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

Octavio Romano

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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