Lorraine López is an Assistant Professor of English in the Creative Writing Program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She won the 2003 Independent Publishers Book Award for Multicultural Fiction, awarded by the Jenkins Group, for Soy la Avon Lady and Other Stories. The same work also won the 2003 Latino Book Award for Short Stories, awarded by the Latino Literary Hall of Fame. In 2001, López was awarded the Inaugural Miguel Marmol Prize for Fiction, selected by Sandra Cisneros and awarded by Curbstone Press, for a first book-length work of fiction of a Latino/a writer. Her novel The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters was published in October of 2008.
Though a fiction writer, this year I found myself reading more memoir than fiction, and when I came across Bich Minh Nguyen’s Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, I felt as if I’d stumbled across a cache of emeralds. This moving and stunningly well-written chronicle of growing up working class and an immigrant in the midwest connected with me in a profound way. When I finished it, I immediately had my husband read it, so we could keep Nguyen’s work alive through discussing it. Another brilliant memoir that I encountered and urged others to read, just in order to have people to discuss it with, is Joy Castro’s The Truth Book, which I reread this year. Castro’s memoir describes growing up as the adopted child of a dysfunctional family of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but again, it is the sharp and lucid prose style, the sparkling writing that won me over. Both are books I will read and read again, enjoying them anew in future years.