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Classical 91.7-Arte Público Author of the Month: Sergio Troncoso

Sergio Troncoso has been selected as this month's Classical 91.7/Arte Público Press Author of the Month. In the next installment of a series of monthly features, Classical 91.7's Eric Ladau spoke with Mr. Troncoso.


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“On good days I feel I am a bridge. On bad days I just feel alone,” acclaimed author Sergio Troncoso writes in his thought-provoking new collection, Crossing Borders: Personal Essays.

Raised in a home steps from the Mexican border in El Paso, the author crossed what seemed an impossible boundary when he left home to attend Harvard College. Initially, “outsider status” was thrust upon him; later, he adopted it willingly, writing about the Southwest and Chicanos in an effort to communicate who he was and where he came from to those unfamiliar with his childhood world. He wrote to maintain his ties to his parents and his abuelita, and to fight against the elitism he experienced at an Ivy League school. “I was torn,” he writes, “between the people I loved at home and the ideas I devoured away from home.”

Troncoso writes to preserve his connections to the past, but he puts pen to paper just as much for the future. In his three-part essay entitled “Letter to My Young Sons,” he documents the terror of his wife’s breast cancer diagnosis and the ups and downs of her surgery and treatment. Other essays convey the joys and frustrations of fatherhood, his uneasy relationship with his elderly father and the impact his wife’s Jewish heritage and religion have on his Mexican-American identity.

In these sixteen personal essays, Troncoso seeks to connect the humanity of his Mexican family to people he meets on the East Coast, including his wife’s Jewish kin; his writings challenge assumptions about literature, the role of writers in America, fatherhood and family, and poverty. His reflections reveal a man who has crossed linguistic, cultural and intellectual borders. In Crossing Borders, Troncoso writes about sacrifice, commitment and honesty with the deepest faith in humanity.

Sergio Troncoso is the author of The Nature of Truth (Northwestern University Press, 2003) and The Last Tortilla and Other Stories (University of Arizona Press, 1999), which won the Premio Aztlán and the Southwest Book Award. A new novel, From This Wicked Patch of Dust, is forthcoming from University of Arizona Press in October of 2011. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and two graduate degrees, in international relations and philosophy, from Yale University. He lives and works in New York City.

Arte Público Press is the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by U.S. Hispanic authors.  Its imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, is dedicated to the realistic and authentic portrayal of the themes, languages, characters, and customs of Hispanic culture in the United States. Based at the University of Houston, Arte Público Press, Piñata Books and the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage project provide the most widely recognized and extensive showcase for Hispanic literary arts and creativity.  For more information, please visit