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HISTORIA CHICANA

7 April 2014

National Hispanic Forum


December 2, 2013

CHICANO LITERATURE: SHAPING THE CANON


By Felipe de Ortego y Gasca
Scholar in Residence (Cultural Studies, Critical Theory, Public Policy), Western New Mexico University

ne of the difficulties in building a Chicano literary canon is that,


unfortunately, Chicano texts are often assessed for inclusion or exclusion
in that canon by many who cannot really give an accurate measure of their
worth. Most often what is offered (or proffered) is a highly idiocritical judgment
that tells us more about the judge than the work being judged. Still, someone must
make a decision about which texts ought to be in the canon.
It is true that some of the early builders of Chicano literary canon established suffocating strictures for
canonization that made few "saints" possible. In the main, those strictures required that works dubbed as
''Chicano literature" identify the enemy, promote the revolution and praise the people. In the beginning
of the Chicano literary movement these strictures posed two considerations that dealt ambivalently with
ideological needs and literary merit.
In the Fall of 1969, however, these strictures and considerations posed no dilemma whatsoever for me
as I set about to teach the first course in Chicano literature in the country at the University of New
Mexico as part of an assortment of course offerings in the fledgling Chicano Studies Program headed
by Louis Bransford. What was needed for the course were texts I naively presumed would be easy to
find. It was that naivet that led to my study of Backgrounds of Mexican American Literature
(University of New Mexico, 1971), the first literary inquiry in the field of Chicano literature, which I
undertook from 1969 to 1970 and out of which grew my concept of "The Chicano Renaissance." Many
of the Mexican American literary works I found and surveyed for that course (and later for the study)
were in various libraries whose nooks and crannies I scoured, but many were in private collections
difficult to get to. The wonder, though, is why no one before had looked at Mexican American writing
collectively as a literary tradition, studied it and given it a taxonomical structure from which to discuss it
critically and historically as an integral part of the Mexican American experience and of American
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literature.
The course was successful beyond my expectations despite the obvious lack of Chicano literary canon
and the paucity of works readily available for instruction. I winged it not knowing I was winging it, for I
approach-ed the course from my traditional preparation as a teacher of English and years of experience
in the field developing new courses. But this course was different. Many of the historical texts I thought
suitable for the course were woefully out of print. Contemporary works were difficult to secure in
quantities sufficient for the enrollment of the course since many of them were published ephemerally by
"small" presses or in garage presses like Raymond Barrios' The Plum, Plum Pickers. One of those small
presses was Caravel Press.
Despite these shortcomingsor perhaps because of themI began to frame a taxonomy for Chicano
literature in 1969 that has held up surprisingly well in the last four decades. Following my lead, some
years later Luis Leal chose different milestones for the taxonomy but, by and large, the original scheme I
offered continues to be a guide to the roots and traditions of Chicano literature.
Taxonomically I conceptualized Chicano literature as a continuum of two pasts, welded together by the
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on February 2, 1848. The first part (pre-1848) included the "literary roots"
of Chicanos (Indian, Spanish and Mexican); the second part (post-1848) included the "literary
traditions" of Chicanos (Mexican American and American). The literary precursors of the Chicano
Renaissance emerged during the period from 1848 to 1966, the first year of "The Chicano Renaissance."
We have grandfathered those precursor Mexican American writers and made them Chicanos since their
contributions to the Chicano renaissance are of enormous importance and value.
What strikes me now as most peculiar about assumptions a propos Chicano literature was the naivet
that attended their genesis. In 1966 Chicano writers like Tomas Rivera, Estela Portillo, Rolando
Hinojosa, Rudy Anaya, Dorinda Moreno, Richard Vasquez (to name but a few) were still years away.
Nevertheless, out of that proffered taxonomy came my quest for Chicano literary roots and traditions
and the growing consciousness that literary production by Chicanos since 1966 manifested something
akin to a "renaissance" much like the literary ferment of the Southern renaissance of the 1930's or the
Harlem renaissance of the 1920's or the Irish renaissance of the 1890's. For it seemed to me, what I
observed was an efflorescence in every sense of the worda "reaffirmation" of Mexican American
identity via cultural arts. Unfortunately, the term renaissance" was freighted with ideological
difficulties which I will not rehearse here, suffice to say it lent heat (if not light) to the semantic
difficulties a number of Chicanos had with the word renaissancea term they equated with having
been asleep.
It's difficult to say just when a literary phenomenon like the Chicano renaissance began and equally
difficult to say just when it endedif it has ended at all as some Chicano critics contend, for there has
been substantial production of literary works of high merit by Chicanos since 1975, the year I've used as
the terminus for the Chicano Renaissance. The starting point, 1966, is not an arbitrary date, for it was in
that year that a group of Chicano intellectuals (mostly from colleges and universities) met at Occidental
College in California to examine and to discuss the conspectus of Chicano intellectual thought against
the background of the emerging Chicano Movement. Out of that meeting came the kernel for the
creation of Quinto Sol Publications and the literary review El Grito: Journal of Contemporary Mexican
American Thought which appeared in 1967. Giving closure to such a period of literary efflorescence is
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difficult, I know, but it seems to me that 1975 marks a turning point in the impetus which gave rise to
that literary boom. The chronological boundary markers I've chosen to demarcate the Chicano
Renaissance have nothing to do with quality or the caliber of Chicano literary works. The boundaries
simply mark a time-frame during which the fervor of literary creation focused on Chicano nationalism
and the idealization of "Aztlan" (nation-state of Chicanos, a name appropriated from the mythic
homeland of the Aztecs and which Chicanos located in the American Southwest in the states annexed by
the U.S. after its war with Mexico) as a motive theme for Chicanismo--a brotherhood that would create
Chicano unity.
Ironically, California proved to be the fuse of the Chicano Renaissance that Aurora Lucero hoped New
Mexico would produce. In 1953 she wrote optimistically: "There now remains but one renaissance to be
effected--the literary. With the happy accident that New Mexico possesses more traditional literary
materials than any other Hispanic region it should be possible to bring about such a rebirth in the
reenactment of the lovely old plays, in the keeping alive the lovely old folk dances and in the singing of
the old traditional songs.'' But the Chicano Renaissance came into being not in relation to the quaint and
traditional Hispanic past of the Mexican American Southwest but in the wake of growing awareness by
Mexican Americans of their Mestizo past and their sociopolitical status. The Chicano Renaissance was a
people's coming of age, long overdue, which, like Milton's unsightly root which, in another country,
bore a bright and golden flower.
By 1970, when I moved from New Mexico State University [where I spent most of the 60's] to the
University of Texas at El Paso as professor of English and founding director of Chicano Studies [first
such program in the state of Texas and 3rd in the nation], the Chicano literary vistas of Chicanos in
American literature [the handful of us] focused on Jose Antonio Villarreal, John Rechy, Floyd Salas,
Mario Suarez, and Daniel Garza. The list included also Aurelio Espinosa, Jovita Gonzalez, Arturo
Campa, Nina Otero, Fray Angelico Chavez, Aurora Lucero and America Paredes.
From the locus of those days the peaks of Chicano literature were barely apprehended. The literary
landscape of the United States was devoid (and barren) of Chicano writers (except for the few just
cited). Even those writers, however, were not to be found in the standard (canonical) texts of American
literature, certainly not in the Cambridge History of American Literature nor the Literary History of the
United States. A few were found in special anthologies like Our Southwestern Writers edited by Mabel
Majors, Rebecca Smith and Thomas Pearce. Works like Life and Literature of the Southwest by J. Frank
Dobie made passing referen-ces to Chicano writers (identified primarily as Spanish Americans). In
every respect, though, the lineup of American literature did not include Chicanosstill doesn't!
This was, then, in 1969, the state of affairs in Mexican American literature [the word "Chicano" was still
eschewed by most Mexican Americans]. I prefaced Backgrounds of Mexican American Literature by
pointing out that the study represented but a skeletal view of Mexican American literature, that it was
an explora-tion in literary archaeology, and that what was proffered was much like the representations
we see of dinosaurs in museums, made life-like from deductions, inductions, abductions and subductions
of bits and pieces of the animals found here and there. We don't really know what woolly mammoths or
mastodons looked like. Or saber-toothed tigers. Or pterodactyls. Or early man. The taxidermic models
we see in museums are what we think they could have looked like from the way we've pieced together
the scant evidence (bones) we've found. In literary history, as in archaeology, there is always a lacuna
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(discontinuity) in need of exploration, illumination and interpretation. It's obvious that in 1969 our
sources for Mexican American literature were manifold but our texts were meager.
Backgrounds of Mexican American Literature was the first Chicano effort to construct a historical
chronicle of Chicano Literature, from its antecedents to 1971.Archaeologically speaking, the digging
was arduous. I felt like an old-time aviator, flying only by the seat-of-my-pants on "dead reckoning."
Extending the analogy, that early work of mine was like the first "aeroplane" the Wright brothers "flew"
at Kitty Hawk. What followed the Wright brothers was easier. Aviationists could see what a "better"
aeroplane needed. But "better" aeroplanes were not possible until the first aeroplane "flew." For
example, speaking about a San Francisco writer, journalist and editor of Hispano-America, Jorge Ulica
(1880-1926), ["found" by Dr. Clara Lomas in 1978], Luis Leal sums up the archaeological literary find
as follows: "How is it possible that such a rich prose has remained undiscovered for so long? More
importantly--perhaps unpardonable, we might add--how many more Ulicas are lying about in dusty bins
of libraries or the yellowed pages of old newspapers? Until they are found, like Ulica, we cannot speak
definitively about a history of Chicano literature" [translation mine].
Charles Tatum agrees, adding that "along with other writers like him, Ulica should figure prominently in
any future reconstruction of Chicano literary history." Indeed, finding the works of Ulica and other
writers like him shed light on the lacunae about which I spoke in 1971, the "missing links" in the
history of Chicano literature. Jorge Ulica's prose remained "unfound" for so long because we needed
first to "create" the frame-of-reference, the concept of a history of Chicano literature and then a canon of
Chicano literature, into which Ulica's prose could fit or cannot fit.
And there lies the thrust of this piece: How to "fill" the lacunae of Chicano literature? How to shape the
canon? We knew more about Chicano literature in 1990 than we did in 1969. Twenty-one years after
Kitty Hawk we knew considerably more about heavier-than-air flight. Regardless of the configuration
(shape)-- piper cubs, C-47's, 747's--airplanes have certain aero-dynamic features in common. So too, the
works which we identify as Chicano literature contains certain literary features in common.
Generally speaking, Chicano literature is that body of literary production (some call it "cultural
production") written by Chicanos. Some Chicano critics add that it must reflect a Chicano
consciousness, which is why in some accounts of the Chicano novel, for example, writers like John
Rechy and Floyd Salas are excluded. Yet in some of Rechy's novels, City of Night and Numbers, and
Salas' Tattoo the Wicked Cross, there are strong glimpses of the Chicano presence, though not
articulated as such. In the wider view of Chicano literature, Rechy and Salas are both Chicano writers
whose novels do not deal specifically with the Chicano experience, just as some of Frank Yerby's novels
do not deal with the "black experience" though he's a Black writer.
Attempting a definition of Chicano literature reminds me of Lao Tzu, the Taoist philosopher writing
some 2500 years ago, who explained that "the Tao that can be expressed is not the real Tao." Yet I'm
loathe to suggest that one needs to be Chicano to really understand Chicano literature. But the Irish poet
Yeats sensed a comparable parallel when he realized that to really understand Irish literature one had to
be Irish. Still, "national' literatures have a way of transcending boundaries and borders.
In the 1960's Chicano literature emerged as a means by which Chicanos could find their own voice, their
own sense of being Chicano, not Spanish, not Mexican, not American, but Chicano. As it emerged from
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the cauldron of Chicano nationalism, the role of Chicano literature was to reflect Chicano life and
Chicano values, drawing from a Chicano imagination distinctively Chicano. That many of the early
works of Chicano literature were inspired by ideological needs did not lessen the expectations that the
responsibilities of Chicano writers were ultimately to create a literature so essentially Chicano that it
stood on its own merits, apart from other literatures. Chicano literature was to free Chicanos from the
burden of American history and its libelous account of Chicanos and their ancestors. Like the disciples
of Senchan Torpeist, the fabled Irish poet of myth, who were sent out to recover the whole of the Tain-the great Irish saga--which none of them could remember entirely, Chicano writers were the "disciples"
through whom the lost inheritance of Chicanos would be recovered.
What passed for Mexican American literature in the 60's tended to be material that put Mexican
Americans and their Mexican kinsmen in a bad literary light, as Professor Cecil Robinson pointed out in
his work With the Ears of Strangers. Mexican Americans were inaccurately and superficially
represented in literature, movies, television and other mass media, sometimes by well-meaning
romanticists who distorted the image of Mexican Americans for the sake of their art. Mexican
Americans were characterized at both ends of a spectrum of human behavior--seldom in the middle--as
untrustworthy, villainous, ruthless, tequila- drinking, and philandering machos or else as courteous,
devout, and fatalistic peasants who were to be treated more as pets than as people. More often than not
Mexican Americans were cast as bandits or as lovable rogues; as hot-blooded, sexually animated
creatures or passive, humble servants.
Literary portraits of Mexican Americans by Anglo American writers have exerted extraordinary
influence since 1848 down to our time on generations of Americans who have come in contact with
them. Disparaging images of Mexican Americans were drawn by such writers as Richard Henry Dana,
who, in Two Years Before the Mast, described the Mexicans of California as "an idle, thriftless people"
who could "make nothing for themselves." In 1852 Colonel John Monroe reported to
Washington
"that the New Mexicans are thoroughly debased and totally incapable of self-government, and there is
no latent quality about them that can ever make them respectable. They have more Indian blood than
Spanish, and in some respects are below the Pueblo Indians, for they are not as honest or as industrious."
In 1868, The Overland Monthly published an article by William V. Wells in which he wrote that "in the
open field, a charge of disciplined troops usually sufficed to put to flight the collection of frowzyheaded mestizos, leperos, mulattoes, Indians, Samboes, and other mongrels now, as in the time of our
war with them, composing a Mexican Army." In our own time Walter Prescott Webb characterized
Mexicans as possessing" a cruel streak" he believed was inherited partly from the Spanish of the
inquisition and partly from their Indian forebears. On the whole," he went on, "the Mexican warrior . . .
was inferior to the Comanche and wholly unequal to Texans. The whine of the leaden slugs stirred in
him an irresistible impulse to travel with, rather than against, the music. He won more victories over the
Texans partly by parley than by force of arms. For making promises and for breaking them he had no
peer."
Mexican American youngsters were taught about the cruelty of their Spanish forebears and the
savagery of their Mexican-Indian ancestors; they were taught about the Spanish greed for gold, of the
infamous Span-ish Inquisition, of Aztec human sacrifices, of Mexican bandits, and of the massacre
at the Alamo. Sel-dom, if ever, were they told about the other men at the Alamo, their Mexican
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kinsmen--unknown and unsung in American history--who were killed fighting on the Texas side for
independence. American children have still probably never heard of such men as Juan Abamillo,
Juan Badillo, Carlos Espalier, Gregorio Esparza, Antonio Fuentes, Jose Maria Guerrero, Toribio
Losoya, Andres Nava and other Texas Mexicans at the Alamo. Information about the literary
accomplishments of
Mexican Americans from the end of the U.S. War with Mexico (1848) to the
present has been nil in American literary texts. Editors and writers of American literary texts have
excluded or minimized the literary achievements of Mexican Americans, first, and Chicanos later, for
reasons ranging from jingoism and racism to ignorance and disdain.
It would be immodest (and inaccurate) to suggest that the "renaissance" took shape (not place) because
of Backgrounds of Mexican American Literature. Essentially, the "renaissance" was the product of
multiple forces converging on the literary consciousness of Chicanos, including the forces of jingoism,
racism ignorance and disdain. To my knowledge, though, the first time the expression "The Chicano
Renaissance" appeared in print was in my article titled "The Chicano Renaissance" in the May
1971 issue of Social Casework. In retrospect that piece seems strangely out of place among the
assortment of essays collected in that particular issue of a professional journal for social workers,
focusing on the Chicano search for social justice. That too was the focus--though not exclusively--of
the essay "The Chicano Renaissance," social justice from a literary perspective. Perhaps the expression
"The Chicano Renaissance" then to describe the literary efflorescence of the Mexican American
Southwest may have been a premature designation for what was, obviously, an amorphous (and
acephalous) literary movement. Nevertheless, that was the first time the expression "The Chicano
Renaissance" was used as a concept of a critical piece about the literary "boom" then manifesting its
sonic presence in Chicano literature and about the literary legacy of Chicanos. Though it was an
important first piece in an emerging discipline, "The Chicano Renaissance" appeared slightly half-way
past the decade that was to ultimately bound the Chicano renaissance (1966-1975).
While that essay was more historically descriptive than analytical, more exhortative than critical, it did
assail the closed canon of American literature--closed in 1971 to minority writers (including Chicanos)
and not much open now. It is important to point out, however, that the canon of American literature had
been assailed earlier by Chicanos, in 1967, in the editorial of the premier issue of El Grito [produced by
Quinto Sol Publications], the first literary journal of the Chicano Movement and of the Chicano
renaissance. That editorial was a "manifesto" that the Quinto Sol Writers, at least, were out to establish
their own literary canon since entry to the American literary canon was blocked off to Chicanos. Quinto
Sol writers were in the vanguard of that surging literary effort, energizing Chicano and Chicana writers
everywhere to forego acceptance by mainstream publishers since that acceptance was not forthcoming
anyway. The Quinto Sol manifesto was the first plank in the structure of a Chicano canon.
Chicano litterateurs then were still threading their way through the Chicano Movement and its tenets, the
whole process was an improvisation of a tune we all knew but for which there was still no score, no
written music. Comme d'habitude, in a scintillating tour de force Juan Bruce Novoa pointed out, in
discussing "canonical" and "noncanonical" texts, that Chicanos were "early on" [meaning the late 60's,
the early years of the Chicano Renaissance] involved in the creation of canon, despite the scarcity of
Chicano texts. Indeed, the emphasis of those early years of the Chicano renaissance was in ferreting out
Chicano texts from nooks, crannies and lofts for Chicano literature courses and for raising the literary
consciousness of Chicanos via Chicano works. Slowly, a canonical trove of Chicano literature came
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into being, bearing enormous (some might say "usurious") interest on little capital.
In 1969as near as one could tellthere were eight (8) "published" novels by Chicanos (although
most of those writers did not identify themselves as "Chicanos," certainly not as Chicano writers nor
Chicano novelists): Pocho (1959) by Jose Antonio Villarreal; City of Night (1963), Numbers {1967),
and This Day's Death (1969) by John Rechy; Unscaled Fortress {1966) by Antonio Serna Candelaria;
Tattoo the Wicked Cross (1967) and What Now My Love {1969) by Floyd Salas; and The Plum Plum
Pickers (1969) by Raymond Barrio. That was it. Only later were we to learn about Eusebio Chacon's
two novels: El Hijo de la Tempestad (1892) and Tras la Tormenta la Calma (1892). A minyan of novels
(8 in English; 2 in Spanish) represented the efforts of Chicano writers and the art of the novel up to
1969. Over two dozen more were to follow in the decade of the 70's and scores more in the 80's,
bringing the total to more than a hundred (100) by 1990.
From the perspective of the 90's and three decades of Chicano literature it's easier to make reasonable
historical and critical assessments about Chicano writers and, say, the art of the novel. I say "the art of
the novel" rather than "the Chicano novel," for defining a "Chicano novel" is a matter of personal
judgment and perspective regardless of how elaborate or clever the explanation or criteria. The
persistent question remains: Is a Chicano novel one written by a Chicano? Since the term "Chicano" is
freighted with ideological charges and baggage, is a novel not similarly freighted by a Chicano writer
not a Chicano novel?
Some Chicano critics dismiss as Chicano novels certain works by Chicano writers because they are not
"movement" novels or don't address themselves to the social or political issues affecting Chicano
communi-ties or barrios. For example, in her commentary on the Chicano novel, Carlota Cardenas
Dwyer excludes as Chicano novels the works by Villarreal, Rechy, Salas, Barrio and
Vasquez on
grounds that in their novels these writers failed "to promote a specific social or political issue"
unequivocally Chicano. In like fashion Rafael Grajeda excludes the works of Villarreal and Vasquez in
his selection of Chicano novels on grounds that "the works do not confront clearly and honestly the
implications of their premises" which are, namely, that the central characters arrive at an understanding
and acceptance of themselves as Chicanos. In Pocho, for example, Richard Rubio goes off to lose
himself in that world of confusion described by Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzalez in his epic poem I am
Joaquin. The novel Chicano by Richard Vasquez is excluded by both Grajeda and Dwyer because it
suffers, as they explain, from excessive stereotype. For other Chicano critics, in order for a novel to
qualify as a Chicano novel the characters must be Chicanos in whatever setting the writer chooses.
Dwyer and Grajeda's distinctions are important, however idiosyncratically those distinctions are
applied. For example, there are Black writers who write Black novels with Black themes and peopled
by Black characters; but there are also Black writers who do not write Black novels. Frank Yerby, for
one. The same is true of Jewish writers. Not all of Saul Bellows' novels are Jewish novels. Thus, a novel
by a Chicano writer is not easily categorized. I'm reminded of the classic response by J. Saunders
Redding to a question about "the Black novel." He said, "Season it as you will, the thought that Black
Americans are different from other Americans is still unpalatable to most Blacks." I suspect that's also
true about Chicanos.
But there are many of us who argue that Chicano literature is so much of a piece that it has a distinctive
center of gravity as well as its own ground of being and therefore its own esthetic. Like Addison Gayles
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belief about Black literature, I too believed that Chicano literature, like Black literature, had
fundamental responsibilities to praise the people, identify the enemy, and promote the revolution. I am
not entirely dissuaded of that point of view even today, but there are norms and patterns in the novel by
Chicano writers that are common not just to mainstream American literature but to world literature as
well. Yet, the novels by Chicano writers are different, not because of innate Chicano characteristics but
because Chicano writers, by and large, have emerged from a distinctive group experience in the United
States. This is not to say that that experience is uniquely different. Most writers, I daresay, have emerged
from comparable group experiences: Jewish American writers, African American writers, and others.
While each group experience may be comparable (and thus not unique), the experiences of each group
are different. For instance Jewish Americans have not been slaves in the United States nor did their
ancestors lose a war to the United States. African Americans have not suffered religious pogroms nor
have they been prohibited from speaking their home language in the schools. Yet Jews, Blacks and
Chicanos have suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous bigotry, prejudice and discrimination in the
United States. But that is not enough to say that their group experience have been the same.
A piece of literature is not just a social act--it has cultural connotations that reveal a writer's relation to
his group and to the entire fabric of society. As a cultural manifestation, a literary work inheres a sense
of audience, its language (whether English, Spanish or a combination of both) is part of a
weltanschauung shared by a community of readers. In 1863 the literary critic, Taine, asserted that works
of literature wee to be understood by considering the interrelating factors of moment, race and milieu.
Thus, the significance of a literary work lies not only in the social reality in which a writer participates
but grows out of the culture which nourishes him or her. The novel, then, is both a literary manifestation
and a cultural artifact.
The assertion that a canonical perspective of Chicano literature was premature in 1970 negates the 122year-history of Chicano literary antecedents in the United States. For it is not "canon" that creates a body
of literature, but a body of literature that creates "canon." A hundred and twenty-two years of literary
production by Mexican Americans (not counting the centuries of literary production in the Mexican and
Spanish Southwest from 1519 to 1848) created a significant body of literature--antecedently Chicano
literature in every way--in need of canon defined by "contemporary" Chicano perspectives. That's what
Backgrounds of Mexican American Literature sought to do.
The Chicano renaissance was but a point of literary reference in the historical continuum of a diasporic
people and a manifestation, as well, of the maturity--a coming of age in the United States--of a
Mexican American literary consciousness. Importantly, at this point, is the need to register the caution
that Mexican American/Chicano literature is part and parcel of American literature and, therefore,
part and parcel of the American literary canon. While Chicano literature has historical, cultural and
linguistic ties to Mexican literature, the canonical significance of the former to American literature
cannot be ascertained by rummaging through the canon of Mexican literature like genetic testing for
paternity. Nor can that significance be plumbed by focusing on the cultural axis between Chicanos and
their Spanish literary heritage in the Southwest.
Both the Spanish Colonial period and the Mexican period of the Southwest shed light--considerable
light--on the roots of Chicano- literature. But we do not, for example, come to know anything more,
necessarily, about contemporary mainstream American writers by a diligent study or exposition of
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Colonial American letters. Colonial American literature informs us about Colonial American life and
culture. That we may find in the literary works of mainstream American writers the cultural values of
Colonial America simply attests to the strength of those values transmitted across the generations.
Writers produce in contexts of "moment" and "milieu" as Taine postulated. We cannot with absolute
clarity ascertain the influences of one generation of writers--several times removed--on another
generation of writers. There are no tests for that kind of literary paternity. What creates literary lineage
is "canon" and what shapes literary taste is "canon." What shapes American attitudes about the country
and its people are the canonical texts used in American education--especially anthologies of American
literature. That's how "canon" becomes important--it's the validating mechanism for acceptance.
For example, most anthologies of American literature include such figures as Anne Bradstreet (16131672), Benjamin Thompson (1610-1714), Edward Taylor (1642-1729), Thomas Godfrey (1736-1763),
Philip Frenau (1752-1832), and others. The list is extensive. Strictly speaking, these writers were
English citizens, British colonials in America. Yet, we include them in our chronology of American
literature. The point I want to make is that the colonial history if the United States was no more confined
to the Atlantic frontier than its history since 1776. In the American Southwest, Spanish colonials (later
Mexicans) were also making history, keeping diaries, maintaining journals, writing letters and creating
poetry. The literary impulse of the Hispanic American Southwest was much like that of the Anglo
American Northeast. For Americans today, the geography of the Southwest lies as secure in our national
identity as the geography of the Northeast. So, too, the literature and history of the Southwest should lie
as secure in our literary and historical identity as the literature and history of the Northeast. This
identity ought to include the colonial period of the Southwest in the making of America, just as it
includes the colonial period of the Northeast in that saga.
What qualifies one to be designated a Chicano writer? Nativity? Alurista, Octavio Romano and Ernesto
Galarza were all born in Mexico. Jorge Ulica was born in Mexico. Alurista, Romano and Galarza
came to the United States when very young. Ulica came when he was forty-five. Alurista, Romano and
Galarza came young enough to absorb American culture and be part
of the Mexican
American
experience as they matured in the United States. Ulica spent only eleven years in the United States, from
1915 to the time of his death in 1926. Is that a long-enough period of time to "absorb" American culture
and be part of the Mexican American experience? We say that the works of Alurista, Romano and
Galarza manifest a "Chicano consciousness." Does Ulica's? Some Chicano critics like Juan Rodriguez
say they do, emphasizing that point in his "Introduction" to Cronicas Diabolicas, a gathering of some of
Ulica's prose pieces published in Hispano-America, the newspaper he edited in San Francisco.
Though not of the United States, some writers like Villavicencio from Guadalajara, Mexico, have
appeared in Chicano journals and anthologies [El Espejo]. Other writers like Amado Muro [ne Chester
Seltzer] have "wormed" their way into Chicano literature fraudulently with works some critics call
"literatura Chicanesca." What about Ulica, though? Is he a Mexican American/Chicano writer? Are his
works part of Chicano literature? Ulica's pieces are indeed "gems" of a prose style that strikes one as
contemporary in tone and topic. Published originally in Spanish, they are humorous vignettes of the
"Mexican" experience in the United States between 1918 and 1926. Some critics have praised Ulica
highly, citing him as a precursor of the contemporary Chicano narrative style in Spanish; others have
called him vain, pompous, sarcastic and condescending; and his work, without merit deserving of
9

Chicano literature. The pieces in Cronicas Diabolicas are a genre of literature called "costumbrista" in
Spanish. In English, roughly the equivalent to a "comedy of manners" in which the narrator comments
on customs, mores and tastes of a group, oftentimes condescendingly and with broad strokes of farce
and jest, much like the works of Moliere. According to Arthur Ramirez, Ulica's pieces are
"pedestrian, hardly humorous, and produced by someone who exhibits a curious ambivalence toward
Americans and Mexican Americans. In Cronicas Diabolicas, Ulica tells us about Miss so-and-so and
Mrs. such-and-such and a little about Don Fulano de tal Mr. What's-his-name), much in the manner of
the Spanish novelist Galdos writing in the latter part of the 19th century about vidas ajenas. Ulica's
commentaries are mostly about "Mexican" [note the lower-case "m"] women, meaning "Mexican
American" women, for there was little linguistic or semantic difference then between Mexicans from
Mexico or Mexicans of the United States--Mexican Americans. Anyway, Ulica's commentaries are
mostly about "mexican" women, their cultural and linguistic apostasy, and their vainglorious efforts at
becoming Americans, swapping "mexican" husbands for gringos, Anglicizing their names, and mixing
Spanish and English barbarously in an idiom he derides as "pocho."
Women are the butt of his caustic "wit." Their children who speak more English than Spanish are the
object of his hauteur. Few of the men of the Hispanic community of San Francisco are subjected to his
rapier-like scrutiny as self-appointed keeper and arbiter of what is appropriate behavior for Mexicans of
the United States and for Mexicans in the United States. He makes no allowances for the process of
cultures and languages in contact. It's a wit callused perhaps by his upper-class status in Mexico.
Born in 1870, he published his first "paper" at age ten, studied pharmacy in Guadalajara, and turned to
journalism while a student there. In 1890 he started writing for El Correo de !a Tarde [The
EveningNews]of Guadalajara, and continued as a journalist until he died. An ardent Porfirista, in 1909
he opposed Francisco Madero's efforts to oust Porfirio Diaz who had
been "President" of Mexico for
35 years. By 1911 he was already dodging revolutionary forces which his anti-revolutionary stance had
ultimatly jailed him for.
In October of 1915 he fled Mexico in a boat bound for San Francisco. A month later he became editor of
La Cronica de San Francisco, a Spanish-language weekly serving the Mexican American community
there. His literary preferences may be best determined from a special issue of La Cronica in April of
1916 dedicated to Cervantes, the Spanish author of Don Quixote. Ulica left La Cronica in April of 1917
when it changed hands and returned to head it in 1919 when it changed its name to Hispano America.
Having suffered various heart attacks since 1914, Ulica died on November 15, 1926, eleven years after
coming to the United States. Was Ulica a Chicano writer? Should he be considered a Chicano writer?
Are his works Chicano works? Are they in the tradition of Chicano literature? Before taking up those
questions let us first review the following historical considerations.
Mariano Azuela, a medical doctor of the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1921, wrote Los de Abajo [The
Underclass], a novel about that struggle while living in El Paso, Texas, where he and other
revolutionaries holed up for a spell during a reversal of that conflict. Los de Abajo was first published
serially in the newspaper El Paso de Norte. Azuela spent less than 2 years in El Paso, and at the
opportune moment headed back into Mexico. After the Revolution he became one of Mexico's leading
literary figures. Do we think of Azuela as a Chicano writer? Should we regard him as a Chicano writer
Since Los de Abajo was written and published in the United States, is the work a Chicano literary effort?
10

Is it a Chicano novel? Should it be considered a Chicano novel? Had Azuela died in the United States
would that qualify him as a Chicano writer? And what about Ricardo Flores Magon, a Mexican exile in
the United States whose literary works were published in the United States between 1904 and 1927?
Garcia Lorca, the Spanish poet and playwright, wrote some of his best works in New York while in exile
from Spain and a refugee from the Spanish Civil War. Is his play, Blood Wedding, written then, an
American play? Is he considered an American writer? An American Hispanic writer? Jose Marti, the
Cuban writer also wrote and published some of his works in the United States while exiled from Cuba
in the 19th century. Is he regarded as an American writer? Should his works be considered part of
American literature because they were written and published in the United States?
Is Alexandre Scholtzenitzen an American writer or a Russian writer? Or is he a Russian writer who now
lives and writes (in Russian) in the United States? At what point will he be considered an
American writer? Or will he? Or should he? There is a strong tradition of literature by exiles in the
United States whose works are classified as "exilic literature." The majority of works by Cuban writers
who sought political refuge in this country fit that mold. Their works (in Spanish) continue in the literary
tradition of the country they fled. Can their works written in the United States be considered part of
American literature?
There is also in this country a strong tradition of "immigrant" literature--in Yiddish, German, Polish,
Italian, Spanish and other languages. Isaac Bashevis Singer's works, for example, are American
reflections of the "old world." Some of that literature seeks to put in perspective the experiences of
immigrants in the American context. Henry Roth's Call it Sleep, Pietro di Donato's Christ in Concrete,
Carlos Bulosan's America of the Heart are prime examples of these efforts. All are written in English.
Other writers like Ole Rolvaag (Norwegian born) lived in the United States and wrote in Norwegian
about the experiences of Norwegians in the United States (Giants in the Earth). Isaac Bashevis Singer
(Nobel Prize winner) lived in the United States and wrote in Yiddish. The works of both Rolvaag and
Singer have been translated into English for American readers. Both are considered American writers.
Evidently language does not (or should not) bar a writer from being considered an American writer as
Thomas M. Pearce championed in his courageous article "American Traditions and Our Histories of
Literature" published in American Literature (14:3), November 1942. Yet, looking for non-English
language American writers in the Cambridge Dictionary of American Literature, one does not find them
where they ought to be chronologically but in an appendix for non-English language writers.
Oddly, T.S. Eliot, born in the United States, lived and wrote in England and is considered a British
writer. Julian Green, on the other hand, an American who lived in France most of his adult life and
wrote in French is considered by the French as an American writer who lived in France and wrote in
French. In the United States he is not thought of as an American writer. Richard Wright and James
Baldwin, American Black wri-ters both of whom during their lives fled to France for a while and wrote
there, are considered American writers in the literary history of the United States.
We can see that literary identity and affiliation are not ''cut- and-dried" matters, easily resolved. Which
brings us back to Ulica. He may have come to the United States as a political refugee, a temporary
sojourner in the country, waiting for the "right" moment, like Azuela, to return to Mexico. But Ulica
was a Porfirista for whom Mexico held no benign amnesty. After the Revolution, the Porfirato was
dismantled in Mexico, latifundias (estates) appropriated, lands parceled to "peones'' and the wealth of
11

the "old class'' exchequered. There was nothing for Ulica to go back to. In failing health since J914, he
resigned himself to his life of exile and dedicated himself to writing, commenting on the foibles of his
"kinsmen" in the United States whom he regarded much in need of shepherding, much in need of
manners and morals to make them respectable Mexicans in the U.S.
Ulica was a playful fellow despite a strong streak of paternalism. He demonstrates this playfulness in
one of his estampas (humorous tales) written in July 1926, just months before he died. In the story, Ulica
weaves his linguistic "high brow" into a ribald tale of a "mexican woman," Socorro, who cuckolds her
husband with a gringo named Dark, much in the same vein as Chaucers Millers Tale. Where does
Ulica fit into the scheme of Chicano literature? I would locate Ulica's works in the tradition of
American ''immigrant literature," commenting on the morals, manners and language of Mexicans and
Mexican Americans of his time and place. He was not a Chicano writer, anymore than Arturo Campa
or Aurelio Espinosa--both contemporaries of Ulica--were Chicano writers. That designation belongs to
Mexican American writers of a later time. Ulica was not a Mexican American writer either, for he did
not write in the tradition of Mexican American Literature in Spanish. He wrote in the tradition of
Mexico of which he was still a citizen when he died. Espinosa and Campa, on the other hand, both
Mexican Americans, both wrote squarely in the tradition of Mexican American Literature in English.
This is not to say that Mexican American literature is a literature characterized by its use of English.
On the contrary, during the period Mario Garcia calls "the Conquest Generation of Transition
(1848-1912), Mexi-can American literature
was more Mexican than American--"more" I said, not
"entirely"written mostly in Spanish but accommodating an English-language thrust that became
dominant after 1912, the year New Mexico and Arizona were finally
admitted to the Union as
states after an acceptable shift of Spanish-language voters to English-language voters. 1912 marks the
beginning of the Mexican American period (or "generation," per Mario Garcia), when Mexicans of the
United States (Mexican Americans) began to think of themselves more as
Americans
than Mexicans. Its the period of LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) and the push for
Americanization. Its the period of two World Wars, various Latin American interventions and a Police
Action in Korea. Mexican Americans become military heroes, win more Congressional Medals of
Honor than any other ethnic group, fight for recognition of their military services to the United States,
organize the American G.I. Forum because a Mexican American World War II veteran is denied burial
in a municipal cemetery in Texas, go to college on the G.I. Bill, buy houses, pay taxes and agitate for
civil rights. The period lasts until 1960--the beginning of the Chicano Movement, the Chicano
generation, Chicano consciousness and the Chicano renaissance.
It is out of that consciousness that a need for Chicano literary history and canon emerges, and out of
which we search for the Ulicas to fill the lacunae of Chicano literature. As I said, much of that literature
was written in Spanish between 1848 and 1912; much more in English from 1912 to the present. Some
Chicano literary analysts, like Rosaura Sanchez have suggested that the "major literary works in
Chicano literature'' are those written in Spanish. If that's so, where does that leave the English-languageworks of Rudy Anaya, Ray Barrio, Ron Arias, Richard Vasquez, Arturo Islas, Nash Candelaria, Oscar
Zeta Acosta and others? The fact of the matter is that some of the major literary works in Chicano
literature are written in Spanish, some in English, and some in binary productions reflecting the realities
of Chicano life as an American-grown product and as a transborder phenomenon.

12

Like the British roots in the new American soil, the Hispanic literary roots yielded a vigorous and
dynamic body of literature which unfortunately has been studied historically as part of a foreign
enterprise rather than as part and parcel of the American literary heritage. What we can accurately say
about Chicano literature is that it's a literature in process, drawing from two distinct literary traditions
(Mexican and American), sometimes solely from one or the other, sometimes in a unique synthesis of
both that is truly startling and innovative. To shackle it so young with critical fetters of propensities and
velleities is to stifle it aborning. It will emerge as it emerges. And what we find of its predecessors,
here and there, in the nooks and crannies of lofts and attics, dust-covered bins of libraries, yellowed
pages of old newspapers, we welcome as prospects for a more complete background of Chicano
literature and its canon; and, ultimately, the American literary canon.

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MEXICAN AMERICAN / CHICANO LITERATURE:


ROOTS AND TRADITIONS
By Felipe de Ortego y Gasca
While Chicano Literature is identified as such only since the Chicano Renaissance (1966-1975), the literary tradition
of Mexican Americans stretches back to the beginning of the major civilizations in the Americas (Aztecs, Olmecs,
Toltecs, Mayas). The literature of Pre-Columbian Mexico is as much part of Mexican America as the Medieval
literature of England is part of Anglo-America. This approach divides Chicano Literature into two periods: (1) Roots
and (2) Traditions.

ROOTS
I. AUTOCHTHONOUS MEXICAN ROOTS / SPANISH PENINSULAR ROOTS (0000-1521)
The works of this period are antecedently part of the literary roots of Mexican Americans. The book of Chilam Balam
and the Popul Vuh, works of the Americas before Colon and Cortez, are as important to Mexican Americans as are, for
example, El Cid or Don Quixote. This period reveals how these two literary roots figured in the development of
Mexican literature and how, in turn, they have influenced Mexican American literature.
II. SPANISH COLONIAL ROOTS (1521-1821)
This period includes those works of the Spanish Colonial presence in Mexico and what is now the Hispanic Southwest
of the United States, works of the period whose focus deals not with Mexico but with some part of what is now the
United States, comparable to the works of the British Colonial period (1607-1776) which are now considered
American literature.
III. MEXICAN NATIONAL ROOTS (1821-1848)
Continuation of the previous period except that the geography of the above is now controlled by the Republic of
Mexico. The focus here is on literary production in what is now the American Southwest before 1848, the northern
Mexican borderlands.

TRADITIONS
IV. EARLY MEXICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE: The Period of Transition (1848-1912)
Just as American literature really begins in 1776, so too Mexican American literature begins in 1848 with the Treaty
of Guadalupe Hidalgo (February 2) and the American acquisition of Mexican territory (now comprising the American
Southwest) and the inhabitants of the severed territory. This is a period of transition for Mexicansnow Americans
towards a bilingual and bicultural lifestyle reflected in their literaturethe literature of the Conquest Generation.
V. LATER MEXICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE: The Period of Americanization (1912-1960)
The beginnings of this period (the Modern period of Mexican American literature) coincide roughly with the
beginning of the Mexican Civil War (1910-1921) and the exodus of one-and-a-half million Mexicans to the United
States. In this period, Mexican American literature, the literature of the Assimilationist Generation, is characterized
more by its pastoral impulse than by its efforts to come to terms with the realities of Mexican American existence.
VI. THE CONTEMPORARY PERIOD AND THE CHICANO RENAISSANCE (1960-Present)
Publication of Pocho (1959) marks the beginning of the Chicano period of Mexican American literature, writing
characterized by a stridency drawn from the Chicano Movement (1960). The appearance of El Grito: Journal of
Mexican American Thought in 1967 marks the beginning of the Chicano Renaissance. The Quinto Sol writers are
regarded as the vanguard of this literary movement.

CHICANO / MEXICAN AMERICAN WRITERS


AND
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THE ART OF THE NOVEL


Mexican American Fiction and the Beginnings of the Novel
1872
1885
1892
1896
1924
1928
1938
1945
1947
1959

Who Would Have Thought it? by Maria Amparo de Burton (Lippincot)


The Squatter and the Don by Maria Amparo de Burton (Carson & Company)
El Hijo de la Tempestad by Eusebio Chacon (Boletin Popular)
Tras la Tormenta la Calma by Eusebio Chacon (Boletin Popular)
Vicente Silva y sus 40 Bandidos by Manuel C. de Baca
Eustacia y Carlota by Felipe M.Chacon
Las Aventuras de Don Chipote by Daniel Venegas (Arte Publico 1984)
Conchita Arguello by Aurelio Espinosa (Macmillan)
Mexican Village by Josephina Niggli (University of North Carolina Press)
Step Down, Elder Brother by Josephina Niggli (Rinehart)
Pocho by Jose Antonio Villarreal (Doubleday)
The First Chicano Decade: 1960-1969--Early Efforts I

1960
1963
1966
1967
1969

The Lady From Toledo by Fray Angelico Chavez (Academy Guild)


City of Night by John Rechy (Grove Press)
Unscaled Fortress by Antonio Serna Candelaria (Bennett)
Numbers by John Rechy (Grove Press)
Tattoo the Wicked Cross by Floyd Salas (Grove Press)
This Days 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
1971

1972

1973

1974

1975

1976

Chicano by Richard Vasquez (Doubleday)


Return to Ramos by Leo Cardenas (Hill & Wang)
Y no se lo Trago la Tierra by Thomas Rivera (Quinto Sol)
Blessing From Above by Arthur Tenorio (West Las Vegas, NM, School Press)
The Vampires by John Rechy (Grove Press)
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)
The Revolt of the Cockroach People by Oscar Acosta (Straight Arrow Books)
Macho by Edmund Villaseor (Bantam Books)
Estampas del Valle by Rolando Hinojosa (Quinto Sol)
Peregrinos de Aztlan by Miguel Mendez (Editorial Peregrinos)
Two Ranges by Robert Medina (Bronson)
The Fifth Horseman by Jose Antonio Villarreal (Doubleday)
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)
Nambe--Year One by Orlando Romero (Tonatiuh)
Klail City y sus Alrededores by Rolando Hinojosa (Casa de las Americas)
15

1977

1978

1979

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 Devils Apple Crops by Raymond Barrio (Ventura)
Chicano, Go Home by Tomas Lopez (Exposition Press)
Pachuco Mark by Rudolph Melendez (Grossmount)
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)
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)
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)
Death of an Anglo by Alejandro Morales (
The Third Chicano Decade: 1980-1989--Later Works

1980
1981

1982

1983

1984

The Aguila Family by Tomas Lopez (Mexican American Publictions)


Pachuco By Dennis Rodriguez (Holloway)
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)
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 Doa Elena by Katherine Quintana Ranck (Tonatiuh)
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)
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)
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1985

1986

1987
1988

1989

Adventures of the Chicano Kid by Max Martinez


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 Pieda (Penguin)
Inheritance of Strangers by Nash Candelaria (Bilingual Press)
Puppet, Margarita Cota-Cardenas
The Mixquiahuala Letters by Ana Castillo (Bilingual Press)
Trini by Estela Portillo (Bilingual Press)
Claros Varones de Belken by Rolando Hinojosa (Bilingual Press)
El Sueo de Santa maria de las Piedras by Miguel Mendez (Univ. Guadalajara)
The Little Death by Michael Nava
A Shroud in the Family by Lionel Garcia (Arte Publico)
Rainbows End by Genaro Gonzalez (Arte Publico)
The Brick People by Alejandro Morales (Arte Publico)
Death of an Anglo by Alejandro Morales (Bilingual Press)
Delias Song by Lucha Corpi (Arte Publico)
Schoolland by Max Martinez (Arte Publico)
Oddsplayer by Joe Rodriguez (Arte Publico)
Goldenboy by Michael Nava
Marilyns 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

1991
1992

1993

1994

Hardscrub by Lionel Garcia (Arte Publico)


Intaglio by Roberta Fernandez
George Washington Gomez by Americo Paredes (Arte Publico)
Howtown by Michael Nava
The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez by John Rechy(Arcade)
Eulogy for a Brown Angel by Lucha Corpi
Rain of Gold by Victor Villaseor (Arte Publico)
Albuquerque by Rudolfo Anaya
The Hidden Law by Michael Nava
So Far From God, Ana Castillo (Norton)
In Search of Bernabe by Graciela Limn (Arte Publico Press)
The Ballad of Rocky Ruiz by Manuel Ramos (St. Martins Press)
Happy Birthday, Jesus by Ronald Ruiz (Arte Publico)
The Candy Vendors 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 Acua by Dagoberto Gilb
The Ballad of Gato Guerrero by Manuel Ruiz (St. Martins Press)
17

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

La Maravilla by Alfredo Vea, Jr. (Dutton)


Dogs from Illusion by Charley Trujillo (Chusma)
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)
The Death of Friends by Michael Nava
Rio Grande Falls by Rudolfo Anaya
Caballero by Jovita Gonzalez & Eve Raleigh
The Coming of the Night by John Rechy (Grove Press)
Gulf Dreams by Emma Perez (Third Woman Press)
Breaking Even by Alejandro Grattan-Dominguez
A Message from the Desert by Rudolfo Anaya
The House of Forgetting by Benjamin Alire Saenz
The Aztec Love God by Tony Diaz (Fiction Collective 2)
The Burning Plain by Michael Nava
Giuseppe Rocco by Ronald Ruiz (Arte Publico Press)
The Day of the Moon by Graciela Limn (Arte Publico Press)
Sor Juana's Second Dream by Alicia Gaspar de Alba (University of NM Press)
The 21st Century--Millennial Vistas
The Fifth Chicano Decade 2000-2009: Post-Colonial Voices

2000
2001
2002
2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Between Dances by Erasmo Guerra (Painted Leaf Press)


Rag and Bone by Michael Nava
Loving Pedro Infante by Denise Chavez (Washington Square Press)
Let Their Spirits Dance by Stella Pope Duarte (Harper Collins)
Drift by Manuel Luis Martinez (Picador Press)
Sofias Saints by Diana Lopez (Bilingual Review Press)
The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens by John Rechy (Grove Press)
The Big Bear by Ronald Ruiz (Arte Publico)
Dark Eclipse: Rise of an Era by Christopher M. Salas (One Level Higher)
Playing with Boys by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez (Macmillan)
Parrot in the Oven by Victor Martinez (Harper Collins)
Beneath the Skin by John Rechy (Carroll & Graf)
Our House on Hueco by Carlos Flores (Texas Tech University Press)
The Color of Law by Mark Gimenez (Anchor Books)
The Hummingbirds Daughter by Luis Urrea (Little Brown/Time Warner)
Erased Faces by Graciela Limn (Arte Publico Press)
Desert Blood: The Jurez Murders by Alicia Gaspar de Alba (Arte Publico Press)
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
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)
18

2008

2009

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 Limn (Arte Publico Press)
Brotherhood of the Light by Ray Michael Baca, (Floricanto Press)
The Flowers by Dagoberto Gilb (Grove Press)
Dead is so Last Year by Marlene Perez (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Suzanna by Irene Blea (Floricanto Press)
For Nadines Love: A Warriors Quest by Roberto de Haro (Booksurge)
Forgetting the Alamo, Or, Blood Memory, by Emma Perez (Univ of Tx Press)
The Sixth Chicano Decade 2010-2019: Still Searching for America

2010
2011

2012

2013
2014

Crossing Over Water by Richard Yaez (University of Nevada)


Randy Lopez Goes Home, by Rudolfo Anaya (University of Oklahoma Press)
The Mystery of Lawlessness by Alberto Ramon (Universe Press)
This Wicked Patch of Dust by Sergio Troncoso (Camino del Sol)
Tree of Sighs by Lucrecia Guerrero (Bilingual Press)
Terror on the Border by J. Gilberto Quezada (Publish America)
The Book of Want by Daniel Olivas (University of Arizona Press)
The Block Captains Daughter by Demetria Martinez (University of Oklahoma Press)
Ghost by R. A. Pea (Tate Publishing)
Pig Behind the Bear by Maria Nieto (Floricanto Press)
The City of Palaces by Michael Nava
King of the Chicanos by Manuel Ramos (Wingspress)
Copyright 2012 by the author. All rights reserved.

Historia Chicana
Mexican American Studies
University of North Texas
Denton, Texas

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