It’s been a chaotic day and I’m only now getting a chance to sit down (with a cold beer and the World Series) and try to get my thoughts together on the events of the day.
This morning, Publishers Weekly included Luchador on its “Best Books of 2016″ list.
It’s no small feat to be reviewed by PW. The magazine reviews about 9,000 books each year out of the reported 100,000 or so it receives as submissions. Of those, about 1,000 receive a Starred Review. The Best Books list is narrowed again, 150 books in all this year (including 50 children’s and young adult books) from biographies to children’s and young adult titles. Six books from the romance genre made the cut this year. One of them was by Nora Roberts. Nora Roberts.
One was by me.
Here’s what they had to say about Luchador:
A young gay man in Mexico City is enthralled by a cross-dressing exótico wrestler on the lucha libre circuit and begins to pursue his own wrestling career in this very modern story of love and passionate vocation. Finnegan works in rich threads of Mexican history, queer culture and community, and questions of being out or closeted in a time and place poised on the brink of acceptance.
Hardly anyone has heard of it, and fewer romance readers are likely to be quickly drawn to a book set in the world of lucha libre, so I am deeply, deeply grateful for PW’s recognition.
But I’m grateful for a lot more than that. This is a good time to say thanks to the IP team which helped get Luchador from manuscript to book. To Annie Harper, who tolerated three years worth of me questioning whether I had a book or not, and to CB Messer, who is not only a ridiculously talented art director, but a great sounding board, as well. And to the colleagues and volunteer readers who reviewed Luchador in one form or another—for story, cultural sensitivity, Spanish language use, lucha libre culture and general coherence. Thanks, one and all.
This book is a labor of love. If your knowledge of lucha is based solely on Nacho Libre, there is so, so much more to it. Luchadores are not clowns. They are athletes, performers, and in some cases, agents of social change.
I don’t know whether Luchador will find its audience. It’s not based on popular romance tropes. It’s a quirky little book and sometimes I feel solitary in my love of it. But PW just gave it a chance, and a whole lot of eyeballs. And for that, I am deeply grateful.