Houston Matters

An ‘Essential’ Time for Latino Stories

Ahead of this weekend’s LibroFEST, writer Christopher Flakus discusses the burgeoning Chicano literature scene in Houston.

Christopher Miguel Flakus
Houston writer Christopher Miguel Flakus.

Houston writer Christopher Flakus focuses much of his writing on the experience of being bicultural and belonging to multiple places. He grew up in Mexico City but has spent much of his life in the United States. He says he feels like a citizen of the world.

His story is like that of many Houstonians who hail from other countries – or whose families immigrated here before they were born – who feel a connection to both their current home and the home of their ancestry.

Those elements show up in the novel he’s currently writing, called Up Jumped the Devil. The main character is a bicultural man named Marco who’s originally from Mexico City. He immigrated with his family to Houston and hasn’t been back to Mexico City for some 20 years.

Marco’s a recovering alcoholic, and his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor goes missing while on a mission trip in Mexico City. So, Marco and a fellow AA member use their limited means to go there to try and find him. In the process, they see how Mexico has changed since the drug war escalated.

Flakus says his novel and stories like it are examples of the burgeoning realm of Chicano literature – work by writers from Mexico and of Mexican descent. He says, for many years, Chicano lit wasn’t as recognized as some work from other Latin-American countries. However, he feels it has become much more legitimized in recent years with the emergence of numerous Chicano writers, with the attention drawn to immigration issues, and with the appointment of Juan Felipe Herrera as U.S. Poet Laureate, who served from 2015 to 2017. Flakus says it’s “an essential time” for stories like his novel to be told.

Flakus is one of several Houston-based writers participating in LibroFEST, the annual festival celebrating Latino literature and culture, on Saturday, Sept. 29, from noon to 3 p.m. at the Barbara Bush Literacy Plaza at Houston Public Library’s Central location (500 McKinney Street).

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