Don’t know how we missed the passing of Jose Antonio Villarreal in late January (oh yes, we were in the middle of all kinds of graduate school application madness…), but it was rather sad to hear word just today. Villareal’s Pocho was among the first works of Chicano literature to be published by a major American house. The novel is a bildungsroman chronicling the early life of Richard Rubio in depression-era Central California as he attempts to move between and negotiate polarities of domesticity, language, class, culture, ideology, religion, ethnicity, and gender. What emerges is a portrait-in-motion of a subject constituted by the rifts and distances from the culture from whence he came and the culture in which he lives, being neither fully Mexican nor fully American. Spanning from the Mexican Revolution to the Second World War, Pocho renders a tale of the encounters, sentiments, and reflections that make up becoming-ethnic in the United States.
For a little more, read Villarreal’s obituary in the Siskiyou Daily News, while Cal State L.A.s’ Roberto Cantu offers an informative appraisal of Villarreal’s work at La Bloga.
Image: Siskiyou Daily News