an imprint of counterpoint

Mr. Spic Goes to Washington

Mr. Spic Goes to Washington by Ilan StavansMr. Spic Goes to Washington

Ilan Stavans, Illustrated by Roberto Weil

In the face of social inequalities, sometimes strength for mobilization can be found through laughter. It is this ethos that Ilan Stavans employs in this politically minded graphic novel. Weaving humor with social commentary, Stavans tells a tale of a Latino man taking Los Angeles’ mayoral office by storm — and refusing to stop there. Illustrated throughout by Roberto Weil, the story follows the life and political development of Mr. Spic — Samuel Patricio Inocencio Cárdenas — as he upends the political machine by owning up to and embracing his rough-and-tumble past, refusing to bend to corporate pressures, and using his influence to promote pacifism and tolerance. Progressive politics has always moved forward with the help of dedicated, singular individuals, and Mr. Spic — light-hearted as his story may be — hilariously exemplifies that model.

Ilan Stavans was born in Mexico to a Jewish family from the Pale of Settlement, lived in Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East, and ultimately immigrated to the United States in 1985. Upon completing his graduate education in New York City, he settled in New England where he lives with his wife, Alison, and his two sons, Joshua and Isaiah. His journey is the topic of his autobiography On Borrowed Words: A Memoir of Language (2001). He received a Master’s degree from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a Doctorate in Letters from Columbia University. He was the host of the syndicated PBS show Conversations with Ilan Stavans, which ran from 2001 to 2006.

He is best known for his investigations on language and culture. His love for lexicography is evident in Dictionary Days: A Defining Passion (2005).

Stavans’s work is wide-ranging, and includes both scholarly monographs such as The Hispanic Condition (1995) and comic strips in the case of Latino USA: A Cartoon History (with Lalo Alcaraz) (2000). Stavans is editor of several anthologies including The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories (1998). A selection of his work appeared in 2000 under the title The Essential Ilan Stavans. In 2004, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Pablo Neruda’s birth, Stavans edited the 1,000-page-long The Poetry of Pablo Neruda. The same year he edited the 3-volume set of Isaac Bashevis Singer: Collected Stories for the Library of America.

He has also displayed a strong interest in popular culture. Among other topics, he has written influential essays on the Mexican comedian, Mario Moreno (“Cantinflas”),” the lampooner José Guadalupe Posada, the Chicano leader César Chávez, and the Tejana singer Selena, as well as a book about the board game Lotería! (with Teresa Villegas), which includes Stavans’s own poems. He was also featured in one of the Smithsonian Q&A books.

Since 1993 he has been on the faculty at Amherst College, Massachusetts, where he is the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture. He has also taught a various other institutions, including Columbia University. In 1997, Stavans was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and has been the recipient of international prizes and honors, including the Latino Literature Prize, Chile’s Presidential Medal, and the Rubén Darío Distinction.

Paper | 7 x 9 | 128 pgs. | ISBN: 978-1-59376-198-1 | List: $15.95 | 06/30/2008

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