The parents of José Antonio Villarreal (VEE-yah-ree-AHL) were born in Mexico and moved to the United States in 1921. His father fought for Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution. Villarreal’s family served as migrant workers in the fields of California before settling in Santa Clara in 1930. As a child he read such works as classical mythology, Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer (1876) and Huckleberry Finn (1884), Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726), and Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones (1749). He has cited James Otis’s Toby Tyler, Or, Ten Weeks with a Circus (1881) as his favorite childhood book.
Villarreal received a B.A. in English from the University of California at Berkeley. He has taught at various universities, including the University of Colorado, the University of Texas at El Paso, the University of Texas-Pan American, the University of Santa Clara, and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
Villarreal has the distinction of having written what is considered to be the first Chicano novel, Pocho, published in 1959, before the Civil Rights movement began in earnest. Villarreal maintains his individuality within the Chicano movement; he acknowledges his cultural debt not only to the Chicano culture but to the mainstream cultures of the United States and Mexico as well. He considers Chicano literature to be a part of American literature and compares Chicano writers to the regional writers of the southern or western United States. He acknowledges Mexican literature as an influence on his writing but feels that, except for the difference of language, the literatures of Mexico and the United States are very similar.
Villarreal considers the...
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