Ana Castillo in New Mexico
|Born||15 June 1953 (Gemini)
|Occupation||novelist, poet, essayist, short story writer|
|Literary movement||Xicanisma / Postmodernism|
|Notable work(s)||So Far from God, Massacre of the Dreamers, Loverboys, The Guardians|
|Notable award(s)||Columbia Foundation's American Book Award (1987)|
||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2010)|
Ana Castillo (born 15 June 1953) is a Mexican-American Chicana novelist, poet, short story writer, essayist, editor, playwright, translator and independent scolar. Considered as one of the leading voices in Chicana experience, known for her daring and experimental style as a Latino novelist. Her works offer pungent and passionate socio-political comment that is based on established oral and literary traditions. Castillo's interest in race and gender issues can be traced throughout her writing career. Her novel, Sapogonia was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She is the editor of "La Tolteca", an arts and literary magazine. Castillo held the first Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Endowed Chair at DePaul University. She has attained a number of awards including an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for her first novel, "The Mixquiahuala Letters", a Carl Sandburg Award, a Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in fiction and poetry and in 1998 Sor Juana Achievement Award by the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Chicago. 
- 1 Life and career
- 2 Poetry
- 3 So Far from God
- 4 Loverboys [Stories]
- 5 Peel My Love Like An Onion
- 6 The Guardians
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 See also
- 9 Critical studies since 2000 (English only)
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Life and career
Castillo was born in Chicago in 1953, the daughter of Raymond and Rachel Rocha Castillo. Her mother was Mexican Indian and her father was born in 1933, in Chicago. She attended Jones Commercial High School and Chicago City College before completing her BS in art, with a minor in secondary education, at Northeastern Illinois University. Ana Castillo received her MA in Latin American and Caribbean Studies from the University of Chicago in 1979, after teaching ethnic studies at Santa Rosa Junior College and serving as writer-in-residence for the Illinois Arts Council. She has also taught at Malcom X Junior College and later on in her life at Sonoma State College. Ana Castillo received her doctorate from the University of Bremen, Germany, in American Studies in 1991. In lieu of a traditional dissertation, she submitted the essays later collected in her 1994 work Massacre of the Dreamers. Castillo, who has written more than 15 books and numerous articles, is widely regarded as a key thinker and a pioneer in the field of Chicana literature. She has said, "Twenty-five years after I started writing, I feel I still have a message to share."
Castillo writes about Chicana feminism, which she coins "Xicanisma," and her work centers on issues of identity, racism, and classism. She coins the term "xicanisma" to signify Chicana feminism, to illustrate the politics of what it means to be a Chicana in our society, and to represent the Chicana feminism that challenges binaries regarding the Chicana experience such as gay/straight black/white. Castillo defines it as: "Xicanisma is an ever present consciousness of our interdependence specifically rooted in our culture and history. Although Xicanisma is a way to understand ourselves in the world, it may also help others who are not necessarily of Mexican background and/or women. It is yielding; never resistant to change, one based on wholeness not dualisms. Men are not our opposities, our opponents, our 'other'". She states that, “Chicana literature is something that we as Chicanas take and define as part of U.S. North American literature. That literature has to do with our reality, our perceptions of reality, and our perceptions of society in the United States as women of Mexican descent or Mexican background or Latina background”. Castillo argues that Chicanas must combat multiple modes of oppression, including homophobia, racism, sexism and classism, and that Chicana feminism must acknowledge the presence of multiple diverse Chicana experiences. Her writing shows the influence of magical realism. Much of her work has been translated into Spanish, including her poetry. She has also contributed articles and essays to such publications as the Los Angeles Times and Salon. Castillo is the editor of La Tolteca, an arts and literary magazine.
As a poet Castillo has authored several works, including Otro Canto (1977) The Invitation (1979), Women Are Not Roses (Arte Publico, 1984), and My Father Was a Toltec (West End Press, 1988). Her works primarily communicate the meaning and revelations we discover in various experiences. Her poem, Women Don't Riot, explores the tribulations of womanhood, but Castillo daringly uses the lines of this poem as her "offense, rejection" (line 49-50 of the poem) of the idea that she will sit quiet. This poem celebrates the strength of women as opposed to what the title may suggest. Castillo turns the poem's examples of women's submission and domestication into a celebration of strength and solidarity.
She won't fight, she won't even scream-- taught as she's been (Women Don't Riot)
She often intermingles Spanish and English in her poetry effortlessly, like in her collection of poems entitled I Ask the Impossible. The hybrid of languages that she creates is poetic and lyrical, using one language to intrigue another as opposed to a broken "Spanglish".
So Far from God
So Far from God, Castillo's third novel (1993), might best be described as a telenovela, in which intimate details of people’s loves and losses are told and ends with a hint of what is to come in the next broadcast. The novel, set in the tiny village of Tome, New Mexico, employs magic realism to examine the lives of Mexican-American women on the borders. The character Sofi, a middle-aged single mother, and her four daughters live at a crossroads between Chicano, Mexican, Spanish, and First Nations cultures. While juggling her small business duties and childcare, Sofi confronts both the modern technological moment and ageless traditions of birth, growth, and loss; for comfort, she and her neighbors are immersed in competing religious traditions of Catholicism, curanderismo, and folk-traditions concerning the nature of the spirit.
As the novel opens, La Loca, Sofi’s youngest daughter, dies, examines the details of hell, and then comes back to Tome to live. Since she has experienced much of the spirit world, it is no wonder that she has epileptic fits, cannot stand the smell of people (preferring the company of horses), frequently talks with the Mexican-American folk character, La Llorona, and despite her lack of body, dies once more of AIDS. Sofi’s second youngest daughter’s barhopping lifestyle leads to her rape, but not by a man, by la Malogra, a New Mexican folkloric monster said to haunt empty highways. Miraculously healed, Caridad trains to become a curandera (traditional healer), and joins the annual pilgrimage to Chimayo, where she meets her beloved, a woman. Francisco, the village santero (saint-carver), stalks Caridad, only to see her leap, with her beloved, from the great heights of Acoma, the pueblo built atop a mountain which was difficult for Spanish conquerors to take by surprise; and thus her exit enacts freedom from her male pursuer, freedom from “conquest,” and untouchable and undying faith in her love. Fe, the next daughter in line, immerses herself in a relentless pursuit of the American Dream, which for her includes a husband and a house of her own. Led by her employer’s promises of more money, she undertakes jobs that place her in contact with dangerous chemicals, until she sickens and dies of cancer. Sofi’s eldest daughter, Esperanza, gains an education and moves away to have a life independent of that of the village. However, her job as news anchorwoman takes her to Saudi Arabia, where she is killed in the war. Her spirit walks with that of La Llorona in Tome’s acequia (irrigation channel) and frequently converses with La Loca.
At the novel’s conclusion, Sofi is strengthened, not destroyed, by the loss of her daughters and turns away from the traditional life of the home-maker to the life of a politician and reformer, seeking to create a weaving cooperative. Interestingly, names in this novel form a kind of allegory. Sofi, whose name means “wisdom,” having lost, in her daughters, the Christian tenets of faith (Fe), hope (Esperanza) and charity (Caridad), places her wisdom and strength at the service of her neighbors so that they may continue to survive.
So Far from God is set in the United States and is considered a "border novel," though it is neither a Mexican nor American story, but a hybrid form which records history and traditions in both cultures. Its title is from a quotation by Mexican president Porfirio Diaz ["Pobre Mexico tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca de los Estados Unidos." ("Poor Mexico so far from God and so close to the United States.")], a man who carried both Spanish and Indian genes, and who was popular for a time for refusing to join the last foreign emperor of Mexico, Maximilian I of Mexico. In her interview with Simon Romero in 1993 for an issue of Albuquerque, New Mexico's NuCity, Castillo states how she felt the importance of making the language of this work to represent the aspirations of the northern New Mexicans, when asked about the difference in New Mexico's vernacular that she chooses to use in So Far From God. She strongly believes that words are not names for the same things when translated, but are in fact "different names for different things".
A compilation of 25 stories published in 1996 that describe the many facets of the human experience of love, friendship, and the search for identity. Castillo's postmodern style of writing incorporates aspects of magic realism, merging aspects of reality and fantasy, to describe real emotions and experiences. Many of Castillo's main characters reflect on the question of identity and how we define who we are, based on where we come from and the people we encounter. The subject of cultural pride also comes across in her writing by incorporating tastes of her ties to Spanish language and culture. Castillo adheres to the postmodern tradition by giving minority cultures and genders a voice. Many of her characters not only come from diverse cultural and racial backgrounds, but also from different sexual orientations. With such a wide range of characters, Castillo is able to construct glimpses of how life can be experienced from many different perspectives. Castillo's literary styles in the short stories range from stream of consciousness to ambiguity in character voices. Castillo plays on her punctuation and syntax in order to emphasize meaning. For example, she uses the lower case "i" in several stories to create a sense of loss and identity in the central characters. Castillo essentially provides a plethora of different perspectives of "The Other" through various relationships with people, e.g. families, lovers, friends, etc.
An unnamed narrator seems to speak to the reader directly in an almost complete stream of consciousness. The narrator tells the reader of her past loves and heartbreak as she sits at a gay bar (that she had helped start up) drinking brandy while she observes two boys make out. Loverboys touches on themes of love and human sexuality, exploring the idea that love is neither a letting on or being left behind as she expresses in the two relationships she talks about in Loverboys. Castillo writes, "We made love anytime, anyplace, as often as we could" (15), "Although I promised myself never to look for him again, I broke down finally-because between books and drinks, there's only him in my head, like one of those melodies where you only know half the words. I called him without thinking about it, like I had done so many times before..." (15). In her retelling of her relationship with her loverboy, she describes how they had first met, their differences, their love making, and their eventual split. She is able to describe why it was so difficult for her to forget about his love, using vivid imagery as she recollects memories of him. This short story sheds light on issues regarding cultural differences as well as issues regarding gender and sexual orientation. More importantly, is how these things are received by others. Noted are aspects of clichéd love juxtaposed with the reality of love between two very different people. She states how the two boys making out will probably end up married, because they knew how to fight, they knew how to be mad at each other, but her and her loverboy, who never had so much as a hiccup in their relationship, had ended. She speaks directly to the reader as if she is rambling on and is unable to stop herself at times in the story, but breaks in the consciousness allows the reader to see that she may perhaps be speaking to her loverboy.
2. Who Was Juana Gallo?
Ana Castillo’s writing not only brings forth the voice of women in minority cultures but also combats the image of women in the media.“Who Was Juana Gallo?” compares the film adaptation of Juana Gallo’s life to the true character of the young Mexican warrior. Juana Gallo was a soldadera, or female soldier, who fought alongside male troops in the Mexican Revolution. The story is told by an unnamed narrator, though the text suggests that it is one of Juana Gallo’s past lovers. The dichotomy between the representation in the film and the real biographical facts shows how media misrepresents the strength and virility of women. According to Castillo, Hollywood forces conformity to American culture and diminishes the diversity and pride of different cultures. The women in the film adaptation of Juana Gallo’s life focused around the affections of a man, even going so far as to create a love triangle to add to the dramatic aspect. However, the real Juana Gallo was a woman who was “driven by her convictions” and “never had anything to be jealous of.” There were many versions of her story: some stating that her lovers were women, others revealing her as a child-hating, bitter spinster. She fought for her country and what she believed in without denying her identity as a strong-willed, Mexican woman.
3. If not for the Blessing of a Son
This short story is about a family composed of a mother, a father and a son. In his early years, the son seemed weak and easily affected by nerves. The mother treated the son tenderly while the father treated the mother like she was being overprotective. The son began to grow up; as he got older, he also became stronger. He began to aspire to be a police officer,a profession of which his parents did not approve. Much of the household’s function depended on the son because he was expected to help his mother with chores (while his father did not). He was also expected to help his father with financial decisions. Friends of the family saw the son growing up to be a good future husband. The son, however, seems to know that he can never leave the house. The story emphasizes the father's anachronistic and strict habits, such as making his son kiss his hand to show respect. The family is described as authoritarian and traditional when it comes to raising the son. The story concludes by presenting the house as perfect on the outside, with a perfect cut lawn and fancy cars. Yet, the house is full of secrets on the inside. This story gives insight into the experience of expectations in Chicano/a culture. The reader sees the son's difficulty of being himself and working through the judgment of his parents, while still being a loyal and giving son.
4. A Perfect Romance
5. Ghost Talk
This short story revolves around a Chicana woman, who struggles to find her true identity; she feels like a ghost in town. The narrator writes in first person, yet she uses a lower case “i” to signify her weak sense of identity. As the story begins, the narrator describes the city she currently lives in as very diverse, including the range of Cubano foods. She watches a reflection of herself in a window and sees her Indian braid fall down her back. She explains that her friend said she should have been in an Italian movie. Iraida, a Cubano friend, shares the beauty of Habana, Cuba. Iraida displays some of her prejudices against black people, as she contemplates some of their “odd features” (44). The narrator places oil behind her ears in order to protect her against envy. The narrator goes on to contemplate the artists in the city and keeps referring to herself as a ghost. She describes herself as altering images from looking like a Campesina to an Italian. As the story continues, Iraida’s neighbor states that the narrator looks Cuban. Iraida’s face immediately brightens up as she tells the narrator that she does not look Indian, but indeed Cuban, like herself. The narrator then shows the neighbor a picture of herself with her husband. When the neighbor asks about her family,we learn that the narrator cannot have children. The narrator continues to discuss oppressions in the United States, such as Americans telling immigrants to “go back to your country” (47). She continues to talk about the power and magic of friendships. Then, the narrator starts discussing her Mexican mother and she hides the truth about her white father. Essentially, a white man took advantage of a Mexican woman, the narrator's mother, who worked for him at a factory. One day, as the narrator and her mother walk through a supermarket, her mother freezes. She sees the white man, father of her child. The narrator feels anger as she sees her father with his white daughter and granddaughter. Again, she feels like a ghost to him. The narrator decides to take a mental note of the white man’s license plate, and pays him a house visit. She acts like a solicitor and invites herself into his home. The man is tense; he doesn’t seem to like the company of a Mexican. When she sees his eyes move onto her legs, she pulls out her gun. The man is scared to death, but she probes him about the knowledge of her mother, and taking advantage of her. She can tell by his eyes that she has triggered a memory, but the man does not admit to the knowledge of the Mexican woman. Just as the man was about to grab the phone to call the police, the narrator cocks her gun to show him her severity. The man frightens greatly and falls down, perhaps has a heart attack. The narrator calls an ambulance and leaves the scene. The narrator ends the story by telling the readers that she has left the town, and traveled back to the city. This story embellishes on many facets of identity including ethnic appearances, prejudices, and colonization, both of a country and of a person. The story also resonates with diversity in different cities, a strong sense of culture.
In this short story, the narrator tells the story of a woman named Sara and her arrival in the narrator’s town, where she is the new chemistry teacher at the local high school. The narrator is a male voice and specifically focuses on retelling the particulars of Sara’s love life and the perception that the town develops about her, based on these love stories. The story begins with her arrival in the new town and the desire of all the town folk, both men and women alike, to get to know her. She is an older, single, college educated woman, and the community is intrigued to find out about this “exotic” figure. The narrator begins to explain how Sara began to search in her memory and lists all the men she had been with, as well as the memories that she had with each. She separates the men into two categories. As time passed, the town lost interest in Sara because she rejected the men since she was “educated”and “smart” ; the men failed to see these qualities in her. She stopped spending time with her female friends and thus, slowly the town began to lose their desire for her. This short story emphasizes the culturally specific female roles which society creates, especially in a masculine dominant culture. Thus, the root of the problem examined in this story is that the town does not understand Sara because she challenges their ideas of what the role should play is and how they should act.
7. Juan in a Million
8. Again, Like Before
9. A Kiss Errant
A one page story that shows the feelings of a relationship between a man and the narrator. The emotional feelings are described in short sentences making us, as the readers, wonder about the relationship between these two people. In a quick description, the narrator tells her audience how she went in for a kiss to her lover, and yet he moved away just as she was about to land the kiss. She explains that love sometimes disappears this way too. When she asks her lover why he would do such a thing, he responds that he wanted to have at least one moment of resistance against her love. This story reflects the idea of wanting more in a relationship and falling into temptation.
10. What Big Cities Are For
This short story included a variety of people recalling what they did the night before, specifically concerned with the narrations of the roommates. They are discussing how they were joined by two men at a bar the night before. It explores the idea that one of the two men, if not both, are gay. This story also explores the relationship between friends, or in this case roommates, and the complexities that come with these relationships. Looking at these relationships within the context of location and what effects the setting has. For example, in the story the characters are questioning if they were being hit on in Hollywood...and that's "What Big Cities Are For."
11. Being Indian, a Candle Flame and So Many Dying Stars
In this story the female narrator and her two friends (David and Eugenia) are watching a film about the Chamula people when she states that, “it is moments like this ... that I know that I am Indian” (96). The narrator and her friends go on to discuss how many people have seen them as Hispanic or American rather than Indian which continues the ongoing theme of Castillo’s characters struggling with their identities. They then begin to discuss the narrator’s son when the narrator notices David staring at the candle flame. She then addresses the reader saying, “Out in the city sky there were stars at that moment dying, the sun included. The earth was also said to be dying. And David, who my eyes and therefore my mind told me was across the table from me at that moment, was also dying, at that very moment. We were all dying of course, which is the nature of life” (101). This shows that despite the different identities these characters have given themselves or the world has given them, all off mankind is connected through the Earth and the nature of life and death.
12. My Dream Last Night
The narrator of this story discusses her sister, Mirna, who she had been in touch with through letters. Mirna was being bothered by a man but she was too afraid to tell anyone. She began sleeping in cemeteries because mausoleums are generally cool and clean. Mirna was then found dead in the street; the narrator suspects that the man is the one who killed her. The narrator explains that every night she dreams of Mirna. In the dreams Mirna is sitting outside a mausoleum in the country and she is wearing a dress the narrator remembers her in. Mirna looks happy as she gives the narrator a message: “Remember to tell them about this tomb. Remember Mirna, my name is Mirna. Tell them I slept here” (103). This specific story may be discussing the idea of lack of identity. Mirna goes unremembered by all but the narrator. Mirna is just one example of a woman who has traveled to the United States, goes undocumented, struggles to acquire identity through American and Mexican culture and is killed in the difficult conditions.
13. Christmas Story of the Golden Cockroach"
This short story is an example of Ana Castillo’s magical realism, a genre characterized by magical and unnatural elements, popular in Latin American literature. This story is about a Mexican couple going to visit their friends, Paco and Rosa, before they leave to visit México for the holidays. The narrator, the wife, describes Paco and Rosa’s home in the United States. She describes the rooms as dark, cold, and full of mattresses with little blankets for the winter. She also indicates the presence of a twenty-five inch screen television. Rosa’s older sister, Cuca, watches Rosa’s children as she runs errands, such as meeting teachers at school who suggest the children speak more English at home. Rosa takes the narrator’s baby, cooing and awing over its big, black eyes. Rosa asks the narrator if they have applied for food stamps yet, since both of the husbands have been unemployed for a year now. The narrator tells Rosa that they have been denied food stamps because they have three vehicles, although none of the vehicles work properly. As the two women discuss their issues and concerns, the narrator notices a golden cockroach sitting on her baby’s blanket. Rosa takes the gold cockroach and puts it in a jar, telling her children to take great care of the gold cockroach. Rose then begins to explain the story of the golden cockroach. Rosa narrates that Paco’s father is the one who began mating cockroaches in order to create a golden one. Paco’s father paid his landlord for his room and board with the golden cockroach. The landlord loved the payment of the golden cockroach and he began pawning the golden cockroach every month. Rosa explains that Paco’s father left the house to Paco and Rosa, who sold the golden cockroach to the pawnbroker. As a gift to the narrator and her husband, Rosa gives the golden cockroach to the narrator and her husband, Serafín. The couple immediately decides to produce more golden cockroaches, instead of pawning this one. They ultimately lose the golden one in the midst of a vast number of regular cockroaches. By the end of the story, they find the golden cockroach, but when they visit the pawnbroker, they realize he has retired. Serafín states they will just have to wait until Paco and Rosa get back from México to think of another plan. This short story contains emphasis on the elements of hope and faith. Both families are just trying to survive as immigrants in the United States. This story provides a different perspective than the other stories; it focuses on lower class immigrants, rather than on their relationships.
14. Mother's Wish
This short story is the simple and heartfelt wishes of a mother for her child. The mother in this story would give anything to ensure her child's safety and health. If anything were to go wrong, the mother would kill herself. The concept of love is present in Castillo's stories but this particular story expresses familial love. The mother adores her child and looks forward to spending a lifetime with her baby. The strongest aspect of the story is the image of the mother kissing her child on the cheek and promising to die if anything ever happened. Castillo made such a short piece come alive with her use of imagery and the powerful nature of a mother's love.
15. The Law of Probabilities
Themes of identity and memory are prevalent in this story about a love affair between a young college student and a graduate professor with a mysterious past. Told in first person from the perspective of the student, whose gender is unknown, as they reflect on the beginning and end of their relationship with their Professor. The graduate professor is a known figure around campus due to the fact that she is one of the few female academics on staff but more for the reason that, at the start of each semester,she admits to her students that she had served time in prison for killing her father. The narrator says little about her appearance besides the fact that her eyes always look sad, as if her emotions can never be expressed with her whole face because her eyes always look faraway and troubled. When the Professor is denied tenure, possibly because she refused to write a book, she decides to do some traveling and so their relationship ends. Ironically, the student later becomes a teaching professor with tenure and has submitted a book for publication. The narrator’s reflection draws on Castillo’s message of identity and how who we are is a reflection of the people who pass in and out of our lives.
16. A True Story
This story happens to be another of Castillo's shorter stories. It is told from the perspective of a waiter. The waiter is watching a female customer as she dines and is noticing her youthful characteristics as well as how they both had Indian blood in them. The waiter decides to talk to the woman about the weather in which she responds back to him with a brief answer. Having heard her response was wonderful; the waiter felt something special. Castillo draws on the theme of identity through the connection of Indian blood that the waiter and the woman share.
17. Maria Who Paints and Who Bore Jose
This story focuses on a female narrator that demonstrates the difficult position that women are oftentimes put in due to tradition. The narrator informs the reader at the beginning of the unreliable character and nature of her ex-husband. Including his eccentric interests and theories about the end of the world, which is what is currently causing conflict in the story. However, the real explorations on the state of traditions comes in in the different reactions appropriated to the narrator, the wife, following her dreams and the reaction to the husband following his dreams. The view that the community has about this is negative towards the wife and positive towards the husband even though it is known that he has been the one shying awaying from his duties. This story becomes an interesting commentary then on how there are double standards in long standing traditions especially concerning the ability of women to look for fulfillment aside from running a household.
18. Two Children
19. Crawfish Love
"Crawfish Love" examines the relationship between two women, Vanessa and Catalina. Vanessa notices Catalina the third time she visits the restaurant where Catalina works at, Mares Mazatlan. Catalina doesn't give Vanessa a dime of her time while doing orders and just being waitress. This is something that Vanessa likes as she likes the challenge first. At the end of the story she final finds the courage and realizes how she likes Catalina. This short story is only a few pages but contains the emotions that we sometime get when by ourselves and examining others.
20. A Lifetime
This story focuses on the relationship between a woman and a man. The woman came to visit the man in the hospital, who is dying,seemingly of a tumor. The story flashes back to twenty years ago. The woman was apparently married to the man but the man shortly left her for another woman whom he then married. During their marriage, they had a child; after a year,they divorced. His life with the other woman was much more filled with money and devotion in addition to two more children. The woman talks of a time when she saw the other woman and the in restaurant, but she walked right by in order to avoid awkwardness. The story goes back to the present and the woman says that they spend the next hour holding hands as the man dozes off. This story shows the experience of the divorced woman in this day and age. The man had no deep desire to see his family as he lay in the hospital, but he did want to see his ex-wife.
21. Conversations with an Absent Lover on a Beachless Afternoon
22. Foreign Market
This is a story about two foreign people that meet and instantly have a connection. The woman is thirty while the man is twenty-two. They don't speak the same language, but they use universal signs to communicate. They go to the theater to see a movie, they kiss, and they decide to meet at the market a few days later at two in the afternoon. When the woman gets there, the man ignores her; the woman decides to leave. As she is walking away, she hears her name being called out and hopes it is him. She turns to find out it is someone else but she waits for him to approach her. He tells her that he can go with her. She leaves again, ignoring the shouts as he calls to her, picking up her pace as she gets farther and farther away.
“Subtitles” is an interesting story about a Chicana actress starring in a foreign film. The foreign film represents learning a new language, English. English is demonstrated as dominating and colonizing, as the narrator uses phrases such as, “jutted out of my mouth like broken glass caught in my throat” (166). The Chicana woman describes her foreign accent and her foreign clothing in detail. The narrator describes other cast members talking about her; they say she’s a lesbian and she has large breasts; the cast members are demeaning in their descriptions simply because the actress is "foreign" to them. The narrator tells the cast members about her child, who is going to become an artist. The cast members simply laugh politely. They talk about whether or not the Chicana has a lover or not. The actress then describes her personal life. She tells her audience that she lives isolated in the desert; she drives a nice car and has nice luxuries. She is also different than other movie stars; for instance, she works out at the YMCA rather than having a personal trainer like most stars do. She describes her dislike of many people, which is why she lives alone in the desert. She does not need to put on makeup and fix her hair in the desert; she is simply free. This story plays on the idea of foreign as anything not American, not English. The actress is marginalized by her looks and accents. The actress uses the lower case “i” throughout the story to indicate a sense of loss in identity. The search for identity presents itself over and over in the story as the actress pursues different words to describe herself. For instance, she is not black, nor white (174). The subtitles in the story resonate with the postmodern idea of identity.
24. La Miss Rose
Peel My Love Like An Onion
Castillo's fourth novel, Peel My Love like An Onion, was published in 1999. The novel's protagonist is Carmen "La Coga" Santos(Carmen the crippled)a Chicana flamenco dancer from Chicago. Carmen's left leg is shriveled from contracting polio when she was six. Carmen's disability is a major source of her insecurity, her leg is described as dead and gnarled. Castillo's literary style echos the style used in her book "Loverboys" like the use of stream of consciousness. Peel My Love Like An Onion, also echos some reoccurring themes like, Chicana identity, sexuality, family duty. The novel is split into ten chapters,each chapter contains four to seven installments. Each installment is independent from the story before it. The first chapter focuses on Carmen's early life: the beginning of her dancing, her affair with Agustin, the manager of her dance troupe, and her love for Manolo, Agustin's godson. Carmen and Agustin's affair has last seventeen years, in chapter three its revealed that Carmen miscarried their lovechild.Their relationship is turbulent and destructive. Carmen's disappointment with Agustin's attitude and appreciation of her, encourages her to purse Manolo. By Chapter Five, both men eventually leave Carmen when she discovers that her polio has resurfaced . Carmen's struggle through her disease strengths her character's identity as "Cameron La Coga". Carmen recovers in chapter eight and returns to her life, without the lovers. Carmen's life changes forever when she sings a contract with a recorded label as a singer and moves to Hollywood. Carmen's new position gives her freedom, confidence and stability. At the end of the novel Carmen is seeing both Manolo and Agustin but she decides that whoever she chose to be with, the important thing is that she is the one that makes the choice. Carmen develops here identity independently of Agustin and Manolo, who claim to love her and overcomes her insecurities about her disease.
Castillo’s most recent novel, The Guardians (2007), features an array of characters, both male and female, at varying points in their lives searching to find meaning within their lives. The novel is set in a small town in New Mexico on the US-Mexico border and presents the main character, Regina, as a middle aged virgin, who takes care of her teenaged nephew Gabriel (Gabo), who displays a particular interest in the Catholicism. The story is centered around their search for her missing brother, Rafael (Rafa), who is Gabo’s father and has not been heard from/seen since crossing back into Mexico. Miguel, a divorced local high school history teacher, once aspired to be a revolutionary, but had to settle for community activism. El Abuelo Milton, Miguel’s grandfather, provides a crystallized sense of wisdom, using his experience and previously gained knowledge to aid the group in their endeavors.
The Guardians delves into the issues of the physical border between New Mexico and Mexico and details some of the struggles that those who live on the border face. Coyotes, hired help to assist immigrants in crossing the border, are featured prevalently. The novel is told from the perspective of the four main characters: Regina, Gabo, Miguel, and El Abuelo Milton. Each chapter is narrated from a different point of view amongst the four. Castillo’s structuring of the novel allows the reader to examine the same events from multiple viewpoints.
The story begins in Cabuche, a town near El Paso, Texas, with Regina’s first person account of her present situation. She describes how she has not heard any news of her brother Rafa in eight days. Rafa, Gabo’s father, does not possess legal U.S. citizenship and is forced to illegally cross the border for work. Rafa left Gabo, his son, in Regina’s care before departing for Mexico. Having successfully crossed the border for years, it soon becomes apparent that something has gone wrong on Rafa’s latest crossing attempt. Rafa’s disappearance and Regina’s and the other main characters’ search for him drives the action of the novel.
Regina works as a teacher’s aide at a local school where she meets Miguel, a history teacher at the school. Regina requests aid from Miguel in her search for Rafa and Miguel complies, taking Regina to the location of a phone number from which Regina received last word of Rafa’s situation. Miguel traces the number to a rundown, crime ridden part of town, specifically to a house owned by Coyotes, who are individuals employed by the Mexican cartels. Miguel forces entry into the house and attempts to get information about Rafa from a Coyote but ultimately learns nothing new. As they leave the house, Regina and Rafa are spotted by another Coyote and leave the neighborhood in a hurry so as to avoid an altercation. Because of their newly shared interest in finding Rafa, Miguel and Regina take an odd liking to one another and commence a complicated almost romantic but-not-quite-so relationship.
Not long after their run in with the Coyotes, Regina and Miguel attend Sunday Mass to hear Gabo’s scripture reading. On this particular Sunday, Gabo’s faith takes a mystical turn when he witnesses a crucifix bleeding during mass. This occurrence galvanizes Gabo’s faith and marks the beginning of his religious journey in the novel.
After attending Mass, Miguel and Regina go to visit Miguel’s grandfather, El Abuelo Milton. Milton, blind in daytime and nearly deaf in his old age, takes a liking to Regina and ultimately becomes involved in her search for Rafa. Though blind for all intents and purposes, Milton possesses a wealth of wisdom and has the sagely ability to “see” beyond the superficial qualities of people and situations.
Gabo’s desire to spread the word of God combined with his desire to find his father, Rafa, causes Gabo to fall in with a local gang, the Los Palominos. One particular gang member, a girl named Tiny Tears, catches Gabo’s eye. Gabo loves her both romantically and out of a desire to help her change her sinful ways. In addition to hoping the Los Palominos can help him find his father, Gabo hopes to spread the word of God among them.
The Los Palominos eventually agree to help Gabo search for his father, in exchange for compensation. Gabo and two Los Palominos, Jesse and Tiny Tears, stake out the Coyote owned house that Regina and Miguel had previously visited. After a long wait, they are picked up by El Toro, Jesse’s older brother experienced Los Palominos leader. On their drive back from the Coyote house, Gabo and the Los Palominos are pulled over by the police. They are all arrested but Gabo. Gabo lies to the deputy about what he was doing and where he lives but the deputy is able to discern that Gabo is a good kid in the wrong place with the wrong crowd at the wrong time. Gabo calls El Abuelo Milton, who comes to the police station and takes Gabo home. Milton sees beyond the obvious fact that Gabo was involved with a gang and understands that Gabo’s real motive was to find Rafa.
Regina never finds out about Gabo’s arrest. After his ordeal, Gabo is shaken and decides to stay at the rectory with Father Bosco, the parish priest. Regina is concerned for Gabo’s well-being and wonders if his mental health is deteriorating. Given that Gabo’s mother was killed when he was young and that his father may well be dead also, Regina’s speculation is not implausible. Gabo’s condition, however, seems more of a spiritual nature, as he feels he has betrayed God’s trust in him.
Miguel, divorced but in good standing with his ex-wife, discusses his familial problems and failed dreams in many of his chapters. Having once fancied himself a social and cultural revolutionary, Miguel has since settled for participation in local causes pertaining to the environment and human rights on the U.S. Mexico border. In one of Miguel’s chapters, taking place after Gabo’s arrest and self-imposed exile, he shares the story of Rafa’s disappearance with his ex-wife, Crucita. Crucita, now involved with an Evangelist minister, volunteers at women’s shelters both in the U.S. and Mexico and crosses the border regularly. Moved by Miguel’s mission, Crucita volunteers to seek out information about Rafa the next time she crosses the border.
Gabo eventually returns to Regina and life in Cabuche seems to be finally slowing down. Regina, Gabo, Miguel, and Milton have become something of a family at this point in the novel. Regina and Miguel continue to spend time together, Gabo continues to fall deeper into a mystic spiritual state, and Milton finds himself becoming part of his new unconventional family.
Life for Gabo, however, has not become any simpler. Gabo’s studies have begun to fail and he has taken to preaching the Gospel around school in brown monk’s robes. On one occasion, Gabo stands on a table in the lunchroom to preach and is overtaken by some unknown force. He collapses and discovers that he has been given the Stigmata. The wounds on Gabo’s hands appear genuine and not self-inflicted.
Regina, Gabo, Miguel, and Milton continue their search for Rafa. Regina visits a government office in Mexico that is dedicated to helping keep immigrants safe but has no luck in getting any information about Rafa. Milton goes around town asking people about Rafa but also finds no success. News comes that several people were found dead in the desert on the Mexican side of the border. Miguel, Milton, and Gabo travel to the coroner to possibly identify Rafa’s body but again find no answers.
Gabo is given a note by Tiny Tears of the Los Palominos gang in which he is promised information regarding Rafa’s whereabouts. For the information, Gabo would have to help Jesse break El Toro out of prison. Torn between his Christian morality and his desire to find his father, Gabo is left in a quandary. Miguel discovers the note and confronts Gabo about it. Ultimately, Gabo decides not to participate in the prison break.
A few days after Gabo received his note from Tiny Tears, Miguel finds a note in his car that informs him of his ex-wife Crucita’s abduction. Suspecting the Los Palominos, Miguel goes to the police for their help. An investigation is begun but no concrete action results. Miguel investigates Crucita’s disappearance as best he can, fails, and goes into a deep depression. Miguel’s depression is only broken when Milton intervenes.
Regina, Milton, Gabo, Miguel, and Father Bosco meet and decide to take the law into their own hands. They all believe that the Los Palominos has information regarding Rafa and Crucita and may in fact be behind Crucita’s abduction. The group seeks out Jesse of the Los Palominos and confronts him. Jesse promises to take them to where Crucita is being held. Jesse also reveals that Tiny Tears discovered a meth-lab in the Coyote house from earlier in the story. Miguel, Gabo, and Father Bosco race with Jesse to Tornillo, the place where Crucita is allegedly being held. Milton calls Regina and informs her of this development and Regina races to catch up with the group. Speeding, Regina is pulled over by the nice deputy who had dealt with Gabo. The deputy tells Regina that the police are conducting a raid at the Tornillo location and the Coyote house. They race to catch up with Miguel, Gabo, and Father Bosco.
Following Jesse’s directions, Miguel, Gabo, and Father Bosco arrive at the house in Tornillo ahead of the police and Regina. They enter the house, find Tiny Tears and Crucita drugged, tied up, and naked on a couch. El Toro is found in another room. Miguel frees Crucita and begins to carry her outside. Gabo, finally in a position to “save” Tiny Tears, attempts to free her. Tiny Tears, in confusion and out of fear, tries to prevents Gabo from helping her. At this point, the police arrive outside. The police order everybody to vacate the house with their hands up. As Gabo exits the house, the police begin firing. Gabo goes down, but not from gunfire; Tiny Tears had stabbed him from behind.
It is revealed that Rafa had been found dead by the police at the Coyote house. Having been forced by the Coyotes to make meth, he was killed by exposure to toxic chemicals.
The novel ends with Regina reflecting on Rafa’s and Gabo’s deaths. Regina has taken to visiting Tiny Tears, whose real name is Maria Dolores, in prison. She has also adopted Tiny Tears’ baby, who she has named Gabriela. Regina finds solace in the Book of Matthew, Gabo’s favorite Gospel. She tries to live the message of forgiveness taught not necessarily by Jesus, but by Gabo.
Many of the passages in-between the passages that deal with the main action of the novel delve into the personal histories of the characters. Regina discusses her relationship with her deceased mother and her eccentric yet lackluster entrepreneurial endeavors, Miguel discusses his failed marriage, failed dreams, and community activism, Milton discusses his long eventful life and how society has changed, and Gabo discusses his tumultuous spiritual life. These reflective chapters are important to the reader’s understanding of the characters and help provide a comprehensive picture of life on the U.S. Mexico border and the issues faced by those who live there.
Regina, the main protagonist of The Guardians is a middle-aged, strong willed, independent widow who, until her nephew Gabo entered her life, lived alone in her small home in the desert. Her hair is red. Her husband, a National Guardsman, was shipped off to Vietnam the morning after their wedding. They never consummated their marriage and Regina remains a virgin. She works as a teacher’s aide at a local school and also receives veteran’s benefits from the government. She is a capable gardener, tinkerer, cook, baker, and mechanic. Regina watches over her nephew Gabo, whose father and her brother, Rafa, went missing while trying to cross the U.S. Mexican border. Regina develops romantic feelings for Miguel, though it is not clear to what extent they reach.
Gabo is the son of Rafa, who went missing in the desert, and the nephew of Regina, who now watches over him. His mother was killed in the desert when he was a young boy. Described as a hard working teenager, Gabo works at a local convenience store. He attends the local high school. A devout Catholic, Gabo writes to the Catholic mystic, Padre Pio. He aspires to one day become a Catholic priest. Gabo experiences several supernatural experiences throughout the course of the novel. Notably, he witnesses a crucifix bleeding and, on a separate occasion, receives what appears to be a genuine stigma. A boy of strong Christian conviction, Gabo is often torn between the idealism of Christian teachings and the brutal realism of life on the U.S. Mexico border.
Miguel, a history teacher at the local high school, is a good looking man in his thirties. He is divorced and has two children. He lives directly across the street from his ex-wife and children. Miguel once had aspirations of becoming a revolutionary for social and political change but has since given up on those ambitions. He settled for community activism instead. Involved in issues ranging from the environment, immigration, and human trafficking, Miguel informs the reader on real, pertinent issues that have arisen on the U.S. Mexico border. Miguel has feelings for Regina, but fails to act substantively on them. El Abuelo Milton is his grandfather.
El Abuelo Milton
El Abuelo Milton, a man of advanced age, is Miguel’s grandfather. Milton is blind, but only during the day, and is nearly deaf. He fought in WWII but was discharged after striking a superior officer during a dispute. Milton worked odd jobs in and around El Paso before eventually opening a bar which he maintained for a number of years. Though he was married, Milton had a bad habit of cheating on his wife and drinking too much. Those habits died, however, when he and his wife had children. El Abuelo Milton’s sagely wisdom, deep insights, and informed criticisms offer the reader a unique insight on people and events of The Guardians. Milton takes a grandfatherly liking to Gabo.
The Guardians deftly communicates several themes and motifs. There is a strong connection to spirituality and it is best depicted through each character’s relationship with faith. Catholicism is predominantly featured throughout the novel, especially by Gabo in his devotion to Padre Pio and a future as a clergyman. Gabo also introduces another important aspect of this novel by way of his stigmata experience. Not only does this bolster the significance of faith, even its extremes, but also the concept of magical realism. This concept engages both realistic and magical components in its subject’s portrayal. Castillo expertly integrates the sobering reality of her characters’ socio-economic, political and regional circumstances alongside the power of supernatural phenomenon. Identity provides as another distinctive element in the novel. While each character is focused on reaching a different juncture, they are all connected in their sense of identity in relating to the Mexico-United States border issue, specifically pertaining to New Mexico in this narrative. Rafa’s character represents this connection and it is what gives the other characters a sense of solidarity. Rafa symbolizes all the individuals who never made it across the border on part of the coyotes, physical exhaustion, limited knowledge of successful passage and legal repercussions. Discovering Rafa’s fate acts as a kind of vindication for the characters and the plight they all have experienced. Collectively, these themes and motifs acquaint the reader with Castillo’s intelligent treatment of the social and political issues discussed.
- The Mixquiahuala Letters. Binghamton, N.Y. : Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingue, 1986. ISBN 0-916950-67-0
- Sapogonia: An anti-romance in 3/8 meter. Tempe, Arizona: Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 1990. ISBN 0-916950-95-6
- So Far From God. New York: W.W. Norton, 1993. ISBN 0-393-03490-9
- Peel My Love Like an Onion. New York : Doubleday, 1999. ISBN 0-385-49676-1
- My Daughter, My Son, the Eagle the Dove: An Aztec Chant. New York: Dutton Books, 2000. ISBN 0-525-45856-5
- Watercolor Women, Opaque Men : A Novel in Verse. Willimantic, Connecticut: Curbstone Press, 2005. ISBN 978-1-931896-20-7
- The Guardians. New York: Random House, 2007. ISBN 978-1-4000-6500-4
- Loverboys. New York: W.W. Norton, 1996. ISBN 0-393-03959-5
- Otro Canto. Chicago: Alternativa Publications, 1977.
- The Invitation. 1979
- Women Are Not Roses. Houston: Arte Público Press, 1984. ISBN 0-934770-28-X
- My Father Was a Toltec and selected poems, 1973-1988. New York: Norton, 1995. ISBN 0-393-03718-5
- I Ask the Impossible. New York: Anchor Books, 2000. ISBN 0-385-72073-4
- "Women Don't Riot"
- Massacre of the Dreamers: Essays on Xicanisma. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1994. ISBN 0-8263-1554-2
- Esta puente, mi espalda: Voces de mujeres tercermundistas en los Estados Unidos (with Norma Alarcón). San Francisco: ism press, 1988. (Spanish adaptation of This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Cherríe Moraga.)
- The Sexuality of Latinas (co-editor, with Norma Alarcón and Cherríe Moraga). Berkeley: Third Woman Press, 1993. ISBN 0-943219-00-0
- Goddess of the Americas: Writings on the Virgin of Guadalupe / La Diosa de las Américas: Escritos Sobre la Virgen de Guadalupe (editor). New York: Riverhead Books, 1996. ISBN 1-57322-029-9
Critical studies since 2000 (English only)
- Castillo's 'Burra, Me', 'La Burra Mistakes Friendship with a Lashing', and 'The Friend Comes Back to Teach the Burra' By: Ruiz-Velasco, Chris; Explicator, 2007 Winter; 65 (2): 121-24.
- 'The Pleas of the Desperate': Collective Agency versus Magical Realism in Ana Castillo's So Far From God By: Caminero-Santangelo, Marta; Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, 2005 Spring; 24 (1): 81-103.
- Violence in the Borderlands: Crossing the Home Space in the Novels of Ana Castillo By: Johnson, Kelli Lyon; Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, 2004; 25 (1): 39-58.
- Literary Syncretism in Ana Castillo's So Far From God By: Alarcón, Daniel Cooper; Studies in Latin American Popular Culture, 2004; 23: 145-52.
- The Second Tower of Babel: Ana Castillo's Borgesian Precursors in The Mixquiahuala Letters By: Jirón-King, Shimberlee; Philological Quarterly, 2003 Fall; 82 (4): 419-40.
- Creating a Resistant Chicana Aesthetic: The Queer Performativity of Ana Castillo's So Far from God By: Mills, Fiona; CLA Journal, 2003 Mar; 46 (3): 312-36.
- The Homoerotic Tease and Lesbian Identity in Ana Castillo's Work By: Gómez-Vega, Ibis; Crítica Hispánica, 2003; 25 (1-2): 65-84.
- Ana Castillo's So Far from God: Intimations of the Absurd By: Manríquez, B. J.; College Literature, 2002 Spring; 29 (2): 37-49.
- Hybrid Latina Identities: Critical Positioning In-Between Two Cultures By: Mujcinovic, Fatima; Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños, 2001 Spring; 13 (1): 45-59.
- Con un pie a cada lado'/With a Foot in Each Place: Mestizaje as Transnational Feminisms in Ana Castillo's So Far from God By: Gillman, Laura; Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism, 2001; 2 (1): 158-75.
- La Llorona and a Call for Environmental Justice in the Borderlands: Ana Castillo's So Far from God By: Cook, Barbara J.; Northwest Review, 2001; 39 (2): 124-33.
- Chicana/o Fiction from Resistance to Contestation: The Role of Creation in Ana Castillo's So Far from God By: Rodriguez, Ralph E.; MELUS, 2000 Summer; 25 (2): 63-82.
- Rebellion and Tradition in Ana Castillo's So Far from God and Sylvia López-Medina's Cantora By: Sirias, Silvio; MELUS, 2000 Summer; 25 (2): 83-100.
- Gritos desde la Frontera: Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, and Postmodernism By: Mermann-Jozwiak, Elisabeth; MELUS, 2000 Summer; 25 (2): 101-18.
- Chicana Feminist Narratives and the Politics of the Self By: Elenes, C. Alejandra; Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, 2000; 21 (3): 105-23.
- 'Saint-Making' in Ana Castillo's So Far from God: Medieval Mysticism as Precedent for an Authoritative Chicana Spirituality By: Sauer, Michelle M.; Mester, 2000; 29: 72-91.
- Shea, Renee H. "No Silence for This Dreamer: The Stories of Ana Castillo." Poets & Writers 28.2 (Mar.-Apr. 2000): 32-39. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Edu. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Vol. 151. Detroit: Gale Group, 2002. Literature Resource Center. Web. 12. Sept. 2013.
- Determined to Indeterminacy: Pan-American and European Dimensions of the Mestizaje Concept in Ana Castillo's Sapogonia By: Köhler, Angelika. IN: Bottalico and Moncef bin Khalifa, Borderline Identities in Chicano Culture. Venice, Italy: Mazzanti; 2006. pp. 101–14
- Ana Castillo (1953-) By: Castillo, Debra A.. IN: West-Durán, Herrera-Sobek and Salgado, Latino and Latina Writers, I: Introductory Essays, Chicano and Chicana Authors; II: Cuban and Cuban American Authors, Dominican and Other Authors, Puerto Rican Authors. New York, NY: Scribner's; 2004. pp. 173–93
- The Spirit of a People: The Politicization of Spirituality in Julia Alvarez's In the Time of the Butterflies, Ntozake Shange's sassafrass, cypress & indigo, and Ana Castillo's So Far from God By: Blackford, Holly. IN: Groover, Things of the Spirit: Women Writers Constructing Spirituality. Notre Dame, IN: U of Notre Dame P; 2004. pp. 224–55
- 'A Question of Faith': An Interview with Ana Castillo By: Kracht, Katharine. IN: Alonso Gallo, Voces de América/American Voices: Entrevistas a escritores americanos/Interviews with American Writers. Cádiz, Spain: Aduana Vieja; 2004. pp. 623–38
- A Chicana Hagiography for the Twenty-first Century By: Alcalá, Rita Cano. IN: Gaspar de Alba, Velvet Barrios: Popular Culture & Chicana/o Sexualities. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan; 2003. pp. 3–15
- Ana Castillo as Santera: Reconstructing Popular Religious Praxis By: Pérez, Gail. IN: Pilar Aquino, Machado and Rodríguez, A Reader in Latina Feminist Theology: Religion and Justice. Austin, TX: U of Texas P; 2002. pp. 53–79
- A Two-Headed Freak and a Bad Wife Search for Home: Border Crossing in Nisei Daughter and The Mixquiahuala Letters By: Cooper, Janet. IN: Benito and Manzanas, Literature and Ethnicity in the Cultural Borderlands. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Rodopi; 2002. pp. 159–73
- New Visions of Community in Contemporary American Fiction: Tan, Kingsolver, Castillo, Morrison By: Michael, Magali Cornier. Iowa City: U of Iowa P; 2006.
- Exploding the Western: Myths of Empire on the Postmodern Frontier By: Spurgeon, Sara L.. College Station, TX: Texas A&M UP; 2005.
- Ana Castillo By: Spurgeon, Sara L.. Boise: Boise State U; 2004.
- Contemporary American Fiction Writers: An A-Z Guide. Edited by Champion, Laurie and Rhonda Austin Westport: Greenwood, 2002.
- Manríquez, B.J. "Ana Castillo". The American Mosaic: The Latin American Experience. ABC-CLIO. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
- Hampton, Janet Jones (Jan-Feb 2000). Américas 52 (1): 48–53.
- Shea, Renee H. "No Silence for This Dreamer: The Stories of Ana Castillo." Poets & Writers 28.2 (Mar.-Apr. 2000): 32-39. Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism. Edu. Jeffrey W. Hunter. Vol. 151. Detroit: Gale Group, 2002. Literature Resource Center. Web. 12. Sept. 2013.
- Calafell, Bernadette Marie. "Ana Castillo". The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
- Chabram-Dernersesian, Angie (2006). The Chicana/o Cultural Studies Reader. London/New York: Routledge. p. 208. ISBN 0415235154.
- Juffer, Jane. "On Ana Castillo's Poetry". Modern American Poetry.
- Saeta, Elsa (1997). "A MELUS Interview: Ana Castillo". MELUS 22.3 (Fall): 133–149.
- Herrera, Cristina. "Chicana Feminism". Encyclopedia of Women in Today's World. SAGE Publications. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
- Castillo, Ana. Ana Castillo. 2013. http://www.anacastillo.com/content/. 13 September 2013.
- "Guide to Ana Castillo's Papers". University of California - Santa Barbara. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
- Romero, Simon. "An Interview with Ana Castillo". Modern American Poetry. New Mexico NuCity. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
- Linhard, Tabea Alexa. Fearless Women in the Mexican Revolution and the Spanish Civil War. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri, 2005. Print.
- Castillo, Ana. "Who Was Juana Gallo?" Loverboys. New York: W.W. Norton &, 1996. 23-31. Print.
- "Britannica Academic Edition". ©2013 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
- Official site
- Ana Castillo Poetry Foundation biography and poetry podcast
- Comprehensive interview with Ana Castillo published in Fifth Wednesday Journal
- Voices from the Gaps biography
- Guide to the Ana Castillo papers at the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives
- Modern American Poetry
- Esta puente, mi espalda: Voces de mujeres tercermundistas en los Estados Unidos (co-translator & co-editor, 1988). San Francisco: ism press. ISBN 978-0-910383-19-6 (paperback); ISBN 978-0-910383-20-2 (hardcover)