In this entry of P.B.U. journal, the Latino Book Review and The Lit. Bar, two valuable Latinx resources. The Latino Book Review is the only website dedicated to reviews and news on Latinx writing. The Lit. Bar is the only independent bookstore serving the 1.4 million residents of the Bronx. The Lit. Bar, like many indie bookstores, struggles to stay afloat amid the pandemic.
The Latino Book Review: Much needed and appreciated.
When my novel came out, I was appalled at how few Latinx reviewers exist in publishing. It’s difficult enough to get your book in the hands of mainstream reviewers. If your book focuses on Latinx subjects, it’s going to be even more difficult. Instead of whining about it, I decided to write reviews and contribute to expanding exposure and recognition of the many talented Latinx writers out there. That’s one of the reasons behind this blog.
So, when I came across the Latino Book Review I was overjoyed. LBB started in 2016 and has steadily introduced the reading audience to dozens of Latinx Writers. The website’s “about page” has the following: “Latino Book Review is a platform that hosts and exposes contemporary Latin American authors and literature, ranging from well established to promising emerging authors and scholars.” One can quibble about the use of “Latin American,” and that they still use the gender specific “Latino” in their title. But the quality of the content is undeniable. The website covers all genres and includes articles and interviews. If you’re a lover of Latinx lit, or literature in general, go to their website and bookmark it: https://www.latinobookreview.com/
Save The Lit. Bar!
If there’s a lack of Latinx reviewers, it’s sometimes even more difficult to find a bookstore in areas populated by people of color. Take for example, the Bronx. 70% of the people residing in the boro are of color. Half of the population are Latinx. Number of independent bookstores: 1. That bookstore is owned and run by Noelle Santos, an audacious entrepreneur who was determined to expand access to literacy and literature to Bronx residents. Scanning the shelves of the bookstore, you’ll find standard best- sellers, but you’ll also find a nutritious helping of books by Latinx and Afro American writers. I can’t imagine a better way to chill than reading a book and sipping some wine in a relaxing, inviting place. That’s The Lit. Bar.
Because of Covid-19, Santos had to temporarily close the bookstore. She’s still selling books online through her website. Santos’ commitment to weather the crisis has not gone unnoticed by the media. Charlotte Cowles covered the story in The Cut; Leigh Buchannah, Editor-in-Chief of Inc., included The Lit. Bar in his piece on how a non-profit platform, Bookshop, is helping struggling bookstores during the pandemic; and Marysol Castro interviewed Santos for a Pix11 piece. Check these out and get to know this young entrepreneur who has made history. Consider helping out the only bookstore in the Bronx. To think that a boro with 1.4 million people has only one bookstore is a tragedy in and of itself. To lose it because of the calamity that is this pandemic would be a greater one.