The Arts

Once Upon a A Quinceañera, by Monica Gomez-Hira

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Once Upon A Quinceañera’ Has Fairy Tale Charm

Once Upon a Quinceañera opens in Miami, the summer after Carmen Aguilar’s senior year. Due to an incomplete internship credit, Carmen has yet to graduate high school. So she’s working for an event company called Dreams Come True, where she dresses up as a singing, dancing Disney Princess for birthday parties. She’s at one of these parties (dressed as Belle) with her best friend Waverly (dressed as Cinderella), when a Beast shows up who is not Carmen’s usual partner.

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The Committed, by Viet Thanh Nguyen

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Committed’ Remains Uncommitted — And That’s Its Strength

With smoke-and-mirrors panache, The Committed — Viet Thanh Nguyen’s sequel to The Sympathizer — continues the travails of our Eurasian Ulysses, now relocated to France and self-identified as Vo Danh (which literally means “Nameless”). Having survived a communist reeducation camp, a perilous sea crossing, and a long sojourn in an Indonesian refugee center, he arrives in Paris on July 18, 1981 — the birthday of Nelson Mandela — to become, once again, a refugee.

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Jacob (Steven Yeun) moves his family from California to farm in rural Arkansas in Minari. A24

‘Minari’ Follows A Family’s Immigration With Humor, Humanity And Hope

The travails of immigrant life take a quietly beguiling form in Minari, a semi-autobiographical film by Lee Isaac Chung that brims with humor, humanity and hope. Showing us characters new to American screens, the story centers on a South Korean family named Yi who hope to make a go of farming in rural Arkansas during the Reagan years. Minari takes its title from the name of a spicy Asian plant that’s known for its hardiness and ability to grow seemingly anywhere. The question is, will the same prove true of the Yi family?

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Nubia: Real One book cover

BOOK REVIEW: In ‘Nubia: Real One,’ Trying To Be A Hero When Society Thinks You’re A Threat

Nubia: Real One doesn’t take place on Wonder Woman’s home island Themyscira, but somewhere in modern-day America — though a modern-day America in which superheroes are a real thing. And Nubia is not an adult woman warrior who knows who and what she is (as she did when she first appeared in 1973’s Wonder Woman Vol. 1 #204), no. This is McKinney’s take on Nubia for real.

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Dated between 1905 and 1915, this photo shows Nannie Helen Burroughs holding a banner that reads, “Banner State Woman’s National Baptist Convention.” Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

Black Women Were Vital To The Black Church. Their Stories Are Explored In New PBS Program

In his latest documentary series and book, “The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song,” Gates examines the cultural institution within Black communities. He explains how the Black Church has played such a vital role in Black liberation, since its beginnings. And along with viewing the Black church through a critical eye and exploring its origin, the new PBS series also pays tribute to the often overlooked work of Black women for the Black church.

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Karyn Meek backstage

Where Are They Now? We Check In With Broadway Workers, Now Off Broadway Nearly A Year

Every year, as a set-up for the Tony Awards, we take you backstage to meet people who aren’t even eligible. These are Broadway’s essential workers – ushers, stage managers, costumers. But this year, the Tonys seem like a faraway dream; even though nominations for the shortened season were announced in October, no date has been set. So, I decided to check in with some of those essential workers I’ve interviewed before, to find out how they’ve been coping since theaters closed.

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It's a Sin follows a cast of characters (Omari Douglas, Lydia West, David Carlyle, Callum Scott Howells and Nathaniel Curtis) in London as they deal with the emergence of the AIDS epidemic. CREDIT: Ben Blackall/HBO Max

TV REVIEW: ‘It’s A Sin’ Series, Set During AIDS Epidemic, Resonates During COVID-19

The emergence of AIDS provides the impetus for It’s a Sin, a hit British series about five young people who share a London apartment over the years from 1981 to ’91. The show is the semi-autobiographical brainchild of Russell T. Davies, a writer best known for creating Queer as Folk and resurrecting Doctor Who. With his gimlet eye for the pop jugular, Davies turns the story of that deadly pandemic into a soapy drama that, like many dance songs from that era, is equal parts bounciness and woe.

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