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by Sergio Troncoso
The University of Arizona Press (2011)
Sergio Troncoso has written a wonderful, heart-warming, universal tale of a family. This story can be about any American family and their struggle to work, pay bills, raise children, save them from the streets, get them through college, and live long enough to see their grandchildren.

What’s fascinating about FROM THIS WICKED PATCH OF DUST is that we have not one hero, but a whole family’s worth – Pilar, the mother, who wants to get away from her past and start anew in America; Cuahtémoc, the father, who will do anything for his wife and children even embrace a new country; Julieta, the only daughter, an activist-turned-rebel; Pancho, the caretaker and handyman; Marco, the soldier and teacher; and Ismael, the baby and writer.

Often Pilar looks at her children and thinks: “this family seemed like leaves in the wind, from the same tree, yet floating to their own private destinies.” But that is the fate of all families, be they American, European, Asian, etc. Children grow up and move away to follow their dreams and create their own lives.

Ismael sums up Troncoso’s tale best of all: “I wrote a story. It’s about our family…. It’s about Ysleta. It’s about how we lived, how we tried. It’s about how we were together for a time. I, I didn’t know what else to do…. How else to remember us…. It’s just a story, just words. But it’s what I can do. Its how I can make sure no one ever forgets.”

And, this reader certainly will not forget. Bravo, Sergio, Bravo.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Sergio Troncoso is the son of Mexican immigrants, born in Ysleta on the outskirts of El Paso, Texas. His parents built their adobe house, and the family lived with kerosene lamps and stoves and an outhouse in the backyard during their first years in Texas, much like the family in his novel. Troncoso has written four books, including FROM THIS WICKED PATCH OF DUST, which was selected as a Notable Book by Southwest Books of the Year, and as one of the Best Books of 2011 by Dark Sky Magazine. To learn more about this author and his other books, visit


Andrea Gaona said…
Hi, love your blog. I also love reading latino authors. I cannot find a place to e-mail you, but wanted to ask a question. I am most interested in Mexican writers, or books set specifically in Mexico. Could you help with that? I am in a book club with a lot of diversity. We read classical, biographies, and a large selection of literary works. I mostly pick latino books to open up the group to my heritage. Any help would be greatly appreciated. My e-mail is andreagshome at hotmail dot com. Don't want spam so I didn't put it in a clickable manner. I hope you don't mind. Thanks! Andrea