Spilling the Beans in Chicanolandia: Conversations with Writers and Artists

By Frederick Luis Aldama | Go to book overview

Michael Nava

Michael Nava was born in 1954 in Stockton, California. His family soon moved to a barrio in Sacramento in search of employment and a better life. A precocious and sensitive child, Nava spent more and more time reading in the library as he grew older to escape his stepfather’s violent hand, which shot sharply through the air of a oneroom, breeze-block home in the barrio. Nava survived with the help of teachers and books; there was no place for him in this dysfunctional, patriarchal household— especially once he reached puberty and identified as gay. After winning a scholarship, Nava made tracks for Colorado College, where he earned a B.A. in English. After traveling to Spain and Argentina (during the 1970s and the great tragedy of the desaparecidos, or “Disappeared”), Nava returned home with the intent of studying law. In 1981, with a J.D. from Stanford under his belt—and a couple of poetry prizes—Nava began to practice as a prosecutor in Los Angeles. By night, however, he continued to hone his craft as a novelist of detective fiction.

In 1986, Michael Nava published his first mystery novel, The Little Death, breathing life into the first gay Chicano lawyer-cum-detective, Henry Rios. Nava hasn’t stopped to look back since, churning out seven more awardwinning novels that fully contour Rios’s life as he solves grisly murders and crimes against the disenfranchised, has affairs of the heart, and struggles with the constant loss of friends and lovers to AIDS. Rios encounters a world filled with bigotry that rears its ugly head when it comes to queers and Chicanos/as: a world that outlaws those who are darker of hue, the working class, and people with a different sexuality, often paralyzing them with fear

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Spilling the Beans in Chicanolandia: Conversations with Writers and Artists
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introducing a Second Wave of Chicano/a Visual/Verbal Artists 1
  • Francisco X. Alarcón 37
  • Alfred Arteaga 53
  • Ricardo Bracho 69
  • Denise Chávez 79
  • Lucha Corpi 95
  • Dagoberto Gilb 107
  • Jaime Hernandez (of Los Bros Hernandez) 119
  • Juan Felipe Herrera 129
  • Richard Montoya (of Culture Clash) 143
  • Pat Mora 153
  • Cherríe Moraga 167
  • Alejandro Morales 177
  • Michael Nava 187
  • Daniel Olivas 199
  • Cecile Pineda 215
  • Lourdes Portillo 227
  • Luis J. Rodríguez 235
  • Benjamin Alire Sáenz 251
  • Luis Alberto Urrea 261
  • Alfredo Véa Jr 277
  • Alma Luz Villanueva 287
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