Alejandro Morales (moh-RAL-ehs) is a leading Chicano writer and professor at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). Born in Montebello, California (locally considered “East L.A.”), Morales grew up in a secure and loving working-class home, though in the midst of a more turbulent barrio. Witnessing the gang fights, drug deals, homelessness, and chaos on the streets of his neighborhood while still in high school, Morales decided to become a writer who would chronicle his community. He recorded his neighborhood experiences in his journals and then set out for college, first to earn a B.A. from California State University, Los Angeles, and then an M.A. (1971) and Ph.D. (1975) in Spanish from Rutgers University. Morales became a professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, with an appointment in film studies at UCI, where he teaches courses on Latin American literature. He married Rohde Teaze on December 16, 1967, and they had two children, Alessandra Pilar and Gregory Stewart.
After finishing his Ph.D., Morales pursued publication of his first novel, Old Faces and New Wine, which was based on his youthful journal writings. Offers from American publishing companies proved elusive because of his challenging, experimental prose style and because the journals were initially written in Spanish. His early fiction reflects Morales’s anger at the exploitation of his parents, who worked in manufacturing, his despair over the conditions of the barrio, and his struggles against the racism, subtle and overt, he experienced in the academic world early in his teaching career. The result is an arresting prose style; readers of Morales’s early fiction have to work to make connections between events and their meanings and must also learn to comprehend the peculiar...
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