My next novel, The Last Great Road Bum, tells the story of a real-life American adventurer and hero: Joe Sanderson, a son of Urbana, Illinois who fought and died with a Salvadoran rebel army. It will be published by FSG/MCD June 2020. Over the course of twenty years, Sanderson traveled the world as a "road bum," seeing wars and revolutions first-hand in Vietnam, Korea, Nigeria, and elsewhere. The Last Great Road Bum is based largely on his letters to his mother.
Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine is published by FSG/Picador in the U.S. It tells the true story of the men trapped underground in Chile in 2010.
Deep Down Dark was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; A New York Times Notable Book; finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; winner of a California Book Award; a Publisher's Weekly Best Book of the Year; and a New York Times Best Seller.
The Barbarian Nurseries examines the class and ethnic divide in modern Southern California. It was a New York Times Notable Book; and a winner of the California Book Award Gold Medal for Fiction. The Times Literary Supplement called The Barbarian Nurseries “virtuosic,” and The Los Angeles Review of Books described it as “a novel about Los Angeles, and maybe the finest we’ll see for many years.”
The Tattooed Solider, my first novel, is set against the backdrop of modern-day Los Angeles and the scorched-earth war in 1980s Guatemala. It first sold to a small press in 1998, was later picked up by Penguin as a paperback, and has since become part of the canon of Latino writing in the United States; it is widely read in American universities. The Tattooed Solider was recently published in French (as Jaguar) and FSG/Picador now publishes it in a new paperback edition. Publishers Weekly called it "a gripping tale of revenge set on the lowest rung of L.A.'s social ladder" and "a novel of power and weight."
Translation Nation: Defining a New American Identity in the Spanish-Speaking United States is a work of literary nonfiction published by Riverhead Books. It documents the spread of Latino cultural and civic institutions across the United States. The New York Times called it “a triumph of observation” that “crosswires de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America with Che Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries.”
And speaking of books, here are my literary heroes: Some of them, at least. Clockwise, from upper left: Roberto Bolaño, David Foster Wallace, Clarice Lispector, Derek Walcott, Nadine Gordimer. Center: Sylvia Beach and James Joyce