Three Arte Público Titles Named 2023 Southwest Books of the Year

HOUSTON, TX—The Pima County Public Library and the Friends of the Pima County Public Library in Arizona have named three Arte Público Press titles to their Southwest Books of the Year: Best Reading 2023 list. The eight-person review panel recognized Jimmy Santiago Baca’s No Enemies: Poems in the Poetry category and Raulito: The First Latino Governor of Arizona / El primer gobernador latino de Arizona by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford in the Children’s/Young Adult category. Diana J. Noble’s Chances in Disguise was also selected for the Children’s/Young Adult category and was named a Top Pick by the review panel.

In No Enemies: Poems, Jimmy Santiago Baca writes urgently about the most important themes of our generation, including education, justice, the environment and even the coronavirus. While many of his poems are stinging rebukes against the wealthy and powerful and their disregard for children living in poverty and for the environment, others are beautiful odes to his indigenous roots, and express the sense of responsibility Baca feels to use his gift for the greater good: “If not me, then who / speaks to money, power, privilege / if not / an ordinary man / then who?” In a review of Baca’s When I Walk Through That Door, I Am(Beacon Press, 2019) for The San Francisco Chronicle, Gary Soto said, “What makes [Baca’s poetry] a success is its honesty, a brutal honesty, as well as his original imagery and the passion of his writing.”

A bilingual biography for intermediate readers, Raulito: The First Latino Governor of Arizona / El primer gobernador latino de Arizona recounts the life story of Raúl H. Castro, one of eleven children born in Mexico and fondly called Raulito. His family moved to Pirtleville, Arizona when Raulito was two years old. Despite hardships including racism and poverty, Raulito grew up to be a teacher, attorney, judge and diplomat; he was elected the first Mexican American governor of Arizona in 1974. This story will open young readers’ eyes to the obstacles Mexican Americans faced in obtaining basic rights such as access to education and will inspire them to persevere in spite of difficulties. “Governor Castro’s story is inspiring and powerful and one that will resonate with all young people who dream of making a difference,” said Janet Napolitano, former governor of Arizona and director of US Department of Homeland Security.

In Diana J. Noble’s Chances in Disguise, the sequel to Evangelina Takes Flight (Arte Público Press, 2017), 17-year-old Evangelina works as a midwife but is called a “dirty Mexican” and kicked out by a doctor when she tries to help an Anglo woman in labor. When the woman dies, Evangelina is accused of witchcraft and arrested, and must stand trial for murder. Set in Texas in 1915, this young adult novel reveals the racial inequity in the justice system, the discrimination Mexicans and other non-whites experienced and the limitations placed on women in the early 20th century. Kirkus Reviews said, “Though fictionalized, the novel is grounded in true historical events which saw Mexican refugees and American-born Tejanos facing sham trials, vigilantes, and violent policing without due process. This novel presents a story that is as relevant to and important for contemporary readers as it was in the early 20th century.”

Arte Público Press is the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by US Hispanic authors. Its imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, is dedicated to the authentic portrayal of the themes, languages, characters and customs of Hispanic culture in the United States. Books published under the imprint serve as a bridge from home to school to support family literacy and elementary school education. Based at the University of Houston, Arte Público Press, Piñata Books and the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage project provide the most widely recognized and extensive showcase for Latino literary arts and creativity.  For more information, please visit

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