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Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club connects Hispanic authors across the country

Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club connects Hispanic authors across the country

Posted by Liliana Castaño on September 26, 2014

Nora de Hoyos Comstock is a Latina with a mission. As founder of Las Comadres Para Las Americas and president of Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club, she connects Hispanics across the country through literature (“Comadres” is Spanish for “godmother”). Comstock is dedicated to promoting Hispanic books and authors – and on Saturday, September 27th the 3rd Annual Comadres & Compadres Latino Writers Conference in New York City will bring together writers, authors, agents, and publishers.

“I want to help preserve and celebrate our culture, so all of it is out there,” said Hoyos. “We (Las Comadres) are preserving the beauty of our culture and also the stuff that needs to be changed, whether that’s beatings, abuse, or hard times. When Sandra Cisneros wrote about the abuse she suffered, she was one of the first Latinas to share that experience… and these are the ways we learn about our humanity,” said Comstock.

Each month, Las Comadres selects a book by a Latino author for its local chapters to read (membership is free, and there are currently 20 groups across the country). Las Comadres provides its chapters with teleconferences with authors, as well as guidance on arranging readings and fundraisers.

Comstock believes that the book industry still has much to learn about Latino consumers. “Publishers want to reach us,” she said. “They are not ignoring us on purpose, they are in business and they want money, they don’t care where it comes from. They just haven’t figured out how to access Latino readers.”

"Publishers want to reach us," said Comstock. "They are not ignoring us on purpose, they are in business and want to make money...They just haven't figured out how to access Latino readers."

It is difficult to estimate the size of the market for Latino authors and Latino-themed books. Publishing houses are secretive about sales figures (even with authors), and in-person sales do not track buyers’ ethnicity or other personal data. However, the nonprofit group Latino Literacy Now estimates that in 2012 U.S. Hispanics spent over $500 million on books.

Daisy Hernandez Author Daisy Hernandez is participating in the 2014 Comadres Writers Conference in New York City on September 27th. ROBERT CURTIS / CANTOMEDIA

Daisy Hernández, author of “A Cup of Water Under My Bed,” credits the Las Comadres Book Club with helping her complete her memoir. “I had just moved to Miami, I found myself in this new situation, and I needed friends!” she said. “I went to a Comadres meeting, and found an incredible sense of community and connection. The members also helped me with my project, giving me feedback, and encouraging me as I went through revisions," said Hernández.

At Saturday's conference in Brooklyn, Esmeralda Santiago will be the keynote speaker.

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