RC Davis-Undiano’s Summer Reads

There are three recent books from the University of Oklahoma Press that I know would make great summer reading. My own Mestizos Come Home! Making and Claiming Mexican American Identity deals with current social and cultural issues essential for understanding the Latino community and what they are working through during this difficult time. A. Gabriel Meléndez’s The Book of Archives and Other Stories from the Mora Valley, New Mexico is a haunting collection of stories that takes readers into a vibrant and magical community in New Mexico that they otherwise would never know about. Alfredo Véa’s The Mexican Flyboy is one of the most notable novels of the recent era, a book with the combined appeal of Roberto Bolaño, Rudolfo Anaya, and Thomas Pynchon. – RC Davis-Undiano, Executive Director


Mestizos Come Home!Robert Con Davis-Undiano

Mestizos Come Home!  Making and Claiming Mexican American Identity

This book tries to demonstrate already-existing cultural connections between the US and large patterns of historical development evident throughout Latin America. It focuses on six ways that Mexican Americans and Latinos have changed mainstream American culture since the 1960s, ultimately arguing that US mainstream culture needs to stop making Latinos the “enemy” and that Mexican Americans and Latinos need to take the final steps toward full assimilation through political involvement and greater success in education.


The Book of ArchivesA. Gabriel Meléndez

The Book of Archives and Other Stories from the Mora Valley, New Mexico

This beautiful book works with the actual history of the Mora Valley in New Mexico and weaves a large southwestern cultural fabric that many mainstream readers will know little about. Mora is a small village in which people still speak Spanish and English as two primary languages and celebrate their ties to traditional lands that house aspects of themselves, their families, and their pasts. This book’s treatment of the Book of Archives, a literal and figurative connection to tradition and the past in New Mexico, is a tour de force.


Alfredo Véa

The Mexican Flyboy

This is one of the most impressive books to appear in English in recent years. Véa’s previous three novels—La Maravilla (1993), The Silver Cloud Café (1996), and Gods Go Begging (1999)—are known to followers of high-quality experimental fiction. This new novel—about Simon Vega’s use of a time machine to wander through history to save people who died unjust, tragic deaths—will bring Véa into a new circle of importance among contemporary novelists.

Robert Con Davis-Undiano is executive director for the World Literature Today organization, overseeing all of its operations including Chinese Literature Today and Latin American Literature Today. He is Neustadt Professor in Literature and director of the Latino Studies Program at the University of Oklahoma. He also provides leadership at OU’s College of Liberal Studies and the OU Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies. He was the host of the Current Conversations TV show on OETA (public television) and KGOU (radio). His most recent book is Mestizos Come Home! Making and Claiming Mexican American Identity (Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 2017).