Crossing Borders: Personal Essays
by Sergio Troncoso
Published: 30 September 2011
Bind: Trade Paperback
These personal essays focus on one man’s journey from an impoverished border town childhood to Ivy League success.Look Inside
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“On good days I feel I am a bridge. On bad days I just feel alone,” Sergio Troncoso writes in this riveting collection of sixteen personal essays in which he seeks to connect the humanity of his Mexican family to people he meets on the East Coast, including his wife’s Jewish kin. Raised in a home steps from the Mexican border in El Paso, Texas, Troncoso crossed what seemed an even more imposing border when he left home to attend Harvard College.
Initially, “outsider status” was thrust upon him; later, he adopted it willingly, writing about the Southwest and Chicanos in an effort to communicate who he was and where he came from to those unfamiliar with his childhood world. He wrote to maintain his ties to his parents and his abuelita, and to fight against the elitism he experienced at an Ivy League school. “I was torn,” he writes, “between the people I loved at home and the ideas I devoured away from home.”
Troncoso writes to preserve his connections to the past, but he puts pen to paper just as much for the future. In his three-part essay entitled “Letter to My Young Sons,” he documents the terror of his wife’s breast cancer diagnosis and the ups and downs of her surgery and treatment. Other essays convey the joys and frustrations of fatherhood, his uneasy relationship with his elderly father and the impact his wife’s Jewish heritage and religion have on his Mexican-American identity.
Crossing Borders: Personal Essays reveals a writer, father and husband who has crossed linguistic, cultural and intellectual borders to provoke debate about contemporary Mexican-American identity. Challenging assumptions about literature, the role of writers in America, fatherhood and family, these essays bridge the chasm between the poverty of the border region and the highest echelons of success in America. Troncoso writes with the deepest faith in humanity about sacrifice, commitment and honesty.
Bronze Winner, ForeWord Reviews, 2011 Book of the Year Awards; Second Place, International Latino Book Awards, Best Biography in English
“These very personal essays cross several borders: cultural, historical, and self-imposed….We owe it to ourselves to read, savor and read them again.” —The El Paso Times
“Troncoso’s book is a piece of artwork and a piece of heritage that everyone, not just Latinos, should take the time to read.” —Portland Book Review
“A champion for the rights of immigrants who have come to this country for a better, more prosperous life.” —NewPages.com
“Troncoso’s essays are lucid, philosophical, and erudite without being condescending to the reader. Crossing Borders signals a shift in writing about what it means to be Chicano and a writer in the early 21st century.” —The Packinghouse Review
“Touching and intelligent, this book shows what it’s like growing up an intellectual on the border of the US and Mexico. It’s often painful, often funny, but always precise in expressing how rich and challenging life can be, how sometimes moving away from home can bring you even closer to your family and heritage.”—Daniel Chacón, author of and the shadows took him and Unending Rooms
“Troncoso understands that in emerging from his chrysalis, he can never go back – nor does he want to. But the lesson is clear: You give something up to gain something else. As they say in the mercado in Chihuahua, “What will you take for it?” Troncoso paid quite a lot, and it is worth our while to witness this journey from native son to the bloody birth of a public intellectual.”—Kathleen Alcalá, author of The Desert Remembers My Name
SERGIO TRONCOSO is the author of The Nature of Truth (Northwestern University Press, 2003) and The Last Tortilla and Other Stories (University of Arizona Press, 1999), which won the Premio Aztlán and the Southwest Book Award. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College and two graduate degrees, in international relations and philosophy, from Yale University. He won a Fulbright scholarship to Mexico and was inducted into the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s Alumni Hall of Fame. He lives and works in New York City.
Learn more at sergiotroncoso.com.