Tag Archives: VIDA

Vida Giveaway: winner!

Ziggy the Wiener Dog reading Vida by Patricia Engel

There’s a winner of a signed copy of Vida by Patricia Engel!

Here’s the video of the drawing (sorry for the slight jostling; as usual, I was holding the camera up with my left hand and “self-taping”):

And if you don’t want to bother to watch the video and stare at me in front of my bookshelves recording myself as I pick the winner live…the winner is…

**SPOILER ALERT***

**SPOILER ALERT***

*drum roll please*

**SPOILER ALERT**

*drum roll*

*drum roll*

The commenter named sunny!
whose comment was:
“I want too! Ooh!! Cool giveaway! Immigrant story? You know, we all have LOTS of these?? Sadly? Anyway. I was super little.. 6 years old maybe? I just remember grown-ups being giants.. I came about to their waists. My mother was in a car accident, it was NOT her fault — someone rammed into HER — cops came and sided with the other person, a white woman, while my mother struggled to communicate what happened. Then my father was there, who speaks slightly better English, he kind of got into a spat with the officer, and the cop said, words I won’t ever forget, “I can’t understand her [my mother]! She’s speaking Asianese to me or whatever it is she’s speaking! Tell her to speak English for chrissakes, it’s America.” Ultimately we had to go to court for the whole incident and I recall the trouble my parents had communicating to their own lawyer. That was when I decided I wanted to become a lawyer someday, to be able to advocate for people like my mom and dad.”

*cymbal clash!*

Congratulations to Sunny–and thank you for supporting Patricia Engel’s book. I hope all of you who wanted a copy and didn’t win, still manage to find yourselves a copy soon.

Methodology:
I assigned each of you a number, in the order of comments, and used a random number generator to pick a number between 1 and 17, as there were 17 entries. The generated number was matched with the assigned number of the contest entrants.

Trivia:
The winning number was 7.

IMG_2919

The wiener dogs reading Vida are Scarlet the Wiener Dog and Ziggy the Wiener Dog. I rescued both of them at separate times many years ago and they are now 18 and 14 years old, respectively. (And I wrote a blog post about them as part of my Alphabet History project).

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Vida giveaway!

Scarlet the Wiener Dog reading Vida by Patricia Engel

My friend Patricia Engel’s book Vida is up next for a giveaway. Vida, Patty’s debut story collection, came out in 2010 to countless (really, I lost count) rave reviews, including one from the ever discriminating Michiko Kakutani of the NY Times, who said, “What makes Sabina’s coming-of-age story so compelling is the arresting voice Ms. Engel has fashioned for her: a voice that’s immediate, unsentimental and disarmingly direct.” I of course second that review…and all the others.

I am so very proud of her–and she should be proud of this amazing story collection. I audibly squeaked when I discovered Vida was included in the NY Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2010 list. I remember when Patty workshopped one of the stories in its infancy at VONA–that I could witness the growth of her work has been an amazing privilege. Her writing is spectacular.

So in all the hubbub, between all the ecstatic blackberry message exchanges and emails, it never dawned on me to do a giveaway. Horrors! But it’s better late than never. And it’s better late than never for all of you to read Patricia Engel’s Vida.

Opening lines:

“It was the year my uncle got arrested for killing his wife, and our family was the subject of all the town gossip. My dad and uncle were business partners, so my parents were practically on trial themselves, which meant that most of the parents didn’t want their kids to hang around me anymore, and I lost the few friends I had.

We were foreigners, spics, in a town of blancos. I don’t know how we ended up there. There’s tons of Latinos in New Jersey, but somehow we ended up in the one town that only kept them as maids. All the kids called me brownie on account of my permanent tan, or Indian because all the Indians they saw on TV were dark like me. I thought the gringos were all pink, not white, but I never said so. I was a quiet kid. Lonely, and a hell of a lot lonelier once my family became the featured topic on the nightly news.”

Whet your appetite?

So let’s get to the heart of the matter: the giveaway!

I’m giving away a signed copy of Patricia Engel’s short story collection. You can see a copy of the book in the photos of my “wiener dogs reading books” (Scarlet is above, and Ziggy is at bottom). The collection debuted in soft copy, as you see here, and it is signed by the author.

Here’s how to enter:
1) Leave a comment below. You can say anything you want–e.g., you can choose to tell me why you want a copy of the book, or tell me about an immigrant experience (or an experience in which you were a minority, not necessarily having to do with being a person of color), or a coming of age moment, or simply say you just rrrreally want a copy of the book. Do fill out your email address when you fill out the fields in the comment box (it won’t be published to the world, but I will need it in order to contact you in case you win)!
2) 1 entry per person
3) The giveaway is open worldwide.
4) If you win the contest, I will email you for your mailing address.
5) Winners will be chosen by a random number generator.
6) I will be announcing the contest winner on the blog. None of your personal information will be posted, aside from your first name and last initial (or the nickname you choose to list in your comment). If you see that someone else has entered the same name as you, please try to pick a different nickname to call yourself, just for sanity.
7) If you are below the age of 13, please ask your parents to fill out the comment field with their information.

The deadline to enter a comment is Wednesday August 10, 2011 1:00pm PST. The winner (picked at random) will be announced August 10, 2011 by 9:00pm PST.

Update: The winner is announced!
Ziggy the Wiener Dog reading Vida by Patricia Engel

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We Count

sidewalk graffiti, Greenwich Village

VIDA* recently released its statistics on published work along gender lines in major literary magazines. If you haven’t heard by now, the results revealed that men dominate. By a mile. Consistently. Across all magazines. What ensued is a wave of dialogue about the disparities, one that VIDA* begins by saying:

“But as these facts come to light–no longer imagined or guessed at–so does the truth of publishing disparities, the unfortunate footing from which we can begin to change the face of publishing. We are no longer guessing if the world is flat or round; we are wondering how to get from point A to B now that the rules of navigation are public and much clearer. Questions long denied will lead us to new awareness, to challenge current publishing practices, and to query the merits of selection on the level of individual publications and review journals alike.”

The Southern Review’s Jeanne Leiby did a count of the litmag’s past publications (as well as its submissions). The count revealed a slight favor towards male writers…and the submissions reveal the same. The result? More questions than answers from Leiby:

“I’m pleased with these numbers, but I still have more questions than I have answers. I want to know why there isn’t parity in the slush pile. Are there simply more men writing? Or are there more men submitting? I’m seeking a way to see the larger landscape, the whole industry, the biggest picture possible to give context to what we’ve discovered. What are the percentages of women and men in undergraduate and graduate creative writing programs? Is there a break occurring someplace in the chain? What is the ratio of male to female literary agents? What is the ratio of female to male editors? Publishers? Does the gender of the editor or publisher have a direct correlation to the work she publishes? Some of these statistics shouldn’t be too hard to come by, and gathering the numbers is an important first step. VIDA has shown us that there is a problem. Now what can we do to fix it?”

Brevity also jumped into the discussion, with a concerned, but brief post about their most recent issue, raising again, more questions than answers to the issue of gender disparity.

And Kartika Review, the litmag for which I was Fiction Editor, did a quick count of all of our past issues: 49% of the published literary work was by male writers, and 51% of the work by female writers. We didn’t do a count of the submissions–we haven’t been tracking gender. Did we favor women? Or is this a reflection of our slushpile? Do Asian Pacific American women (for our litmag is an APA-focused litmag) submit more often? But then again, the slush pile isn’t all writing from Asian Pacific Americans–we’ve published a number of works written by non-Asian Americans, Kelly Luce and Jill Widner included.

As a litmag editor, I didn’t let gender or ethnicity sway my decisions–but I was still very conscious of each issue’s selections. Was there a balance between gender? I tried very hard to achieve that–sometimes going so far as to reach back into the slushpile to select an additional piece (but not replacing pieces) to do so. Was there equal representation between all the regions of the Asian diaspora? Though impossible to represent every region of Asia (Southeast Asian, South Asia, West Asia, East Asia….), I was conscious of representation throughout my tenure as Fiction Editor.

As Fiction Editor, I was also conscious of my position as a gatekeeper–a bouncer, if you may. We at Kartika Review are humble enough to fully admit that we’re not the “hot club” on the street–we’re the small, neighborhood dance club off the beaten path. The line outside our door may not be as long as those of other litmags. But–I was still a doorman/bouncer.

And I felt, many times, like the bouncer in “Knocked Up,” played with apologetic brillance by Craig Robinson, admitting the entrance system is unfair, “It’s not cause you’re not hot, I would love to tap that ass. I would tear that ass up. I can’t let you in cause you’re old as fuck. For this club, you know, not for the earth.”

Sometimes, I swear, I wish I could include that quote in my rejection letters from Kartika, which I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaated dreaded sending out. As a fellow writer, I felt like each rejection letter was a sucker punch sent out into the universe.

Editors and agents are gatekeepers. We have responsibilities to art (we have to pick the very best), and we also have social responsibilities (we have to be conscious of what our selections represent).

What few people, if any, are bringing up around the VIDA* count is that publishing does not only have gender disparity issues–I feel there are issues around race, too. (Yes, I’m going there). The awesome, always-keeping-it-real-who-can-now-add-Pulitzer-Prize-Winning-to-his-descriptors Junot Díaz, alluded to this issue of representation at AWP. In my friend Elizabeth Browne‘s AWP summary she admitted, “I giggled uncomfortably when Junot Diaz told us how white we were (‘there’s Boston white, and then there’s AWP white’).”

I love that VIDA* has opened the door to a dialogue that needs to begin in earnest. I love that VIDA* has opened the door wider to consciousness about gender disparity in publishing. That we have questions to answer. Important questions to answer. Because these questions might, and hopefully, lead to self-examination and revision of our processes. Because these questions will wake a publishing conscience.

But I think we must also apply these questions about equality to categories beyond gender. I am going to take the liberty of taking Jeanne Leiby’s thoughtful questions and add color:

“Are there people of color writing? Are writers of white European descent submitting more than people of color? What are the percentages of people of color and whites in undergraduate and graduate creative writing programs? Is there a break occurring someplace in the chain? What is the ratio of literary agents who are white to literary agents who are of color? What is the ratio of editors who are of color to editors who are white? Publishers? Does the ethnicity of the editor or publisher have a direct correlation to the work she publishes? If there is a problem…what can we do to fix it?”

I quailed before posting this–because I’m no activist in the realm of activists. But this is also an excellent opportunity to broaden the discussion. This is an excellent opportunity to DO something, even as my friend Margaret La Fleur uses these numbers to address HR3 (the “no taxpayer funding for abortion act,” not even for rape victims, not even when the mother’s life is at stake).

We all count.

*Vida is also the name of my friend Patricia Engel’s awesome, unblinking, critically acclaimed (by the NY Times, even) story collection, one you should buy and read.

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Filed under Fiction Editor, literary magazines, Literary Rejections, Publishing, Writing