Friday, November 24, 2017
Books

What’s Melanie Diaz reading?

RECOMMENDED READING


Nightstand

Melanie Diaz

Diaz, 22, is one of 85 students whose writing was selected for Challenges to the Dream: The Best of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Writing Awards, an October release from Carnegie Mellon University Press. Since 1999, the university has held the writing award program, assigning students the task to write "honestly and creatively about race.’’ Diaz’s winning essay was "Being Mexican-American Post Election.’’

Diaz is a new graduate of Carnegie-Mellon and hails from East Los Angeles. Currently, she is a Fulbright Scholar teaching in Spain. We recently caught up with her via Skype from her apartment in Calahorra.

What’s on your nightstand?

It’s a book I meant to read before I got to Spain, Ghosts of Spain: Travels Through Spain and Its Secret Past by Giles Tremlett. It’s about Spain’s civil war and what has happened since. It’s a bit difficult. It has helped me understand both history as well as what’s going on now.

Is it one of those books you think about as you move through your day in Spain?

It definitely makes me think about political issues. A lot of Spaniards are talking about what’s going on in Catalonia, and since I am from far away, I needed more understanding. One interesting thing is I’ve realized the people here are still not over that war. I don’t think they are healed, and it’s reminiscent of what we see in the U.S., with all that’s going on with racial issues. We are not completely healed from ours either.

Let’s be in a fantasy world for a minute. If there were no required guidelines to follow as an English teacher, what book would you have your students read?

Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. His style and the way he uses language pulls you in.

English is not always necessarily beautiful, but Diaz’s words are. I love how he looks at the parts of the Latin identity. He takes apart the idea of the traditional, stereotypical Latin man, and I love artists that speak from a place that is raw.

Concerning your essay and unrest between different races, what book would you recommend for people to become more empathetic?

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. He is telling his son about his life and experience in America, and he writes on race in America. Of course, I came from a Mexican-American community, and his experience, the black experience, isn’t mine, but his words are (universal). I’d encourage reading authors writing about their own communities. When that voice is from that community it is more vulnerable, and (the reader) understands more about that place and the people there that way, so empathy can come from that.

Contact Piper Castillo at pcastillo@tampabay.com.
Follow @Florida_PBJC.

Comments
When to watch ‘Rudolph,’ ‘The Polar Express,’ ‘A Christmas Story Live’ and more holiday specials

When to watch ‘Rudolph,’ ‘The Polar Express,’ ‘A Christmas Story Live’ and more holiday specials

'Tis the season for a TV schedule packed with holiday specials and Christmas classics.We've already been seeing Christmas movies and commercials since early November, but the days following Thanksgiving are when all the networks kick into high gear.F...
Published: 11/22/17
How ‘A Christmas Carol’ was born

How ‘A Christmas Carol’ was born

Charles Dickens’ best-known and most beloved book almost didn’t happen. In 1843, Dickens, then 31, was already dealing with the downside of international success. He had followed bestsellers like Oliver Twist with several flops and was s...
Published: 11/22/17
What to watch this week: ‘Marvel’s Runaways,’ ‘Godless,’ Thanksgiving specials

What to watch this week: ‘Marvel’s Runaways,’ ‘Godless,’ Thanksgiving specials

MondayDavid Letterman: The Mark Twain Prize, 9 p.m., PBS: A special celebrating the work of Late Night and The Late Show host David Letterman.SERIES PREMIERE: Big Hero 6 the Series, 8 p.m., Disney Channel: The new animated series takes place after th...
Published: 11/20/17
Video: Forget Pizza Rat. Meet St. Petersburg’s Pizza Squirrel

Video: Forget Pizza Rat. Meet St. Petersburg’s Pizza Squirrel

New York, it seems, doesn't have a monopoly on pizza-chomping rodents.Around 2:45 p.m. Friday, the Tampa Bay Times spotted a squirrel digging a nearly entire slice of pizza out of a trash can at 146 Second St. N in St. Petersburg. The squirrel hoppe...
Published: 11/17/17
Here are this week’s pop culture winners and losers

Here are this week’s pop culture winners and losers

WINNERS:Taylor SwiftFollowing the death of his mother, Gloria, The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon shared a touching story with the audience about his mom squeezing his hand three times and saying "I love you," when he was a kid. "Last week, I was in ...
Published: 11/17/17
Review: ‘Marvel’s Runaways’ pits rebellious teens against their evil parents

Review: ‘Marvel’s Runaways’ pits rebellious teens against their evil parents

The parents in Runaways really are the worst.Hulu's new Marvel series follows a ragtag group of teenagers who have to band together to defeat their own parents, who are collective members of a secret criminal organization called the Pride.In the wake...
Published: 11/17/17
What to watch this weekend: ‘The Punisher,’ ‘Search Party,’ Elizabeth Smart Lifetime movie

What to watch this weekend: ‘The Punisher,’ ‘Search Party,’ Elizabeth Smart Lifetime movie

GRIEF AND GUNS: THE PUNISHERMarvel fans first saw Marine veteran Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) in Netflix's Daredevil series. The brutish anti-hero finally gets his own series with The Punisher, exploring what he did after helping Daredevil (Charlie Co...
Published: 11/17/17
Review: George Saunders’ ‘Sea Oak’ makes a dead-funny TV comedy

Review: George Saunders’ ‘Sea Oak’ makes a dead-funny TV comedy

Recently, George Saunders won the Man Booker Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards.And now he has a TV show about zombies!Saunders, one of America’s best writers of fiction, won the 2017 Booker for his splendid novel Lincoln in t...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/22/17
Jesmyn Ward wins National Book Award for ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’

Jesmyn Ward wins National Book Award for ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’

Jesmyn Ward is having a good year.At a glamorous ceremony Wednesday night in New York, Ward was named the winner of the 2017 National Book Award for Sing, Unburied, Sing, about a Mississippi family's epic road trip. The book is Ward's third novel ...
Published: 11/16/17

Events: Tampa historians to sign books at hurricane relief benefit

Book TalkNancy Christie (Rut-Busting Book for Writers) will sign her book at 11 a.m. Nov. 20 at 321 Books, 6901 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg.John Cinchett (Vintage Tampa Storefronts and Scenes), Rex Gordon (History of Hillsborough High School), Linda ...
Published: 11/16/17