Interview by Daniel A. Olivas
Alejandro Morales, the son of Mexican immigrants, was born in Montebello, California, and grew up in Simons, the company town of the Simons Brick Yard #3, bordering Montebello. He earned his B.A. from California State University, Los Angeles, and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Rutgers University. Morales is currently a professor in the Department of Chicano/Latino Studies at the University of California, Irvine. Morales, as a novelist and professor, was awarded the Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature in 2007 from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Morales is the author of many novels and story collections including Caras Viejas y Vino Nuevo (1975),The Brick People (1988), The Rag Doll Plagues (1992), and River of Angels (2014).
Morales’s position as a seminal figure within Chicano letters is secure as eloquently detailed by Marc García-Martínez in last year’s TheFlesh-and-Blood Aesthetics of Alejandro Morales: Disease, Sex, and Figuration published by San Diego State University Press.
Morales’s most recent book is the story collection Little Nation published by Arte Público Press. Keeping with his aesthetic, Morales’s latest stories are unflinching and honest, a kind of tough-love literature that forces the reader to confront society’s—and our perhaps our own—demons. But he never forgets the importance of telling compelling stories, something Morales does so brilliantly here.
This collection was first published in Spanish ten years ago and was translated into English by Professor Adam Spires. Was this a difficult process?
A point of clarification, the first story “Quetzali” was originally written in English. The other four were originally written and published in Spanish. I have never translated any of my books or stories. If I were to translate my work I would probably rewrite the novel or short story. Translation is an art form. I prefer someone else to translate…