Susan Straight and Gustavo Arellano; Moderator: Rubén Martínez
Where do the boundaries of Los Angeles bleed towards "Greater Los Angeles?" Where and how do constructions of Southern California or the Southland or the Inland Empire or ... come to mean something or anything in terms of regional literary expression?
Gustavo Arellano is the editor of OC Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Orange County, California, author of Orange County: A Personal History and Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, and lecturer with the Chicana and Chicano Studies department at California State University, Fullerton. He writes "¡Ask a Mexican!," a nationally syndicated column in which he answers any and all questions about America's spiciest and largest minority. The column has a weekly circulation of over 2 million in 39 newspapers across the United States, won the 2006 and 2008 Association of Alternative Weeklies award for Best Column, and was published in book form by Scribner Press in May 2007. Arellano has been the subject of press coverage in national and international newspapers, The Today Show, Hannity, Nightline, Good Morning America, and The Colbert Report, and his commentaries regularly appear on Marketplace and the Los Angeles Times. Gustavo is the recipient of the Los Angeles Press Club's 2007 President's Award and an Impacto Award from the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and was recognized by the California Latino Legislative Caucus with a 2008 Spirit Award for his "exceptional vision, creativity, and work ethic." Gustavo is a lifelong resident of Orange County and is the proud son of two Mexican immigrants, one whom was illegal.
A native of Los Angeles and the son and grandson of immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador, Rubén Martínez is a writer, teacher and performer. He holds the Fletcher Jones Chair in Literature and Writing at Loyola Marymount University, and is an artist in residence at Stanford University’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts. He is the author of: Desert America: A Journey Across Our Most Divided Landscape (Metropolitan/Holt), Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail (Metropolitan/Holt), The New Americans (New Press) and The Other Side: Notes from the New L.A., Mexico City and Beyond (Vintage).
A journalist with over two decades of experience in print, broadcast and online media, he hosted and co-wrote the feature-length documentary film about the first century after contact between Europe and the New World, When Worlds Collide, shot on location throughout Latin America and Spain, for PBS. He won an Emmy Award for hosting KCET-TV’s politics and culture series, “Life & Times.”
His essays, opinions and reportage have appeared in such publications as The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Salon, Village Voice, The Nation, Spin, Sojourners, and Mother Jones. He is the recipient of a Lannan Foundation Fellowship in Non Fiction, a Loeb Fellowship from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, a Freedom of Information Award from the ACLU and a Greater Press Club of Los Angeles Award of Excellence.
As a musician, he has collaborated with Grammy-winning musicians like Quetzal and La Marisoul of La Santa Cecilia. He is the host of the VARIEDADES “performance salon” in Los Angeles, interdisciplinary shows that focus on topical themes. In 2012, he wrote, produced and hosted “The Ballad of Ricardo Flores Magón,”a theatrical and musical performance about the epic political saga of a Mexican anarchist in Los Angeles at the turn of the 20th century. The show was presented at the John Anson Ford Theatre as part of its “Live @ The Ford” series and broadcast by KCETLink.
Susan Straight has published eight novels and two books for children. Her new novel Between Heaven and Here (McSweeney’s) is the final book in the Rio Seco trilogy. Take One Candle Light a Room (Anchor Books) was named one of the best books of 2010 by The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Kirkus, and A Million Nightingales (Anchor Books) was a Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2006. Highwire Moon was a Finalist for the 2001 National Book Award. "The Golden Gopher," published in Los Angeles Noir, won the 2008 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Story. Her stories and essays have appeared in The O Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Harpers, McSweeney's, The Believer, Salon, Zoetrope, Black Clock, and elsewhere. She has been awarded The Lannan Prize for Fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Gold Medal for Fiction from the Commonwealth Club of California. She is Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at UC Riverside. She was born in Riverside, California, where she lives with her family, whose history is featured on susanstraight.com.