Kirkus Reviews QR Code
NEPANTLA FAMILIAS by Sergio Troncoso Kirkus Star


An Anthology of Mexican American Literature on Families in Between Worlds

edited by Sergio Troncoso

Pub Date: April 2nd, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-62349-963-1
Publisher: Texas A&M Univ.

An anthology featuring Mexican American writers negotiating life in between cultures.

In an anthology that feels long overdue, Troncoso gathers 30 Mexican American writers to relate their accounts of what it means to be an American or, more often, what it means to not feel fully American. The anthology, which is divided into fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, contains mostly never-before-published works woven together by the common thread of “nepantla,” a Nahuatl word that means “mutual place” or the “in-between.” Alex Espinoza discusses being rejected due to his queerness, viewing his experience through the lens of machismo and alcoholism, two powerful forces that he notes often exist in tandem. In a short story, feminist poet ire’ne lara silva explores the concept of “crossing over” in Mexican culture, both literally (to the U.S.) and in the afterlife, while Octavio Quintanilla’s short poem conveys the fear of law enforcement that can often haunt immigrants long after they arrive in America as well as the constant threat of deportation. The liminal spaces in which these moving, sometimes heart-wrenching stories take place range from the geographical to the metaphysical. Often, the literal borders erected to keep out Mexican migrants become metaphors for a deeper struggle to find the meanings of us and them. Many of the writers express a frustration at being either “too Mexican” or “not Mexican enough." The rejection from both sides foments a desire to belong to something uniquely apart from either, giving birth to a diaspora that embraces the idea of existing in several worlds. “The either/or proposition that forces you to choose between your community and, say, your country has never been true,” Troncoso writes in the introduction. “The very skills we learn to cross borders within ourselves help us to cross borders toward others outside our community.” Other contributors include Sandra Cisneros, Reyna Grande, Francisco Cantú, and Stephanie Elizondo Griest.

A deeply meaningful collection that navigates important nuances of identity.