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Sergio Troncoso

Sergio Troncoso was born in El Paso, Texas and now lives in New York City. After graduating from Harvard College, he was a Fulbright Scholar to Mexico and studied international relations and philosophy at Yale University. Troncoso was inducted into the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s Alumni Hall of Fame and the Texas Institute of Letters. He is a resident faculty member of the Yale Writers’ Conference.

Troncoso is the author of five books. He co-edited Our Lost Border: Essays on Life amid the Narco-Violence (2013), a collection of essays on  ...See more >


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"Troncoso is clearly adept at his craft, telling a story filled with rich language and the realities of family life....Troncoso’s novel is an engaging literary achievement. ---Kirkus Reviews (starred review)"

Kirkus Reviews


AWARDS, PRESS & INTERESTS

Kirkus Star: FROM THIS WICKED PATCH OF DUST

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2012: FROM THIS WICKED PATCH OF DUST

Southwest Book Award, Border Regional Library Association, 2012: FROM THIS WICKED PATCH OF DUST

Premio Aztlan Literary Prize, 1999: THE LAST TORTILLA: AND OTHER STORIES

Bronze Award for Essays by ForeWord Reviews, 2012: Crossing Borders: Personal Essays

Interview on New Letters on the Air with Angela Elam, 2013

KTEP interview on Perspectives with Louie Saenz, 2013

Words on a Wire interview with Benjamin Alire Saenz and Daniel Chacon, 2013

Conversation with C.M. Mayo and Sergio Troncoso, 2012

Hometown El Paso, Texas


BOOKS REVIEWED BY KIRKUS:

Pub Date:
ISBN: 978-1-55885-752-0
Page count: 280pp

What has been lost is not a political boundary line between the United States and Mexico, but a 60-mile-wide cultural area above and below that line; the issues raised by the voices here reflect how and why that border has become a zone of fear, violence and bloody murder.

Cortez (Walking Home: Growing Up Hispanic in Houston, 2010, etc.) and Troncoso (Crossing Borders: Personal Essays, 2011, etc.) are writers and academics now living in Houston and New York City respectively, but both are deeply familiar with the border. They have divided their anthology into a journalistic portion titled “The Tortured Landscape,” in which four reports appear once in their original Spanish and then in an English translation, and a subjective section titled “The Personal Stories,” which includes eight essays, two by the editors describing the losses suffered by them, their friends and their families. The judgments of Mexico are harsh, with one writer asserting that “what we see now is a ‘result of a society that has been rotting for many years.’ ” The words “corruption,” “bribery” and “greed” occur over and over again, and both the government and the populace are described as passive and even complicit in the monstrous narcotics trade. Turf wars between drug cartels are unbelievably brutal, with torture, beheading and disemboweling seemingly everyday occurrences, leaving desolate such cities as Juarez and Tijuana. Nightly shootings, kidnappings, robberies and the discovery of mass graves—all these and more have put an end to a once-thriving tourist industry and a rich cultural exchange between those living on either side of the boundary. Where there were once bridges, there are now high walls. Some mention is made of the United States as the consumer of the drugs and the supplier of arms to the warring drug cartels, but this is primarily Mexico’s story, and it is a bitter one.

A tough but eye-opening read.

FICTION & LITERATURE
Pub Date:
ISBN: 978-0816530045
Page count: 229pp

Troncoso tells the story of a Mexican-American family as they come to terms with their cultural heritage over a span of 40 years.

The new novel from Troncoso (Crossing Borders, 2011, etc.) follows Cuauhtémoc and Pilar Martinez and their four children in the border town of Ysleta, Texas. As the children grow up, they feel the pull of their parents’ love for Mexico and the opposing force of their own identities in America. Cuauhtémoc is able to retire early from working as a draftsman and travels with his wife, living off the income from the apartments owned by the family. Pilar, a Catholic mother who is stern but instills strong values in her children, is a hardworking housewife who sold Avon to help with the bills. However, she worries that she hasn’t done enough to fill her children with her beliefs: “Pilar was overcome with incredible sadness. Why had her children abandoned the church? Why had they become like grains of sand scattered throughout the desert?” The oldest, Julia, becomes Aliyah, converting to Islam and moving to Tehran with her husband and three children. Francisco is overweight and attending community college but works tirelessly at the apartments, playing the role of the good son. Marcos becomes a teacher and a member of the Army Reserve, marrying a white woman and living near his family in Ysleta. Ismael, the youngest, goes to Harvard and marries a Jewish woman, escaping the confines of his home in Texas only to meet with the labors of life as a man torn between his duties as a husband and his aspirations as a writer. Troncoso seamlessly intertwines the struggles the grown children face with their parents’ desire to help them become independent and proud Mexican-Americans. The prose is powerful in an unassuming way, making for a captivating read. The author carefully paces the book, with each chapter plotting an era in the family’s lives, ultimately joining the family’s collective narrative of religion and family obligation with the current events of the time. Troncoso is clearly adept at his craft, telling a story filled with rich language and the realities of family life and closing with a son reassuring his mother and literature reassuring them both.

With its skillful pairing of conflict over religious and familial obligations with the backdrop of a Mexican-American family’s love for one another, Troncoso’s novel is an engaging literary achievement.

 

Pub Date:
ISBN: 0-8165-1960-9
Page count: 240pp

paper 0-8165-1961-7 The Last Tortilla ($40.00; paper $17.95; Sept. 3; 240 pp.; 0-8165-1960-9; paper 0-8165-1961-7). A debut collection of 13 stories dealing with El Paso’s often impoverished, invariably feisty Mexican-American populace. Troncoso’s immensely lifelike characters include “Tuyi, the fat boy everybody ignored,” in an unusually inventive coming-of-age tale (“The Snake”), an elderly grandmother (“The Abuelita”), whose undimmed zest for life implicitly rebukes her grandson’s scholarly pessimism, and a college student aglow with memories of the older Mexican woman whose “unabashed Bohemian warmth” sweetly overpowered him. Though sometimes slightly overexplicit, Troncoso’s wistful, endearingly romantic tales vividly dramatize the inherent richness of even subsistence-level lives. He’s a respecter of persons, and in turn his characters earn your affection and respect.

ADDITIONAL WORKS AVAILABLE:

CROSSING BORDERS: PERSONAL ESSAYS
Essays

Crossing Borders: Personal Essays is a collection of personal essays about fatherhood, interfaith marriage, breast cancer and families, poverty, literacy, and education.

Published:
ISBN: 978-1558857100
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THE NATURE OF TRUTH
Fiction

The Nature of Truth is a philosophical novel about a Yale research student who discovers that his boss, a renowned professor, hides a Nazi past.

Published:
ISBN: 978-0810119918
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From This Wicked Patch of Dust, by Sergio Troncoso