Latina screenwriter, political activist and now first-time novelist Josefina López is the next author at Eduardo Santiago’s fourth-annual Idyllwild Author Series. She will discuss her novel, “Hungry Woman in Paris,” (Grand Central Publishing 2009) a taste and touch exploration of Paris’ sensual confections by a Latina from Los Angeles — hungry to grow, feel and discover.
Canela, López’s central character, is a journalist and activist who lives life with passion but finds it has dried up in her home environs. So to Paris she went, seeking solace and substance, using a ticket meant for a honeymoon that did not happen and grieving over the death of her cousin and confidante, Canela enrolls in a prestigious cooking school but widens the venue to sample sauces, broths and purees, not just in the Cordon Bleu kitchen but from all of Parisian life. She finds that haute cuisine, with its richness and extravagance, begins to reawaken her spiritual and sensual self. Of Canela and her journey, López said, “I wanted to present a delicious female fantasy that would excite Latinas and create a forum for discussion about female sexuality.”
López, best known for authoring the play and coauthoring the Sundance award winning film, “Real Women Have Curves,” is a woman with hands and heart in many areas — teaching, creative writing, film making, journalism and speaking out on issues important to Latinas at major universities in the United States. She is the recipient of many honors, including those from the city of Los Angeles, the state of California, the California Arts Council, an artist-in-residency grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a 2014 Hispanic Lifestyle Women of Influence Award.
When asked about her varied background and what most arouses and feeds her passion, López answered, “Justice. I would say that fighting for justice and truth are the two things that keep me going — shattering the myths about the Latino community and the negative representation [of that community] are what drives me to fight for justice and truth.
About Paris, where she and her husband have spent considerable time and the locus for her novel, López demurred. “I’m in Nice now,” she said, “and it’s such a contrast with the jaded attitude of Parisians. It’s such a contrast to be among friendly people.”
Of her character’s experience of Paris, she said, “My character deals with discrimination on top of the ugliness from some Parisians because she looks like an Arab. It made her appreciate how the U.S. is more tolerant.”
Of why she writes, she said, “I am committed to writing about real women who have the right to be flawed and fat and imperfect and courageous and all the qualities God endowed us with to make us fully human.”
As readers might be able to tell from López’s words, she is a strong and forthright woman whose honesty and directness should be an invigorating tonic to any attendee at the Author Series. Of her aspirations, she wrote, “I, too, have a dream that one day women will be judged by the content of their character, their creative and intellectual contributions to society, rather than by the color of their hair, the size of their waist or the perkiness of their breasts.”
Santiago interviews López at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 13, on the deck of Cafe Aroma. There is no charge for the event.