"Chicano writers from El Paso are the most progressive, open-minded, far-reaching, and inclusive writers of them all."

Octavio Romano

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Moon by Rafael Jesús González

Christmas Moon
Christmas eve in the desert is full of recently polished stars
but none shines so brightly as the full moon that caresses the
back of the mountain stretched like a lizard asleep. On its
side, the mountain wears its own star of electric lights like
the jewel of some Masonic order. This border where the tips
of the tails of the Sierra Madre to the south and the Rocky
Mountains to the north almost meet is called El Paso del
Norte (Pass of the North) through which for centuries have
filtered merchants of the Mexica empire, Spanish conquis-
tadores roasting in their helmets and breastplates of steel,
gringo adventurers, and refugees from dictatorships and
hunger. It has been the door and port of pilgrims, of the poor
in search of lodging, of shelter, of refuge, of work.

On Christmas eve in other times the posadas came to their
close in time for midnight mass at the cathedral. The holy
pilgrims have arrived and the child of light is born. Halle-
luiah, halleluiah, halleluiah – and peace on Earth.

But it is not only on this night that the Río Grande and the
mountain, the moon and the stars see José (and Pedro and
Pablo and Juan) and María (and Chayo and Rosa and Car-
men) come, and see born, in a stable or not, Jesús (and Lupe,
Arturo and Susana, Francisco and Cecilia) all children of
light. But even so, there is no peace on Earth.

For these nights, since I was a child, in San Jacinto (or Al-
ligator) Plaza has been decorated a giant Christmas tree full
of lights (and, to my childishness, marvels) with a star lit at
its tip. Above, the stars of the heavens are very far away and,
though enormous beyond imagining, appear very small to
the sight. Shepherds or not, no one expects the angels to sing
to us, and were we wise we would content ourselves with our
humble moon, mirror of our own star the holy Sun, awesome
enough though small as stars go, and we would realize that
peace on Earth will not come to us from the heavens but
from ourselves, all made from the dust of stars.

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Rafael Jesús González
           -- Rafael Jesús González, 
(c) Rafael Jesús González

See the author of this poem read at Fronterizos in Exile: A Reading of Border Writers and Expatriates, Wednesday, Dec. 29, at the Loftlight Studio, 315 El Paso Street in Downtown El Paso (near El Paso Street and Overland).

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Some Videos, Poems, and Links, for Christmas' Eve and Lalo Guerrero's "Pancho Claus"


In trying to think of some Christmas-themed literature, I dind't find a lot of Chicano stuff, not because there isn't any; I was just to lazy to go though my entire library. So I through I'd go across the board in literature.

From Verse to Music

Below are some Christmas links for you. Some are religious in nature, but it's nice to see when poems evolve into much bigger things. Maybe a Chicano(a) poem someday. I know one of Trinidad Sanchez, Jr.'s poems was turned into a song and sung by the Grammy award-winning Chanticleer.

My main point in all the stuff I post is that we are yet to see a Chicano(a) children's book animated, and for you to pay attention to these poems I list below. If people bothered to set them to music -- they transverses the page.

Now, I know J. Michael Martinez and Carlos Morton ("Esperanza") has both written librettos. I need to look where Martinez' went. Octavio Solis either has written one, or is writing one. Oh, before I forget, remember Solis' play "La Posada Magica" which I hear now is being turned into a musical or has already.

Nevertheless, I think is really neat that one of the worlds top choral groups would perform a poem set to music by Trinidad Sanchez, Jr. Kudos a mi carnal Trini. Maybe your poem is next?

I Dream a World

I heard a Christmas concert the other night and they sang "I Dream a World" by Langston Hughes. Below is a MLK video with a chorus singing "I Dream a World":

I Dream a World
by Langston Hughes

I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn.
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom's way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind--
Of such I dream, my world!

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, edited by Arnold Rampersad (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994), p. 311.

Dylan Thomas Christmas

Of course there's the classic "A Child's Christmas in Wales" by Dylan Thomas:

"One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six." READ MORE.

Raymond Briggs' classic Childrens book

The Snowman and its animated short are much more famous in England than in the US. Watching the animated short is a holiday tradition over there (at least so I read) and the merchandising of the snowman character is a big thing. Seeing the video below you can see why it is a classic. The music is by Howard Blake. Based on Raymond Briggs 1978 classic childrens book, this book has no words, its all in pictures. The animator, Dianne Jackson, is the same who did Granpa based on the book by John Burningham (wait unitl after the holidays to see this one). Also, if you like "The Snowman" check out Raymond Brigg's "Father Christmas."

The animated version of "The Snowman" has the song "I'm Walking in the Air" (Blake) which became very famous. I've posted Part 1 of "The Snowman" and I'd encourage you to sit through it and see parts 2 and 3.:

If anything, at least see the "Walking in the Air" scene:

Two Poems by Rossetti

Here are two of Christina Rossetti's poems that have become classic Christmas Carols, that is once set to music:


Christina Rossetti (1872)
clr gif
In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

Love Came Down at Christmas
Christina Rossetti
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.
Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?
Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and to all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

Here's one by Thomas Hardy

The Oxen
by Thomas Hardy

CHRISTMAS Eve, and twelve of the clock.
‘Now they are all on their knees,’
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.
We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.
So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
‘Come; see the oxen kneel
‘In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,’
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

Carols and Poets

There are other lesser-known carols that have involved poets. Among them is "Bethlehem Down" (see it performed) by Bruce Blunt put to music by Peter Warlock. Warlock infamous for his alleged involvement in the occult and use of the pseudonym "Warlock." See "Bethlehem Down's verse by Blunt: Bethlehem Down.

Worst Poet in England

"Wither's Rocking Hymn" (see it performed) was put to music by Ralph Vaughn Williams. George Wither who lived during the English Civil War, and who changed sides quite often. There is a famous incident when Withers leading cavalry for the Parliament, was captured by Royalist forces and faced execution. According to the New Oxford Book of Carols, "...he was spared execution only through the intercession of the Royalist poet Sir John Denham, who pleaded that so long as Wither lived, he (Denham) would not be accounted the worst poet in England."

There are also some poetry that we don't know the authorship. One is "Adam lay ybouden" (hear it performed by the Medieval Babes) which has been set to music by Boris Ord, Warlock, among others (see the verse). There's a bunch of holiday stuff by Wordsworth, Blake, and others set to music, especially by 20th century English composers such as Britten, Vaughn Williams, Holst, and Walton.

The Blue Carbuncle

Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Blue Carbuncle" is a good Christmas mystery story (Sherlock Holmes) that's not cheesy. The one I post below has the unforgettable Jeremy Brent. Here's part 1, you can catch parts 2 and so forth on youtube.com:

Last, I caught this Scottish-Gailic carol "Taludh Chriosda" (Christ Child's Lullaby) so I tracked down a youtube.com version for you:

Of course who can forget the great Lalo Guerrero and Pancho Claus:

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Non-fiction and Poetry Books in December 2010 and Y2K Retrospective Part II - Poetry

New Nonfiction, Poetry, and Children's Books in December 2010

University of Minnesota Press 2010
ISBN 978-0-8166-5615-8
ISBN 978-0-8166-5614-1
First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies Series
M. Bianet Castellanos

Tourism, consumption, migration, and the Maya in Cancún, A Return to Servitude is an ethnography of Maya migration within Mexico that analyzes the foundational role indigenous peoples play in the development of the modern nation-state. Focusing on tourism in the Yucatán Peninsula, M. Bianet Castellanos demonstrates how indigenous communities experience, resist, and accommodate themselves to transnational capitalism.

Raspas Arte Público Press; Bilingual edition Nov 30,
2010 ISBN-10: 1558855750), Lupe Ruiz-Flores (Author),
Alisha Gambino (Illustrator), Amira Plascencia
It was so hot in Caliente, Texas, that the townspeople gulped gallons of lemonade and poured buckets of water over their heads, but they couldn't stay cool.

Swinging on the front porch with her mother, Elena suddenly has an idea. Raspas -- icy cold snow cones -- are what the neighbors need to stay cool. And she can make and sell the refreshing treats from a stand in her own front yard! So with the help of her parents, Elena soon has a stand and the items needed to make and sell the snow cones. Before long everyone is lining up to buy the frosty delights in delicious flavors.

Elena's best friend Alma watches her friend's success from across the street and decides to start her own snow cone stand. And so begins the battle of the snow cones, with each girl devising ever more elaborate plans to attract clients: decorating their stands with colorful Mexican crepe paper flowers and papel picado, adding exotic flavors such as coconut and mango to their menus, staging puppet shows and even a folkloric dance. The girls' ice shaving machines furiously crank out raspas, until one day both machines go bonkers!

Readers will enjoy the girls' clever antics to attract customers in this lively, colorful picture book for children ages 4 - 8. And just as important, children will learn--along with Elena and Alma--that competitors can still be friends.

Chicana and Chicano Visions of the Americas Series, Vol. 8
Paperback Univ of Oklahoma Pr (Txt) December 1, 2010
ISBN-10: 0806141484ISBN-13: 978-0806141480
Kirk Nesset (Author, Editor)

Eugenio Montejo was one of the most significant Latin American poets and essayists of the past half century. Montejo (who died in 2008) was awarded both the National Prize for Literature in his native Venezuela and the prestigious Octavio Paz International Poetry and Essay Prize. This long-overdue volume offers selections from all ten of Montejo's books of poetry, as well as a handful of exemplary prose works. 

All of the selections are presented here in the original Spanish, with translations in English by Kirk Nesset, a prize-winning American writer and poet.

Alphabet of the World reveals Montejo's themes and stylistic range as it charts his formal and emotional trajectory. The poems offer meditations on the subject of time, on the immutability of spirit, on eros and birth, and on the role of language in all things human. The book also includes excerpts from Montejo's Notebook of Blas Coll and Guitar of the Horizon, and three complete essays selected specifically for the insight and depth they lend to his work in both genres.
The book s introduction situates and appraises Montejo's achievement, exploring the corpus comprehensively for the first time in English. Alphabet of the World marks Montejo's U.S. debut, a major stride toward winning him the English-speaking recognition he deserves.

The Mexican Experience Series Paperback 
University of Nebraska Press December 1, 2010
ISBN-10: 0803228449
ISBN-13: 978-0803228443
Prof. Colin M. MacLachlan PhD (Author), William H. Beezley (Author)

After Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, it began the work of forging its identity as an independent nation, a process that would endure throughout the crucial nineteenth century. 

A weakened Mexico faced American territorial ambitions and economic pressure, and the U.S.-Mexican War threatened the fledgling nation’s survival. In 1876 Porfirio Díaz became president of Mexico, bringing political stability to the troubled nation. Although Díaz initiated long-delayed economic development and laid the foundation of modern Mexico, his government was an oligarchy created at the expense of most Mexicans.

This accessible account guides the reader through a pivotal time in Mexican history, including such critical episodes as the reign of Santa Anna, the U.S.-Mexican War, and the Porfiriato. Colin M. MacLachlan and William H. Beezley recount how the century between Mexico’s independence and the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution had a lasting impact on the course of the nation’s history.

Transforming Borders: Chicana/o Popular Culture and Pedagogy
Hardcover Lexington Books December 16, 2010
ISBN-10: 073914779X
ISBN-13: 978-0739147795
C. Elenes (Author) 

Transforming Borders Chicana/o Popular Culture and Pedagogy situates Chicana feminists' re-imagining of La Llorona, the Virgin of Guadalupe, and Malintzin/Malinche as sources of border/transformative pedagogies. In doing so, C. Alejandra Elenes contributes to the scholarship on transformative pedagogies by adding the voices of Chicana feminist pedagogies, epistemologies, and ontologies. 

Linking the relationship between cultural practices, knowledge, and teaching in everyday life, Elenes develops h er conceptualization of border/transformative pedagogies.

Paperback University of New Mexico Press December 1, 2010
ISBN-10: 082634898X
ISBN-13: 978-0826348982
Heather McCrea

Throughout recorded history, epidemics have touched every aspect of life, including commerce, travel, agriculture, religious ritual, education, and political campaigns. In the tropical region of Yucatan, Mexico, which hosted a plethora of diseases, the violent resistance of various Mayan groups to state exploitation created one of the least understood but most significant threats to Mexican rule since the Conquest. 

As protection of one's own health -- as well as control over individual and collective bodies -- came to be ingrained in the imagined community that elites sought to construct, public health campaigns became symbols of modernization and an extension of the state's efforts to remake clean citizens out of what some perceived as the filthy, the disorderly, and the rebellious. Their medical plans and legislation, however, often ran counter to long-practiced rituals of burial, mourning, food preparation, and sick care in the region.

This study examines the politics of post-colonial state-building through the lens of disease and public health policy in order to trace how indigenous groups on the periphery of power and geography helped shape the political practices and institutions of modern Mexico. 

Placing Yucatan at the center of an international labor force, global economics (due to the henequen boom), and a modernizing medical establishment, Heather McCrea incorporates the region into a larger discussion about socioeconomic change and the pervasive role that health care, or lack thereof, plays in human society.

Heather McCrea is assistant professor of history at Kansas State University.

University of Minnesota Press 2010
ISBN 978-0-8166-6959-2
ISBN 978-0-8166-6958-5
Mark C. Jerng

How transracial adoption and its history changes the way we see family, nation, and race.

Transracial adoption has recently become a hotly contested subject of contemporary and critical concern, with scholars across the disciplines working to unravel its complex implications. In Claiming Others, Mark C. Jerng traces the practice of adoption to the early nineteenth century, revealing its surprising centrality to American literature, law, and social thought.

"Claiming Others is a pioneering study that provides high-level theoretical grounding for a new field. Transracial/transnational interactions are basic to American adoption history from the early nineteenth century, he demonstrates; they didn't just begin in the 1950s. Jerng makes intellectual and aesthetic sense of writings by and about a new community of transracial and transnational adoptees as he discusses their new modes of personhood. This book will be essential to anyone attempting a theoretically informed discussion of adoption and culture."
-Marianne Novy, author of Reading Adoption: Family and Difference in Fiction and Drama

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Y2K Retrospective: A Look Back at Chican@ Poetry Books in 2000, Party II

Read Part I
Read Y2K Retrospective Novels

Winner of the Poesia Tejana Prize
Paperback Wings Press (TX)
ISBN-10: 0930324625
ISBN-13: 978-0930324629
Carolina Monsivais

"I drop a rope inside myself and with callused hands covered with blood I pull on the rope that has my strength on the other end."

So reads an untitled poem, descending like a rope down a page in Carolina Monsivais' small book of poetry "Somewhere between Houston and El Paso,". "Women play a big role in Monsivais' poetry, which includes poems about a sister, grandmother, a mother with cancer and many nameless women with fresh wounds delivered by their spouses. In one poem, the poet even describes fellow El Pasoan Cecilia Rodriguez. In the poem, Rodriguez, Monsivais describes the Zapatista rebellion of 1994 to a Houston audience: "She brought to us stories of pueblerinos whose names we'd later write on paper tombs during a protest of their massacre." The title poem states:

As always, I anticipate the sunset
that greets me with a different face
each time I make my way back home
to desert, I carry always right
below skin in sand-swept pulses,
It drops red, behind mountains ... .

Monsivais' work is one that the reader will soak up and cherish. Her future looks bright, and we hope she keeps her pen flowing. --- Raymundo Eli Rojas, El Paso Times

Camino Del Sol Series Paperback
University of Arizona Press 2000
ISBN-10: 0816519862 ISBN-13: 978-0816519866
Juan Felipe Herrera 

The highlands of Chiapas are smoldering with death. In the winter of 1997, paramilitary agents ambushed and killed many Mayan villagers in Acteal, Chiapas. 

Gifted writer Juan Felipe Herrera has composed a stirring poem sequence -- published in a bilingual format--written in response and homage to those who died, as well as to all those who call for peace and justice in the Mexican highlands and throughout the Americas. 
Thunderweavers is a story of violent displacements in the lives of the most impoverished residents of southern Mexico, the Tzotzil Tzeltal campesinos. 

It deals with the destruction of a people and all evidence of their lives: Why am I Tzotzil?
Why was I born in this land of so many storms?
I plant corn and yet I reap gunpowder
I plant coffee and yet I reap mad spirits
I plant my house and yet I reap the viscera
of this fallen earth. 

The sections are written in the voices of four women from a family in Chiapas: Xunka, a lost twelve-year-old girl; Pascuala, the mother; grandmother Maruch; and Makal, an older daughter who is pregnant. Each voice weaves into the others and speaks for still other members of the larger Mayan and Native American family. 

Herrera, a major Chicano poet known for his expansive, surreal writing, here takes on a spare and lyrical style in the tradition of Rosario Castellanos, recalling as well the canto legacy of Pablo Neruda and the testimonial call of Ernesto Cardenal. Thunderweavers is a poetic account of transcendence and continuity in the midst of chaos, suffering, and war-a Mayan cycle of personal, physical, and spiritual struggles that Indian women have been continuously engaged in for th-a past five hundred years. 

Camino Del Sol Series Hardcover
Publisher: University of Arizona Press (January 1, 2000)
ISBN-10: 0816519641 ISBN-13: 978-0816519644
Ray Gonzalez

The rhythm of vision, the rhythm of dream, the rhythm of voices saturating the hot southwestern landscape. These are the rhythms of Ray Gonzalez, the haunting incantations of Turtle Pictures.
Gonzalez has forged a new Chicano manifesto, a cultural memoir that traces both his personal journey and the communal journey that Mexican Americans have traveled throughout this century, across this land. 

He interweaves lyrical poetry, prose poems, short fiction, and nonfiction commentary into a lush cacophony that traces the evolution of today's politically charged Chicano voices from the deafening silence of their ancestors. 

Adopting the turtle as a metaphor for the Native American origins of border culture, Gonzalez frames this multitextured individual vision until it becomes a universal portrait of American life: a slow, ancient creature morphing into one of voracious rapidity. In wild and challenging surrealistic images, he hammers out a political statement from language that takes on a special urgency. 

Walking a fine line between lyricism and polemic, and succeeding where others have stumbled, he calls on Mexican Americans to return to their roots in order to avoid being swept up in American material culture. 

Turtle Pictures is a complex body of work by a poet totally in tune with the spirit and nuances of language, imbued with a deep sense of craft and literary tradition. It invites readers to revel in its richness and vitality, to be caught up in its chantlike spirit, to luxuriate in its hauntingly beautiful passages. It is a work to devour, to savor, to return to, for it speaks with all the rhythms of the soul. 

Paperback Cinco Puntos Press 2000
ISBN-10: 0938317520 ISBN-13: 978-0938317524
Luis Alberto Urrea (Author), Jose Galvez (Photographer)

One evening, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Jos Galvez heard Luis Alberto Urrea read "Hymn to Vatos Who Will Never Be in a Poem" with its chant-like repetitions and its evocation of Chicano manhood. 

As Urrea read each line, an image clicked in Jos's memory, and he knew that he had already taken that photograph. The result of that experience is this remarkable book.

Vatos is street slang for dude, guy, pal, brother. It sprang from the highly stylized language of the Pachucos (los chukotes) in the '50s. It's a Chicano term derived from the once-common friendly insult chivato, or goat. It had a slightly unacceptable air to it, which the Locos and Weesas of the Chuco world enjoyed. They were able to take the sting out of racism by calling themselves a bunch of names assimilated "good Mexicans" didn't like. 

Camino Del Sol Series Paperback University of Arizona Press July 1, 2000
ISBN-10: 0816520437 ISBN-13: 978-0816520435
Diana García 

"I write what I eat and smell," says Diana Garcia, and her words are a bountiful harvest. Her poems color the page with the vibrancy and sweetness of figs, the freshness of tortillas, and the sensuality of language. In this collection, she takes a bittersweet look back at the migrant labor camps of California and offers a tribute to the people who toiled there.

Camino Del Sol Series Paperback 
University of Arizona Press 2000
ISBN-10: 0816519854 ISBN-13: 978-0816519859
Juan Felipe Herrera

A poetic collage of voices, genres, and time-spaces. A postmodern performance of naked figures hanging in the nebulae of a militarized universe. A new millennium cubist manifesto against decrepit political machines. A mystic song in search of birth and love. . . . Juan Felipe Herrera's natural talent for capturing the raw dimensions of reality merges here with his wild imagination and technical prowess. 

Things, names, places, histories, herstories, desires, wills, minds, and their effects and progeny are re-mixed, re-mastered, and re-cast into a new narrative theater. Giraffe on Fire is a breathtaking addition to a respected body of work by a poet not afraid to speak out about how poetry reflects the raw beauty and truth of life. 

Campesino Fingerprints
Calaca Chapbook Series Volume 1
Paperback Calaca Press; 2nd edition 2000
ISBN-10: 0966077326 ISBN-13: 978-0966077322
Rod Ricardo-Livingstone

Poetry. Latino/Latina Studies. Newly available from SPD. Rod Ricardo-Livingstone was born and raised in Fresno, California. Part of the first generation in his family to be removed from the long hours and hard work of the agricultural fields, he expresses in his work his appreciation of and love for his family. He is a member of the Royal Chicano Navy based in Fresno under the admiralship of Gary Soto. Ricardo-Livingstone currently works as a high school teacher in Carlsbad, CA. CAMPESINO FINGERPRINTS is illustrated by Chicano Park muralist Victor Orozco Ochoa.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Chicano Writers and the Art of the Novel, Part II by Felipe de Ortego y Gasca


Above, Felipe de Ortego y Gasca
Chicano Writers and the Art of the Novel
Part II

Read Part I

By Felipe de Ortego y Gasca
Scholar in Residence and Chair, Department of Chicana/o & Hemispheric Studies, Western New Mexico University; Professor Emeritus, Texas State University System—Sul Ross

The Chicano novel dates from 1959 with publication of Pocho by Jose Antonio Villarreal. Already mentioned, there were Mexican American novelists before 1959. By 1969, ten years after publication of Pocho, there were only eight novels published by Chicano writers. 

In 1970 with publication of ...Y no se lo trago la tierra by Tomás Rivera, Chicano literature bifurcated along language lines – Chicano works in English and Chicano works in Spanish. These forking paths did not (and do not) signal a philosophical rift between two camps of Chicano writers. It means, rather, that there are some Chicano writers who prefer to write in Spanish or English or are more comfortable in one or the other language. 

However, many Chicano writers work in both languages, like Rolando Hinojosa or Alejandro Morales, to name but two. This raises again the question of linguistic realities for Chicanos who may be monolingual or bilingual and/or may participate to varying degrees in Chicano English and/or Chicano Spanish. Manifestations of these linguistic realities crop up in all the genres of Chicano literature. The question is: are these linguistic manifestations congruent with the realities of Chicano existence? Or does the language of choice predicate a particular perspective or point of view?

In his essay on “Contemporary Chicano Prose Fiction: Its Ties to Mexican Literature,” Charles Tatum raises an important point in getting at the wellspring of Chicano literature, particularly Chicano prose fiction. While Chicano fiction – in this case, the novel – has obvious connections to Mexican literature, it also has obvious connections to American literature. 

Chicano literature is not simply an extension of Mexican literature in the United States, anymore than it is simply an outcrop of American literature in a distinct region of the country. One can not talk about Chicano writers in the same way one talks about “Southern writers,” say. While both are geographically bound, more or less, the latter is part and parcel of American culture, the former still shares a culture with Mexico. Ultimately, the assessment of the Chicano novel will be in terms it brings to the discussion, much the way Louis Gates talks about Black literature. Which is as it should be.

To avoid the pitfalls of Roland heading straight toward the “dark tower,” in my commentaries about “the Chicano novel” I use the locution: “Mexican American/Chicano writers and the art of the novel.” In the Chronology that follows, I’m sure I’ve missed some novels. Mea culpa.


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Originally published in Somos en escrito: the Latino On-Line Literary Magazine, November 12, 2009



Mexican American Fiction and the Beginnings of the Novel

1872 Who Would Have Thought it? by Maria Amparo de Burton (Lippincot)
1885 The Squatter and the Don by Maria Amparo de Burton (Carson & Company)
1892 El Hijo de la Tempestad by Eusebio Chacon (Boletin Popular)
Tras la Tormenta la Calma by Eusebio Chacon (Boletin Popular)
1896 Vicente Silva y sus 40 Bandidos by Manuel C. de Baca
1924 Eustacia y Carlota by Felipe M.Chacon
1928 Las Aventuras de Don Chipote by Daniel Venegas (Arte Publico 1984)
1938 Conchita Arguello by Aurelio Espinosa (Macmillan)
1945 Mexican Village by Josephina Niggli (University of North Carolina Press)
1947 Step Down, Elder Brother by Josephina Niggli (Rinehart)
1959 Pocho by Jose Antonio Villarreal (Doubleday)

The First Chicano Decade: 1960-1969--Early Efforts I

1960 The Lady From Toledo by Fray Angelico Chavez (Academy Guild)
1963 City of Night by John Rechy (Grove Press)
1966 Unscaled Fortress by Antonio Serna Candelaria (Bennett)
1967 Numbers by John Rechy (Grove Press)
Tattoo the Wicked Cross by Floyd Salas (Grove Press)
1969 This Day’s Death by John Rechy (Grove Press)
What Now My Love by Floyd Salas (Grove Press)
The Plum Plum Pickers by Raymond Barrio (Ventura Press)
Afro 6 by Enrique Hank Lopez (Dell)

The Second Chicano Decade: 1970-1979--Early Efforts II

1970 Chicano by Richard Vasquez (Doubleday)
Return to Ramos by Leo Cardenas (Hill & Wang)
1971 Y no se lo Trago la Tierra by Thomas Rivera (Quinto Sol)
Blessing From Above by Arthur Tenorio (West Las Vegas, NM, School Press)
Vampires by John Rechy (Grove Press)
1972 The Autobiography of a Brown Buffalo by Oscar Acosta (Straight Arrow Books)
The Fourth Angel by John Rechy (Viking Press)
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya (Quinto Sol)
1973 The Revolt of the Cockroach People by Oscar Acosta (Straight Arrow Books)
Macho by Edmund Villaseñor (Bantam Books)
Estampas del Valle by Rolando Hinojosa (Quinto Sol)
1974 Peregrinos de Aztlan by Miguel Mendez (Editorial Peregrinos)
Two Ranges by Robert Medina (Bronson)
The Fifth Horseman by Jose Antonio Villarreal (Doubleday)
1975 The Road to Tamazunchale by Ron Aria (West Coast Poetry Review)
Caras Viejas y Vino Nuevo by Alejandro Morales (Joaquin Mortiz)
Come Down From the Mound by Berta Ornelas (Miter)
1976 Nambe--Year One by Orlando Romero (Tonatiuh)
Klail City y sus Alrededores by Rolando Hinojosa (Casa de las Americas)
Below the Summit by Joseph Torres-Metzger (Tonatiuh)
Victuum by Isabela Rios (Diana-Etna)
Heart of Aztlan by Rudolfo Anaya (Justa)
El Diablo en Tejas by Aristeo Brito (Editorial Peregrinos)
The Devil’s Apple Crops by Raymond Barrio (Ventura)
Chicano, Go Home by Tomas Lopez (Exposition Press)
Pachuco Mark by Rudolph Melendez (Grossmount)
1977 Generaciones y Semblanzas by Rolando Hinojosa (Justa)
Memories of the Alhambra by Nash Candelaria (Cibola Press)
The Waxen Image by Rudy Apodaca (Titan)
Don-Phil-O-Meno si la Marcha by Phil Sanchez (Alamosa)
1978 Fabian no se Muere by Roberto Medina (Bilingual Publications)
The Giant Killer by Richard Vasquez (Manor Books)
Lay My Body on the Line by Floyd Salas (Yardbird Press)
From Common clay by Adalberto Acosta (Maryland Press)
1979 Rushes by John Rechy (Grove Press)
Pelon Drops Out by Celso de Casas (Tonatiuh)
La Verdad sin Voz by Alejandro Morales (Joaquin Mortiz) Tortuga by Rudolfo Anaya (Justa)
Jambeaux by Laurence Gonzales (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)
Letters to Louis by Abelardo Delgado (Tonatiuh)

The Third Chicano Decade: 1980-1989--Later Works

1980 The Aguila Family by Tomas Lopez (Mexican American Publictions)
Pachuco By Dennis Rodriguez (Holloway)
1981 Mi Querido Rafa by Rolando Hinojosa (Arte Publico)
Faultline by Sheila Ortiz Taylor
There are no Madmen Here by Gina Valdes (Maize)
The Last Deal by Laurence Gonzales (Atheneum)
1982 Another Land by Richard Vasquez (Avon)
Rites and Witnesses by Rolando Hinojosa (Arte Publico)
Not by the Sword by Nash Candelaria (Bilingual Press)
The Healing Ritual by Ricardo Martinez (Tonatiuh)
Portrait of Doña Elena by Katherine Quintana Ranck (Tonatiuh)
1983 Reto en el Paraiso by Alejandro Morales (Bilingual Press)
The Valley by Rolando Hinojosa (Arte Publico)
El Vago by Laurence Gonzales (Atheneum)
Bodies and Souls by John Rechy (Carroll & Graf)
Three Coffins for Nino Lencho by Armando Rico (Tonatiuh)
1984 Mi Querido Rafa by Rolando Hinojosa (Arte Publico)
Muerte en una Estrella by Sergio Elizondo (Arte Publico)
The Rain God by Arturo Islas (Alexandrian Press)
Clemente Chacon by Jose Antonio Villarreal (Bilingual Press)
Dudes or Duds by Charles Aranda (Carlo Press)
The Legend of La Llorona by Rudolfo Anaya (Tonatiuh)
Adventures of the Chicano Kid by Max Martinez
1985 Leaving Home by Lionel Garcia (Arte Publico)
Dear Rafe by Rolando Hinojosa (Arte Publico)
The Comeback by Ed Vega
Partners in Crime by Rolando Hinojosa (Arte Publico)
Face by Cecile Piñeda (Penguin)
Inheritance of Strangers by Nash Candelaria (Bilingual Press)
Puppet, Margarita Cota-Cardenas
1986 The Mixquiahuala Letters by Ana Castillo (Bilingual Press)
Trini by Estela Portillo (Bilingual Press)
Claros Varones de Belken by Rolando Hinojosa (Bilingual Press)
El Sueño de Santa maria de las Piedras by Miguel Mendez (Univ. Guadalajara)
1987 A Shroud in the Family by Lionel Garcia (Arte Publico)
1988 Rainbow’s End by Genaro Gonzalez (Arte Publico)
The Brick People by Alejandro Morales (Arte Publico)
Death of an Anglo by Alejandro Morales (Bilingual Press)
Delia’s Song by Lucha Corpi (Arte Publico)
Schoolland by Max Martinez (Arte Publico)
Oddsplayer by Joe Rodriguez (Arte Publico)
1989 Marilyn’s Daughter by John Rechy (Viking)
Across the Great River by Irene Hernandez (Arte Publico)
The Wedding by Mary Helen Ponce (Arte Publico)
Becky and Her Friends by Rolando Hinojosa (Arte Publico)
Face of an Angel by Denise Chavez (Arte Publico)
Kicking the Habit by Jeanne Cordova (Multiple Dimensions)

The Fourth Chicano Decade: 1990-1999--Fin de Siecle

1990 Hardscrub by Lionel Garcia (Arte Publico)
Intaglio by Roberta Fernandez
George Washington Gomez by Americo Paredes (Arte Publico)1992 
Eulogy for a Brown Angel by Lucha Corpi
Rain of Gold by Victor Villaseñor (Arte Publico)
Albuquerque by Rudolfo Anaya


So Far From God, Ana Castillo (Norton)
In Search of Bernabe by Graciela Limón (Arte Publico Press)
The Ballad of Rocky Ruiz by Manuel Ramos (St. Martins Press)

1994 The Candy Vendor’s Boy by Beatriz de la Garza
The Memories of Ana Calderon by Graciela Limon
Mother Tongue by Demetria Martinez (Bilingual Review Press)
The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuña by Dagoberto Gilb
The Ballad of Gato Guerrero by Manuel Ruiz (St. Martins Press)
La Maravilla by Alfredo Vea, Jr. (Dutton)
Dogs from Illusion by Charley Trujillo (Chusma)

1995 Under the Feet of Jesus by Helena Maria Viramontes
Only the Good Times, Juan Bruce-Novoa (Arte Publico Press)
Zia Summer by Rudolfo Anaya
Dr. Magdalena by Rosa Martha Villarreal (TQS)
Carry Me Like Water by Benjamin Alire Saenz (Harper Collines)

1996 Rio Grande Falls by Rudolfo Anaya
Caballero by Jovita Gonzalez & Eve Raleigh
1997 Breaking Even by Alejandro Grattan-Dominguez
A Message from the Desert by Rudolfo Anaya
The House of Forgetting by Benjamin Alire Saenz

1999 The Day of the Moon by Graciela Limón (Arte Publico Press)
Sor Juana's Second Dream by Alicia Gaspar de Alba (University of NM Press)

The 21st Century--Millennial Vistas

2001 Loving Pedro Infante by Denise Chavez (Washington Square Press)
2002 Let Their Spirits Dance by Stella Pope Duarte (Harper Collins)
2003 Drift by Manuel Luis Martinez (Picador Press)
2004 Dark Eclipse: Rise of an Era by Christopher M. Salas (One Level Higher)
Playing with Boys by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez (Macmillan)

2005 Our House on Hueco by Carlos Flores (Texas Tech University Press)
The Color of Law bu Mark Gimenez (Anchor Books)
The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Urrea (Little Brown/Time Warner)
Erased Faces by Graciela Limón (Arte Publico Pressw)
Desert Blood: The Juárez Murders by Alicia Gaspar de Alba (Arte Publico Press)

2006 In Perfect Light by Benjamin Alire Saenz (Harper Collins)
Our House on Hueco Street, Carlos Nicolas Flores (Texas Tech)
Twist of Fate by Roberto de Haro
2007 Their Dogs Came With Them by Helena Maria Viramontes (Atria Books) Calligraphy of the Witch by Alicia Gaspar de Alba ( St. Martin's Press)
The Worm in my Tomato by Santos C. Vega (Abrazo Books)

2008 The Flowers by Dagoberto Gilb (Grove Press)
If I Die in Juarez by Stella Pope Duarte (University of Arizona Press)
Nymphos of Rocky Flats by Mario Acevedo (Rayo)
The River Flows North by Graciela Limón (Arte Publico Press)
Brotherhood of the Light by Ray Michael Baca, (Floricanto Press)

2009 The Flowers byDagoberto Gilb (Grove Press)
Dead is so Last Year by Marlene Perez (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Suzanna by Irene Blea (Floricanto Press)
For Nadine’s Love: A Warrior’s Quest by Roberto de Haro (Booksurge)

Copyright ©2010 by Felipe de Ortego y Gasca. All rights reserved.

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