Author Archive

Juan Villoro’s “The Guilty” Decenters What It Means To Be Mexican

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Last month I found myself in the gardening section of a German supermarket where, on sale, I came across Mexican-themed cacti. Tiny, impossibly hairy things with googly eyes and black moustaches and pastel colored sombreros made of clay. Typical German kitsch. “That looks like my uncle Mario,” I thought.

Reading Elena Poniatowska’s LA NOCHE DE TLATELOLCO Amid The Oaxaca Teacher Protests

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In the news this morning a picture flashed on my screen like a scene ripped directly from Elena Poneiatowska’s La Noche de Tlatelolco, a book that I teach from time to time about the ’68 student massacre in Mexico City.

DIY: A Tiny Interview With Ruben Quesada

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It's a little known secret that Ruben Quesada is quietly responsible for the promotion and community infrastructure that so many contemporary Latina/o writers enjoy today. As an editor, he plays a direct role in outlets such as Codex Journal, The Cossack Review, Cobalt Review, and Luna Luna Magazine.

The Argonauts Is A Direct Descendant Of Anzaldua’s Borderlands/La Frontera And No One Is Talking About It

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On my desk, Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts and Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands/La Frontera sit one atop the other. I didn’t plan it that way. It just sort of happened like that—I read one and then I read the other. It wasn’t until this week, when I was leafing through them

On Being A Writer With A Super Common Name or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Google

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My name is Daniel Peña, I’m a writer, and there are other Daniel Peñas messin’ up my Google results. It’s annoying and I’m against it. To ground us, let me tell you who they are: One Daniel Peña is an incredible twelve year old boy who showed me up

“Are Mexican-American Writers Obligated To Write About Donald Trump?” A Brown Dude Explains

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I’ve written exactly one thing on Donald Trump. One piece felt like enough at the time—Got him!—though as a Mexican-American writer, I find myself wondering how many ways one could/should write about the phenomenon that is the rise of Trump and contemporary populist American bigotry. I’ve wondered too is

Octavia Butler’s Notebook Represents All The Anxieties Of Writers Of Color

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  On its blog last week, the Huntington Library released previously unseen photographs of some of the late Octavia Butler’s papers, which the library catalogued after Butler’s untimely death nearly ten years ago. Included in the collection are some of Butler’s early science fiction stories, contracts, drafts, and notebooks,

The Humanities Are Not In Crisis: Two Writers Whose Pens Shape the Arab World

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I just got back from MLA 2016, the annual Modern Language Association conference in which every year (every city) you’ll hear a variation of this same question at least five times a day: Are the humanities still relevant? That is, of course, the general anxiety that underwrites so many

Deliberate Accidents of Discovery: The Trouble With Finding New Latina/o Writers

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In an exercise of radical honesty I’ll share this with you: I almost always find great new Latina/o writing by accident. I think part of this is my pell-mell strategy of finding new books (at literary events, on coffee tables, etc.) though part of it can be attributed to

The Paris Attacks And The Shared Humanity Of Central American Poetry

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I always get my hair cut when I’m in Mexico City. I have weird hair and a barber who knows how to cut it. He’s the kind of barber that slick-slacks his scissors between snips, between syllables too so that when he talks—about sports, cars, the news, anything—his speech