Rolando Hinojosa began writing book-length works of fiction in the 1970’s when he was in his forties and after he had established a successful academic career. He attended the University of Texas at Austin, but he left to serve in Korea before returning to complete his degree in Spanish in 1953.
In the 1950’s, he taught at Brownsville High School. He next took a master’s degree in Spanish from New Mexico Highlands University (1962) and a Ph.D. in Spanish from the University of Illinois (1969). From 1968 to the present, he has taught and held administrative posts at various universities in Texas.
Korean Love Songs from Klail City Death Trip, which is poetry, and his novels form the Klail City Death Trip series, which deals with ethnic identity, the perils and rewards of cultural assimilation, and the importance of education. Hinojosa’s major characters undergo epic struggles with the issues of identity, moving from a discrete, self-contained Mexican American community of the 1930’s into a world in which young Mexican American men fight and die for the institutions that have relegated them to second-class citizenry.
Hinojosa shows that life in the Rio Grande Valley must change. The Klail City Death Trip series in particular shows the subtle mid-century changes in the social and economic landscape of the small towns of the valley and the ways in which Mexican Americans began to demand equality.
Because many of Hinojosa’s characters believe in the American Dream, they become more Americanized and less Chicano as the twentieth century moves forward. By the time of Partners in Crime and Becky and Her Friends, the main characters have achieved status within the Anglo community and appear to thrive within it.