Críticas Comeback

Críticas is Back: Library Journal and School Library Journal Resume Reviews of the Latest Spanish-Language Books

You can see the adult book reviews here

A few picks for you:

El viaje del elefante
(The Elephant’s Journey)
Saramago, Jose.
tr. by Pilar del Rio

Nobel laureate Saramago was inspired to write this novel while dining at a Salzburg restaurant called The Elephant and learning that in the mid-16th century, John III, king of Portugal, made a present to the Archduke Maximilian of Austria, who was visiting in neighboring Spain. The choice of his gift, an elephant, was novel as well as risky, but the memory of this tale lives on.

Saramago takes poetic license to describe the journey made by the elephant, Salomon, from Lisbon to Vienna with his Bengali keeper, Subhro. When the Archduke Maximilian rechristens them as Soliman and Fritz, the elephant keeper shows himself to be more sagacious than the capricious archduke. The elephant is ultimately the major character of this tale and has a personality and style totally his own, gaining the admiration, love, and awe of those who come into contact with him.

The elephant’s great dignity and perspicacity are totally credible, making him a far wiser judge of character than the archduke himself. Light, fanciful, and wise, this is one of the most delightful of Saramago’s books. Highly recommended for all libraries. —Catherine Rendón, Savannah, GA


Vive tu vida al rojo vivo.
(Make Your Life Prime Time)
Arrarás, María Celeste.

One of Spanish-language television’s most popular news personalities, Arrarás built a solid reputation as an award-winning journalist before signing on to host Univsion’s Primer Impacto. In 2002, she made headlines when she jumped ship to sign with the competing Telemundo/NBC partnership. She is now host and managing editor of the popular news show Al rojo vivo and in 2008 became the first Telemundo star to cohost the NBC Today show.

Her first book, Selena’s Secret, on the life and death of Tejano music singer Selena, generated some controversy when Selena’s father disputed her conclusions. Here, in a warm and engaging work that offers insight into her upbeat approach to life, Arrarás offers brief chapters each relating a personal experience that illustrates a value or principle she hopes will guide her children.

Along the way, she shares the intimate details and challenges of her personal and professional lives—her reaction to her husband’s infidelity, her shock at discovering the abuse of her son by a trusted nanny, her disappointment at being defrauded by her personal assistant. This quick read will delight and inspire many fans. Highly recommended for all public libraries and general bookstores.

—Yolanda J. Cuesta, Cuesta MultiCultural Consulting, Sacramento, CA

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