Crimes of the Tongue: Essays and Stories(Arte Público Press, 2023)
From the back cover: A native of the El Paso/Ciudad Juárez region, acclaimed author and scholar Alicia Gaspar de Alba writes that she grew up with "a forked tongue and a severe case of cultural schizophrenia, the split in the psyche that happens to someone who grows up in the borderlands between nations, languages and cultures."
Border dwellers struggle with place and identity in the short fiction in this collection. An El Paso-born American citizen with a high school diploma and a talent for writing seeks a job as a reporter at the El Paso Herald after World War I but gets hired as a janitor and "research specialist" instead. A Mexican woman takes her young daughter north to protect her from sexual abuse, only to leave the girl with relatives while she crosses the rivers in search of a job and a new life. And a college sudent gets a Tarot reading to help her discern the historical symbolism of her bicultural identity.
The award-winning writer explores other "crimes of the tongue" in the essays: pochismo, of the mixing of English and Spanish, as both a family taboo and a politics of identity; the haunting memory of La Llorona, protector of undocumented immigrants and abandoned children, and her blood-curling cry of loss and revenge; the intersection of the personal and the political in the transgressive work of Chicana/Latina artists; the sexual and linguistic rebellions of La Malinche and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz; and the reverse coyotaje, or border crossing, of Chicana lesbian feminist theory translated into Spanish and visual art as a way of sneaking this counterhegemonic pocha poetics into Mexico. These essays and stories are always intellectually rigorous and often achingly personal.
The Curse of the Gypsy: Ten Stories and a Novella (Arte Público Press, 2018)
From the back cover: Mysteries and furtive desires pervade the enthralling stories in this group of ten the author calls a “deconstructed novel.” Rich in imagery and language, they chronicle the gypsy’s life, including banishment from Andalusia by her mother, marriage to a famous Mexican bull fighter and the lives of numerous descendants who ultimately leave Mexico for El Paso, Texas. In one of the final stories, “Calaveras in the Closet,” the gypsy’s extensive family comes together for her funeral, where several long-guarded secrets will suddenly come to light.
Also included in this volume is a historical novella, a magic-realist retelling of an ancient legend about the first bearded female saint of the Catholic Church, St. Wilgefortis, whose cult was by Vatican II in 1969. Expertly weaving poetry, historical events, myth and legend into intriguing short fiction, Alicia Gaspar de Alba confirms her place as one of the leading contemporary Latinx voices.
Available from Arte Público Press, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.
Houston Public Radio Interview With the Author Arte Público Press Radio Interview
La Llorona on the Longfellow Bridge: Poetry y Otras Movidas(Arte Público Press, 2003)
In her introduction, Gaspar de Alba explains that the poems and prose poems here track her travels, physical and metaphorical, between1981-2001. The writing serves as a "bridge" in her life's journey, while "La Llorona is the border." (La Llorona, the mythical Mexican mourner who wanders in search of her lost children, is voice, soul, grief, mother, and duende, that elusive and vital artistic force.) The poet invites us to travel with her — all we need is an "open palm." (from www. newpages.com)
The Mystery of Survival and Other Stories (Bilingual Review Press, 1993)
In The Mystery of Survival and Other Stories, Gaspar de Alba considers the boundaries between sexes, lovers, cultures, generations, and beliefs and presents a body of work that allows her characters to both defy and celebrate these borders. This collection is peopled by those tenaciously exploring their places in the world: an ambitious young Mexican American reporter who quietly comes to understand the profound impermeability of this boundary as his Anglo editor refuses to see him as anything but an underling; a young woman haunted by the memories of her childhood along the United States/Mexico border; a boy who crosses the brittle line his parents have drawn between each other and chooses to show his allegiance to his mother. Gaspar de Alba reveals characters who, by exploring these boundaries, learn to define themselves and, ultimately, discover not just how to survive, but to flourish. (from the publisher).
Available from Bilingual Review Press.
"Beggar on the Cordoba Bridge," Alicia's first collecon of poems in Three Times a Woman: Chicana Poetry (Bilingual Press, 1989)
Also includes the work of Demetria Martinez and Maria Herrera-Sobek.
Available from Bilingual Press.