|photo: Javier Romero
Anjanette Delgado is a Puerto Rican novelist, journalist and TV producer who lives in Miami, Fla., with her husband, Daniel, and her mini dachshund, Chloe. She writes about heartbreak; her first novel was The Heartbreak Pill; her second, The Clairvoyant of Calle Ocho was just published by Kensington and is also available in Spanish (from Penguin Random House) in the U.S. and Mexico. She drinks a café con leche made with almond coconut milk every morning at precisely 7:45 a.m. and travels to places just to visit independent bookstores.
On your nightstand now:
No Regrets, Coyote by John Dufresne. As my favorite independent bookseller, Mitchell Kaplan, would say, "It's a novel with a murder in it." It's fun and literary and has amaaaazing dialogue.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Books were everything when I was a child: Encyclopedia Brown books by Donald J. Sobol, Seven Days to a Brand New Me by Ellen Conford, Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume and The Borrowers by Mary Norton.
Your top five authors:
It's impossible to pick just five. (I've been trying to narrow things down for weeks.) I will pick the top five on my mind the last few weeks, and they are all women, telling women's stories: Lynne Barrett, Lydia Davis, Patricia Engel, Chinelo Okparanta and Ann Hood.
Book you've faked reading:
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. I loved the first half, and couldn't stomach the second; I stopped 100 pages away from the end, as well written as it was.
Book you're an evangelist for:
We the Animals by Justin Torres. Torres says it's a novel, but what I love about it is that it could also be called a long prose poem, a memoir or a collection of short stories, and it would work. It will break your heart and make you feel alive at the same time and you won't care about genre one bit. Also, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. It's a contemporary, hip ode to art wrapped in a beautifully unorthodox love story with an older woman at its center. And then there's Little Stalker by Jennifer Belle. This book is the best-kept secret in contemporary fiction. It's about New York, celebrity obsession and human flaws and identity, all woven together with delicious insights and the wittiest prose.
Book you've bought for the cover:
The Turkish Lover by Esmeralda Santiago. The girl on the cover spoke to me. Once I'd read it, it became my favorite Esmeralda Santiago book.
Book that changed your life:
The Stories of Eva Luna by Isabel Allende. It was the book that told me that books could see into your heart even if you'd never held them before--that authors were these people who worked at knowing you before you knew yourself. Her short story "Dos Palabras"--"Two Words"--was seared into my mind and heart, and I've never forgotten it since. Recently, I had the chance to interview her, and I completely fell in love with her. She is a force of love and knowing, a forward-moving storm of positive energy and wit. On top of it all, she's funny. Come to think of it, I really hate her.
Favorite line from a book:
"But there were times, quiet moments, when our mother was sleeping, when she hadn't slept in two days, and any noise, any stair creak, any shut door, any stifled laugh, any voice at all, might wake her, those still, crystal mornings, when we wanted to protect her, this confused goose of a woman, this stumbler, this gusher, with her backaches and headaches and her tired, tired ways, this uprooted Brooklyn creature, this tough talker, always with tears when she told us she loved us, her mixed-up love, her needy love, her warmth, those mornings, when sunlight found the cracks in our blinds and laid itself down in crisp strips on our carpet, those quiet mornings when we'd ﬁx ourselves oatmeal, and sprawl onto our stomachs with crayons and paper, with glass marbles that we were careful not to rattle...." --Justin Torres, We the Animals (emphasis mine)
Which character you most relate to:
Princess Cimorene from Patricia C. Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles (Dealing with Dragons, etc.). She informs my writing to this day. In my novels, regular women teach themselves something in order to be happy. It stems from my immigrant heart, I think. You come here [to the mainland U.S.] to pursue your destiny, to act on your dreams. What wonder to know you can do that, sometimes for the price of a $15 trade paperback. Can you imagine how lucky we all are to have that access? Cimorene did whatever needed to be done to help others, to be happy with her own life, and she loved for the sake of loving, even moving in with a dragon when it made sense. I mean, who hasn't lived with a dragon at one point or another?
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark.
Book you love even though it broke your heart:
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. The prose on that thing! It's knee-weakening to read, knowing all those beautifully arranged words, being able to create that incredible story, weren't enough to save her.