Mexican American Literature: A Portable Anthology.

AuthorZentella, Yoly
PositionLATIN AMERICA - Book review

Gilb, Dagoberto and Ricardo Angel Gilb, eds., Mexican American Literature: A Portable Anthology. Boston: Bedford St. Martin's Press, 2016.

The publication of this engaging literary collection coincides with the ongoing struggle in Arizona to overturn legislation enacted by the state legislature in 2010 to eliminate Mexican American studies programs from public schools. Supporters of the legislation argue that it is necessary to ban classes in public schools that advocate the overthrow of the US government, urge ethnic solidarity, breed ethnic resentment, or treat students as members of a group rather than as individuals. Opponents of the legislation, including this reviewer, contend that the ban on ethnic studies curriculum is a thinly veiled attempt at cultural homogenization by conservative forces dedicated to erasing Latino culture and history.

Many Chicano writers, artists, and academics challenge this assimilation effort by acknowledging and exposing the legacy of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s. This movement propelled Chicano youth toward politicization and education, which in turn drove increasing numbers into graduate study, professions, and university faculty membership. Out of this push came a flurry of writing in various disciplines, particularly history and literature, leading to the development and establishment of sorely needed Chicano studies programs in universities and the hiring of Chicano faculty. Mexican American Literature: A Portable Anthology, edited by Dagoberto Gilb, a professor of Latino Studies at the University of Houston-Victoria and the executive director of Centro Victoria: Center for Mexican American Literature and Culture, and his son, Ricardo Angel Gilb, a writer, give tribute to the dynamic legacy left by those early writers and their literary descendants.

The diverse anthology should appeal to high school and college students as well as those interested in the written experience of the Chicanos in the United States. Fifty selections represent poetry, plays, and fiction, in a variety of genres: journalism, historical narrative, memoirs, and editorial cartoons. Ricardo Angel Gilb introduces...

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