go through the beautiful remodeled plaza.

Cinco Puntos Press invites the 300 members of the Texas Institute of Letters to come by for a 50% discount, and invites the rest of El Paso to come through the store and congratulate the Byrds on decades of diverse publishing.

Events to Remember

9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Children's Book Awards in the Sky Lounge at the Downtown Doubletree by Hilton. Reception and breakfast/brunch refreshments, followed by an awards ceremony. Introduction of new TIL members, David Bowles and Elaine Scott. Cinco Puntos Press author Phillippe Diederich will recieve his award for Best Young Adult Fiction. Free and open to the public.

1 p.m. to 3 p.m. New TIL Member Reception and Reading in the Sky Lounge at the Downtown Doubletree by Hilton. Introduction of new TIL members, including El Paso's own Alice Gaspar de Alba and C.M. Mayo, plus Celeste Bedford Walker, Cary Clack, Elizabeth Harris, Cliff Hudder, Baine Kerr and Rosalyn Story. Free and open to the public.

5:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. Reception followed by 8 p.m. Texas Institute of Letters Banquet at Ardovino's Desert Crossing. TIL President Steve Davis and Vice President Carmen Tafolla serve as hosts and emcees. Special guests: New TIL member Joe Ely, PEN/Faulkner winning author and TIL member Benjamin Alire Saenz. Nationally acclaimed author and El Paso native Pat Mora will receive the Tinkle Award for Lifetime Achievement. Literary El Paso editor Marcia Hatfield Daudistel will present a video celebrating El Paso's literary ambiente. Plus Stephen Harrigan, Skip Hollandsworth and Paulette Jiles will receive TIL Book Awards. A great evening.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Cynthia Weill’s Enchanting Bilingual Board Book Collection

Cynthia Weill’s Enchanting Bilingual Board Book Collection

A new collection of board books, based on the popular First Concepts in Mexican Folk Art series. In Spanish & English for children 3 and older.

All five of Cynthia’s bilingual series First Concepts in Mexican Folk Art are now board books! Each book features different kinds of alebrijes―brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of wood, clay and paper mache. The figures depict magically real animals and people created by some of the greatest folk artisans in the world. And each book teaches a different concept for very young learners―ABCs, opposites, colors, counting and animals talking—in English and Spanish! 

The set includes:

ABCs in Spanish and English
Hand-painted animals by Moisés and Armando Jiménez
Board Book 978-1-941026-66-3 / 32 pages | $9.95
“An outstanding alphabet book, this is highly recommended...” —Críticas

Opposites in Spanish and English

Hand-carved and painted animals by Martin and Santiago Quirino
Board Book 978-1-941026-68-7 / 32 pages | $9.95
“Direct and charming.” —Publishers Weekly

Colors in Spanish and English

Illustrated by a variety of artists from the mountains of Oaxaca
Board Book 978-1-941026-67-0 / 32 pages | $9.95
“The sculptures are hypnotic.” —Publishers Weekly
Numbers in Spanish and English
Clay figures created and hand-painted by the famous Aguilar Sisters

Board Book 978-1-941026-70-0 / 32 pages | $9.95
“This peek into Mexico’s art and traditions is certainly one of the most joyous children will encounter.” —Kirkus Reviews

Animal Sounds in Spanish and English
Hand-carved and painted by Rubi Fuentes and Efrain Broa

Board Book 978-1-941026-69-4 / 32 pages | $9.95
“This interactive picture book is sure to be a young crowd-pleaser and storytime favorite.” —School Library Journal

Cynthia Weill is the director of the Center for Children’s Literature at Bank Street College in New York. She received her PhD from the Teachers College of Columbia University. She is trained as an art historian and has worked as both an educator and art historian. She works with folk artists from around the world to illustrate basic concepts for children. She lives in New York City.

Praise for the First Concepts Collection

“These five adorable bilingual concept books introduce the littlest learners to the alphabet, colors, counting, opposites and animal sounds.” —De Colores

“A beautiful, playful, child-centric approach to language learning.” —Kirkus Reviews


Monday, February 20, 2017

The Right Way to be Crippled and Naked

The Right Way to be Crippled and Naked 

The Fiction of Disability: An Anthology

Edited by Shelia Black • Michael Northen • Annabelle Hayes

Welcome to the worlds of the disabled. The physically disabled. The mentally disabled. The emotionally disabled. What does that word “disabled” mean anyway? Is there a right way to be crippled? Editors Sheila Black and Michael Northen (co-editors of the highly praised anthology Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability) join newcomer Annabelle Hayse to present short stories by Dagoberto Gilb, Anne Finger, Stephen Kuusisto, Thom Jones, Lisa Gill, Floyd Skloot, and others. These authors—all who experience the “disability” they write about—crack open the cage of our culture's stereotypes. We look inside, and, through these people we thought broken, we uncover new ways of seeing and knowing.

When you’re disabled, you don’t have to be naked to be naked.

Praise for The Right Way to be Crippled and Naked 

“I remember I believed all my problems would be solved, if only I were beautiful. Then I was beautiful.”  —Jonathan Mack, from The Right Way to be Crippled and Naked

Trade paper $19.95 / 978-1-941026-35-9

E-Book $19.99 / 978-1-941026-36-6

Publishes Fall 2016

Eileen Cronin's Sit Down with Dagoberto Gilb
Gets to the Heart of His Work

“Today it seems particularly relevant to sit down with a writer who worked in construction, who built a career of exploring the everyday life of East Angeleno men struggling to build their version of the American Dream, and who now physically struggles to read and write,” writes Eileen Cronin in the introduction to her long-form interview with Dagoberto Gilb. 

The two talk about his work, his experience with disability, and the new anthology,
The Right Way to be Crippled and Naked. 

Read Sheila Black's moving essay,
Passing My Disability on to My Children

“Pain — both physical and psychic — is a part of my two younger kids’ daily experience, and it is the part that is hardest for me to get over.”

MICHAEL NORTHEN is the editor of Wordgathering, A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature. With Sheila Black and Jennifer Bartlet, he co-edited Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability and is the past facilitator of the Inglis House Poetry Workshop for writers with disabilities. As an educator for over 40 years, he has taught adults with physical disabilities, women on public assistance, prisoners, and rural and inner city children.

is the author of three poetry collections: Love/Iraq, House of Bone and, most recently, Wen Kroy, which won the 2011 Orphic Prize in Poetry from Dream Horse Press). She is also a co-editor with Jennifer Bartlett and Michael Northen of Beauty is a Verb: the New Poetry of Disability, published by Cinco Puntos Press and named a 2012 Notable Book for Adults by the American Library Association (ALA). She received a 2012 Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress for which she was selected by Philip Levine. She lives in San Antonio, Texas where she directs Gemini Ink, a literary arts center.

Contributing Authors 

Michael Northen, “Introduction” | Kobus Moolman, “The Swimming Lesson” | Tantra Bensko, “Virus on Fire” | Raymond Luczak, “Winter Eyes” | Noria Jablonski, “Solo in the Spotlight” | Bobbi Lurie, “The Protective Effects of Sex” | Jonathan Mack, “The Right Way to be Crippled and Naked” | Jillian Weise, “Raymond Carvers’s Cathedral” | Stephen Kuuisisto, “Plato Again” | Liesl Jobson, “Still Life in the Art Room” | Joe Vastano, “Twinning” | Kara Dorris, “In the Waiting Room” | Megan Granata, “The Sitting” | Ellen McGrath Smith, “Two Very Different Things” | Anne Finger, “Comrade Luxemburg and Comrade Gramsci Pass Each Other in the Congress of the Second International on the 10th of March, 1912” | Nisi Shawl, “Deep End” | Dagberto Gilb, “please, thank you” | Thom Jones, “Angel at My Table” | Paul de Angera, “Riding the Bus” | Christopher John Heuer, “Trauma” | Ana Garza, “Rocks and Processes” | Ann Margaret Bogle, “Letter to John Berryman” | Alison Oatman, “Hospital Corners” | Robert Fagan, “Census” | Lisa Gill, “Holding Zeno’s Suitcase in Kansas, Flowering” | Gretchen Henderson, “Condensed” | Floyd Skloot, “Alzheimer’s Noir”



Book 4 D-Bow’s High School Hoops Series
by Kevin Waltman

Tune in for the big finale: It’s D-Bow’s senior year! 
Senior Year. Glory time! But nothing’s easy. Girls. Family. The rehabbed knee. And there’s this white guy. S’up with that?

D-Bow’s game has it all, and colleges are taking notice. But he’s still rehabbing a knee injury and his job as Marion East point guard is under threat. Plus he’s got family drama. And girl trouble. Can he put it all together for his senior season? Or will he crash and burn like so many Marion East players before him?

Praise for Kevin Waltman’s D-Bow’s High School Hoops Series

“Packed with ... action, but also impressively multifaceted, as it examines neighborhood rivalries, the tremendous pressures that come with making one’s first adult decisions, and the values of both teamwork and individuality.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“…Waltman wrings drama from believable day-to-day trials and triumphs, and he spikes the plot with extended play-by-plays called in Derrick’s voice, putting readers on court in the middle of the action.” —The Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books

978-1-941026-63-2, ebook $11.95

Distributed by Consortium Book Sales 

Published December 2016

KEVIN WALTMAN lived in Indiana for 18 years, played high school hoops. He remains a huge basketball fan. QUICKS is his sixth YA novel. His first two, both from Scholastic, are Nowhere Fast (2002) and Learning the Game (2005). The remaining four are a part of the D-Bow’s High School Hoops series. Kevin is an instructor at the University of Alabama and lives in Coker with his wife Jessica, their daughter Calla, their baby boy Holling and their dog Henry.

Praise for Kevin Waltman’s 4-Part D-Bow Hoops Series

NEXT, Freshman Year

KIRKUS—“Waltman’s series opener (first of a planned four) features plenty of basketball action fueled by hoops slang that will set basketball-mad readers right onto the court … The author avoids slam-dunk answers, leaving readers poised for the next book. Like Derrick, this series is off to a promising high school career.”

SLUMP, Sophomore Year

KIRKUS—“Having just been edged out by archrivals Hamilton Academy last year at Regionals [in the series opener NEXT], this year Derrick and his teammates plan to beat them—and then some… Waltman balances blazing hoops action against Derrick’s emotional growth. He and Coach Bolden continue to butt heads, but this year Derrick is better able to trust him; their developing relationship is complex and gratifying. Also nuanced is Derrick’s emerging sexuality; he learns quickly that losing his virginity comes with complications…With its deft balance of play-by-play action and off-the-court drama, this series scores.”

Pull, Junior Year

KIRKUS—“Readers who have followed D-Boy through his first two years at Marion East will find themselves slipping effortlessly back into his life, his candid, present-tense narration comfortably familiar. … Kevin Waltman continues to keep it both fresh and real for D-Bow.”

Cloth $16.95 978-1-935955-64-1
Paper $11.95 978-1-935955-65-8
E-book $11.95 978-1-935955-66-5

Cloth $16.95 978-1-941026-00-7
Paper $11.95 978-1-941026-01-4
E-book $11.95 978-1-941026-02-1

Cloth $16.95 978-1-941026-26-7
Paper $11.95 978-1-941026-27-4
E-book $11.95 978-1-941026-28-1


—A Book of Poems—

Paperback 9781941026656
Distributed by Consortium Book Sales 
Paper with French Flaps: $16.95
Publishes June 13, 2017 

A gay Latino’s intimate journey through addiction, human desire and broken love.

Benjamin Alire Saenz—winner of the 2013 Pen/Faulkner Award for his collection of stories Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club and celebrated YA novelist—comes back to the discipline of poetry to reveal his troubled passage through a beautiful but disastrous love affair, fueled, in part, by good wine and bad drugs. This is a time of terrible violence—in the world, in Juárez a ten minute walk away from his home, and at the corner convenience store where the homeless shuffle about, sucking on quarts of beer and selling drugs. Yet, through the healing practice of writing and painting, the poet intuits the innocent core of being human, a place nourished by compassion, the imagination and the exquisite taste of the last cigarette on earth.

"Benjamin Alire Saenz's poems are ballads. They’re stories but they also have a whiff of the life sailing by from the car just passing with the radio on. It’s music in stores selling stuff and suddenly it’s inside your heart too painful to ignore. I love the honesty of this work and the sharp sweet reminder that we pick up art, our own and other people’s (including their tattoos) same way birds hold onto something inside and out to fly forward. His tunes are wild and brave.” —Eileen Myles, Poet and Novelist

From “He Leaves a Message in the Middle of the Night”

He loved beer and crack. He loved heroin, ecstasy, 
the sad music of the bars. He said he loved you too. You are
thinking of the night you met him. Late October
night, the breeze as soft as his black eyes. He was
so hungry for trouble. You were so hungry
for anything that resembled love. Your finger 
tracing the tattoos on his chest, you dreamed
of living in the prison of his arms. But you refused
to live in the prison of his deadly nights. You
can't survive without the morning
light. You repeat this again and again:
He's a man, not an illness. Tattoos and prison. 
Novels and poems. A bird can love a fish but they can't
live in your apartment. He called again last night
and left a message that was meant to wound.
He said: I want to know what you meant when
you said I love you. You said: I love you. I meant I love you.
He said: I want to know what you meant when
you said goodbye. You said: Goodbye. I meant goodbye.

Benjamin Alire Sáenz is one the country’s most celebrated Latino authors, with a wide range of audiences. He’s a poet, he writes prose for adults and teens, and he’s written very successful illustrated books for kids. His collection of stories Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club (Cinco Puntos) was the winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the American Book Award for his books for adults and the Lambda Literary Award for Fiction. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Simon & Schuster) was a Printz Honor Book, the Stonewall Award winner, the Pura Belpre Award winner, the Lambda Literary Award winner. His first novel for teens, Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood (Cinco Puntos), was an ALA Top Ten Book for Young Adults and a finalist forthe Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Please take a moment to review Ben's complete Cinco Puntos collection: illustrated children's books, poetry books, young adult novels and adult fiction. Ben is a proud fronterizo, a Chicano, and he lives in El Paso.

Murder on the Red River

Murder on the Red River
by Marcie R. Rendon

A murdered man in a field. The sheriff calls on Cash—an almost-twenty-something tough, smart Indian woman with special seeing powers. 

Cash and Sheriff Wheaton make for a strange partnership. He pulled her from her mother’s wrecked car when she was three. He’s kept an eye out for her ever since. It’s a tough place to live—that part of the world where the Red River divides Minnesota and North Dakota. Cash navigated through foster homes, and at 13 was working farms. She’s tough as nails—barely over five feet, jeans and jean jacket, smokes Marlboros, drinks Bud Longnecks. Makes her living driving truck. Playing pool on the side. Wheaton is a big lawman type. Scandinavian stock, but darker skin than most. Something else in there? Cash hasn’t ever asked. He wants her to take hold of her life. Get into junior college.

So there they are, staring at the dead Indian lying in the field. Soon Cash was dreaming the dead man’s HUD house on the Red Lake Reservation, mother and kids waiting. She has that kind of knowing. That’s the place to start looking. There’s a long and dangerous way to go to find the men who killed him. Plus there’s Jim, the married white guy. And Long Braids, the Indian guy headed for Minneapolis to join the American Indian Movement.

“A coming of age story.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Feisty, sensitive, and smart.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“Marcie Rendon’s debut, Murder on Red River, features the magnetic Cash: aged-out foster child, girl pool shark, truck driver from Minnesota’s White Earth reservation. When a native man from nearby Red Lake is knifed, her cop friend Wheaton, a Longmire-type, enlists her help. Cash’s search takes her through her own hardscrabble memories of family and land sorrowfully lost—a journey that Rendon writes of with flat-out authority.” —Lisa Sandlin, The Do-Right, winner of the Dashiell Hammet award

“Cash. That’s what most people call the 19-year-old Chippewa woman Renee Blackbear in Rendon’s searing, soaring, and ultimately unflinching story of how Native people persevere in the face of policies and people that seek to destroy the essence of who they are.” —Debbie Reese, Nambe Pueblo

“Cash’s life experiences emerge as both landscape and resource to an investigation that engages the reader to the end.” —David Beaulieu, Ph.D., Professor of American Indian Education, University of Minnesota, Duluth. Enrolled White Earth Ojibwe.

“Marcie Rendon’s portrait of a Native woman detective is vibrant and rooted in the complexities of history and a place haunted by a violent past that refuses to loosen its grip.” —Jeff Berglund, Ph.D., Director of Liberal Studies, Northern Arizona University

“What kept me reading was getting to know Cash under her tough exterior, watching her come to terms with her harrowing, unjust past in white foster homes and fight to stop the next generation of Indian kids from suffering the same fate. Rendon’s descriptions capture the rural layout of the Midwest in the 1970s, expanses of farms and nothingness between small towns populated with churches and bars, and the persistent smell of wheat and earth. Not so much has changed in rural culture today. ” —Gwen Danfelt, Drury Lane Books

Distributed by Consortium Book Sales 

Publishes March 2017

Marcie R. Rendon is an enrolled member of the White Earth Anishinabe Nation. She is a mother, grandmother, writer, and sometimes performance artist. A former recipient of the Loft’s Inroads Writers of Color Award for Native Americans, she studied poetry under Anishinabe author Jim Northrup. Her first children’s book, Pow Wow Summer was reprinted by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2014. Murder on the Red River is her debut novel.

Why I wrote Murder on the Red River

“The historical trauma Native people live with today was not a path of their own choosing. From 1819 to 1934, Native children were systematically removed from families and put into boarding schools.

“There they grew up like prisoners of war—punished for speaking their languages, punished for talking to their siblings if they crossed paths. 115 years of children not seeing a mom and dad raise children. 115 years of children growing up not knowing how to hold a baby or protect a toddler. What they learned was to settle disagreements with silence, withdrawal or violence.

“Then they were sent home to the newly created reservation system where up until the mid-1960s it was common practice for county and state social workers to scoop up Native children and remove them to white foster or adoptive homes. Sandy White Hawk, Director of the First Nations Repatriation Institute, says, ‘I cannot imagine the entitlement the social worker must have felt to walk into a family and just take a child. I cannot imagine how emasculating it must have been for our men to watch that happen and not be able to do anything. My uncle remembers the social worker driving into our driveway, getting out of the car and taking me.’

“White Hawk relates how on a national level 25-35% of Native children were taken and placed in non-Indian homes or institutions. In Minnesota, 1 in 4 were removed. White Earth and Red Lake reservations experienced higher removals. For each lost child, there is a set of grieving parents, siblings, grandparents, aunties and uncles.

“As members of sovereign tribal governments, Native American children have a unique political status that was reaffirmed with the passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. With this Act of Congress, ‘ICWA sets federal requirements that apply to state child custody proceedings involving an Indian child who is a member of or eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe.’ Each child, by Act of Congress, should have state welfare agencies work in the best interest of the child to place the child with a family member or extended family of the tribe.

“This Act was not in place during Cash’s lifetime. While this is a book of fiction, the story of removal, heartbreak, post-traumatic-stress symptoms and generational trauma Cash exhibits are all too true. What is equally true of so many survivors of that time is Cash’s resiliency in the face of such extreme early trauma.”