Author Archive

Is Chicana/o Literature Dead? (A: No, not really): A Teacher’s Ramblings

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It used to be that I didn’t know what Chicana/o literature was. Sometimes I still think I don’t, which is embarrassing because I teach classes on Chicana/o lit. The dictionary definition is easy—it’s been studied, chronicled, crystalized–and I can easily think of my heroes: Helena Maria Viramontes, Dagoberto Gilb,

The New Generation of Gay Latino Poets

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Some scholars say that Queer Latina/o writing is fast becoming a major core of the Latina/o literary canon. I say it’s the future of the canon altogether, with some of the most exciting, intelligent, and provocative American writing coming from the disciples of such luminaries as Cherríe Moraga, Rigoberto González,

Voice and Chorus: Cristina Henriquez and “The Book of Unknown Americans”

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I saw Cristina Henriquez read just a few weeks ago at Book Court in Brooklyn, where my poet buddy, Sally Wen Mao, took me after a long day in the city. Generally, I’m horrible at readings.  I’m the guy seated in the front row, probably running on three hours of

Huizache: The Biggest Little Secret in Texas

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As far as literary journal subscriptions go, I only maintain three. I’m one of those writers, and for my sins I mostly miss the great early pieces of writers I come to love years later. This is especially true of new Latina/o writers, who I think most people miss

Read Like a Baller

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It must have been April when I looked at my calendar and decided that my summer was going to be an absolute wash.  This month alone, there’s the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup Finals, the French Open, and the World Cup happening almost simultaneously. And as avid sports fan,

POC vs PLOT: The MFA, Chipotle Cups, and Narratives We Crave

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By now it seems everyone’s read Junot Diaz’s MFA vs POC blog on the New Yorker website. Even my freshmen at Cornell these days say to me, “Dan, was it really like that?” Usually I just shrug in response. I was a notorious recluse in my MFA. I had a girlfriend—now fiancé—in New

Burnt Memories: Reading Gabriel García Márquez in Texas

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It took every fiber of me not to rattle off a quick ditty about Gabo the night after he passed.  I tried, of course, but then where do you stop? Fifteen thousand words? Twenty? In this digital age you’re late even if only by a day, which seemed appropriate

Unburied Memories: A Tiny Interview with Carlos Villacorta Gonzáles

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My newest literary kick is immersing myself in literature from Latin America that hasn’t been translated to English yet. Reading outside of the American canon, you learn new tricks and new ways of cutting familiar narratives—but if you’re lucky you learn a new kind of reading altogether.

Las Damas: The New Generation of Latina Writers

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A student of mine asked the other day if Latinos still wrote. He was dead serious. And by the reddening at the tops of his ears I could tell it was a completely sincere question, a bold one with all of the shame that fills the liminal space between

The Newest Big Thing From Latin America

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Every once in awhile a book comes across my desk that I read and can’t believe hasn’t blown up bigger already. Jennifer Clement’s Prayers for the Stolen is the thing I’m big on right now, a novel about the dangers of being a girl in contemporary Narco Mexico, narrated