Who’s Your Favorite Chicana Writer?

One of my favorite Chicana novelists and poets is Ana Castillo. I adore how she incorporates details she’s observed from daily life into her stories. In the book of hers I read recently, Peel My Love Like an Onion (1999), the example of cleaning out an older relative’s refrigerator; the open cans, the frying pans of food, sparked recognition for me. The purge is overdue and heavily discouraged by the grey-haired familiar, and so best undertaken beneath the cover of darkness. Afterwards, despite the failing memory of the appliance owner, the purger is never forgiven.

Dr. Castillo tells us the story of Carmen, who is a Chicana from Chicago, like the author. Although one leg is paralyzed by polio, Carmen adroitly chases her dream and becomes a famous flamenco dancer in the Windy City. She wears long gitana skirts, absorbs the rhythms and performs with duende (fiery flamenco spirit). Soon she is pursued by not one, but two men with Romany background.

Carmen teaches dance for a time. At one class she says, “Now everybody say it once for me, please, I said, as ornery as anyone was ever going to be there. FLA-MEN-CO. If you want to see flamingos, go to Florida!”

The writer uses a confessional style. She reveals the secret love lives past and present of six or more characters of several orientations. Castillo chronicles the life of a modern single woman who does not bend to traditional social pressures, who makes her own unique way in the world. ¡Olé!  Peel My Love Like an Onion is an original tale and a new imagining of womanhood.

Gracias for reading Fake Flamenco! –Rebecca

Ana Castillo Photo: US Embassy in Argentina https://www.flickr.com/photos/39309480@N05/33566950604/
Rebecca Cuningham

5 thoughts on “Who’s Your Favorite Chicana Writer?

  1. Thanks for sharing the work of Ana Castillo. I’m not familiar with Chicana novelists and poets. I discovered the Chicana poet Lisa Alvarado whom I featured on my Poetry Corner May 2014. I found her poetry collection, Raw Silk Suture,” very powerful in its revelation of the Chicana American experience.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Rebecca, for sharing this post on Ana Castillo, I had never known there was even a genre of Chicana American writers, but the story of Carmen is rather interesting and uplifting. It is good to learn as there are so many things that one does not know and when introduced to them, they become interesting and possibly a pursuit. Great post Rebecca, like always a big abrazo from the Iberian Peninsula,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. De nada, Francisco. So happy to hear your interest in Ana Castillo and Chicana literature. I am glad to be back reading writers I valued when I read them in school. Thanks for your support! Saludos, Rebecca

      Liked by 1 person

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