Ron Arias

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Ron Arias
Born Ronald Francis Arias
(1941-11-30) November 30, 1941 (age 74)
Los Angeles, California
Occupation novelist, journalist
Nationality US
Genre novel, memoir
Notable works The Road to Tamazunchale (1975)
Moving Target (2002)
Notable awards National Book Award (nominated)
Spouse Joan
Children 1

Literature portal

Ron Arias (born November 30, 1941) is a former senior writer and correspondent for People magazine and People en Español. He is also a highly regarded Chicano writer whose novel The Road to Tamazunchale has been called "one of the founding texts in Contemporary Chicano/a Literature."[1]


Early life[edit]

Arias is a native of Los Angeles, California. He attended Stuttgart American High School in Ludwigsburg, Germany. His university education includes Oceanside-Carlsbad Community College, Universidad de Barcelona, UC Berkeley, Universidad de Buenos Aires (where he studied Middle English under Jorge Luis Borges), and UCLA where he received a bachelor's degree in Spanish and a master's degree in journalism.[2]

Arias served in Andean Peru as a Peace Corps volunteer, and some of his experiences in the Andes inspired his novel, Road. Another influence on his decision to become a journalist was his search to learn why his father withdrew from the family after the Korean War. He spent 30 years as a journalist, 22 of them at People. He has also worked for Caracas Daily Journal, the Buenos Aires Herald, and contributed stories and columns to The New York Times, Revista Chicano/Riqueña, The Christian Science Monitor, The Nation, and the Los Angeles Times.[3] After retiring from magazine journalism in 2007, Arias taught biography-writing at California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Literary work[edit]

Arias has been called "a post-modernist who integrates in his fiction a keen eye for actual Mexican-American experience."[4] His work is influenced by twentieth-century Latin American literature.[5] Arias focuses on urban Chicano life, especially "the struggle between imagination and rationalism and the transcendent possibilities of ethnic pluralism."[4]

His best known work is The Road to Tamazunchale, for which there are around 20 critical studies listed at the MLA database. The novel radically breaks with the tradition of Chicano literature that focuses on learning to understand reality, constructing a Chicano version of history and bringing order to the world. Instead, Arias' protagonist is more a creator of worlds than an interpreter of them.[6]


Arias worked for People magazine from 1985 until 2007, and has become known both his interviews with famous people and for his coverage of major disasters all over the world. He says that he is "the magazine’s ‘parachute journalist.’On every continent, I covered five wars, famine, earthquakes, hurricanes, all kinds of disasters in Haiti, Somalia, Ethiopia, Australia, Vietnam, Moscow, you name it."[2] His first major disaster article was the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, which he was assigned simply because he was the only staff member who speaks Spanish.[2]

Marriage and children[edit]

Arias' only child is filmmaker Michael Arias, currently residing in Tokyo, Japan.

Philosophical and/or political views[edit]

The Road to Tamazunchale[edit]

This novel depicts the last days of Fausto Tejado, an old widower being cared for by his teenage niece in Los Angeles and occasionally visited by the spirit of his dead wife. Fausto spends his final days in a number of fantastic scenarios that suggest magic realism. Tamazunchale, while a real place, serves here as a metaphorical place, a magical place where wishes come true but that can never really be reached; the real town is never shown in the novel, but is used in the fantastical play that Fausto and his neighbors create called "The Road to Tamazunchale".

Published works[edit]

  • The Road to Tamazunchale, novel inspired by his time in Peru (1975) Bilingual Review Press, Univ. of Ariz.
  • Five Against the Sea, survival tale of five men who survived 142 days drifting at sea (1988) Dutton/Penguin.
  • "Healing from the Heart," with Dr. Mehmet Oz (1998), Dutton.
  • White's Rules: Saving Our Youth One Kid at a Time (with Paul D. White), story of a Canoga Park teacher's response to killing of a student (2007), Random House
  • Moving Target, a memoir (2002), Bilingual Review Press, Univ. of Ariz.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ UCLA Department of Spanish and Portuguese.
  2. ^ a b c CSU Dominguez Hill article on Arias (accessed March 2008)
  3. ^ Manuel Villar Raso and María Herrera-Sobek, "A Spanish Novelist's Perspective on Chicano/a Literature" Journal of Modern Literature 25.1 (2001) 17-34
  4. ^ a b DLB entry at
  5. ^ Latino Fiction Literature Analysis Chapter 2 Part 1
  6. ^ Luis Leal and Manuel M. Martin-Rodríguez, "Chicano Literature." The Cambridge History of Latin American Literature Ed. Roberto González Echevarría and Enrique Pupo-Walker. p.573.

Notes/Further reading[edit]

  • Julio A. Martínez, Chicano Scholars and Writers: A Bio-bibliographical Directory, Scarecrow, 1979
  • Cordelia Candelaria, Encyclopedia of Latino Popular Culture Greenwood, 2004
  • José David Saldívar. "The Ideological and the Utopian in Tomas Rivera's ...y no se lo trago la tierra and Ron Arias' The Road to Tamazunchale." Missions in Conflict: Essays on U.S.-Mexican Relations and Chicano Culture, Ed. Dietrich Briesemeister, Renate Schmidt-von Bardeleben, Bruce-Novoa and Johannes Gutenberg; Tübingen: Narr, 1986 (203-214)
  • Matt S. Meier. Mexican American Biographies: A Historical Dictionary, 1836-1987 Greenwood, 1988.
  • Bruce-Novoa, Juan; "Interview with Ron Arias" Journal of Ethnic Studies, 1976 Winter; 3 (4): 69-73.
  • Martinez, Eliud; "Ron Arias' The Road to Tamazunchale: Novel of the New Reality" Latin American Literary Review, 1977; 10: 51-63.
  • Lewis, Marvin A.; "On the Road to Tamazunchale" Revista Chicano-Riquena, 1978; 5 (4): 49-52.
  • Lattin, Vernon E.; "The 'Creation of Death' in Ron Arias' The Road to Tamazunchale" Revista Chicano-Riquena, 1982; 10 (3): 53-61.
  • Gingerich, Willard. "Aspects of Prose Style in Three Chicano Novels: Pocho, Bless Me, Ultima, and The Road to Tamazunchale" pp. 206–228 IN: Ornstein-Galicia, Jacob (ed.); Metcalf, Allan (bibliog.); Form and Function in Chicano English. Rowley, MA: Newbury House; 1984.
  • Nieto, Eva Margarita. "The Dialectics of Textual Interpolation in Ron Arias' The Road to Tamazunchale" pp. 239–246 IN: Lattin, Vernon E. (ed.); Contemporary Chicano Fiction: A Critical Survey. Binghamton, NY: Bilingual; 1986.
  • Candelaria, Cordelia. "Ron Arias (30 November 1941 - )" pp. 37–44 IN: Lomelí, Francisco A. (ed. and preface); Shirley, Carl R. (ed. and preface); Leal, Luis (foreword); Chicano Writers: First Series. Detroit, MI: Gale; 1989.
  • Lerat, Christian. "Apothéose et métamorphose dans The Road to Tamazunchale de Ron Arias" pp. 81–108 IN: Grandjeat, Yves-Charles (ed.); Ecritures hispaniques aux Etats-Unis: Mémoire et mutations. Aix-en-Provence: Université de Provence; 1990.
  • Lerat, Christian. "Ultime va-et-vient entre l'ici et l'ailleurs dans The Road to Tamazunchale" pp. 189–202 IN: Béranger, Jean (ed.); L'Ici et l'ailleurs: Multilinguisme et multiculturalisme en Amérique du Nord. Bordeaux: Presses de l'Université de Bordeaux; 1991.
  • Fabre, Geneviève; "Leave-Taking and Retrieving in The Road to Tamazunchale and The Ultraviolet Sky" The Bilingual Review/La Revista Bilingüe, 1991 May-Dec; 16 (2-3): 171-79.
  • Herrera, Andrea O'Reilly; "Ron Arias' The Road to Tamazunchale and the Idea of Death" The Americas Review: A Review of Hispanic Literature and Art of the USA, 1994 Fall-Winter; 22 (3-4): 114-24.
  • Lee, A. Robert. "Chicanismo as Memory: The Fictions of Rudolfo Anaya, Nash Candelaria, Sandra Cisneros, and Ron Arias" pp. 320–39 IN: Singh, Amritjit (ed.); Skerrett, Joseph T., Jr. (ed.); Hogan, Robert E.; Memory and Cultural Politics: New Approaches to American Ethnic Literatures. Boston: Northeastern UP; 1996.
  • Martín-Rodríguez, Manuel M. "Border Crisscrossing: The (Long and Winding) Road to Tamazunchale". pp. 181–206 IN: Hawley, John C. (ed. and introd.); Cross-Addressing: Resistance Literature and Cultural Borders. Albany, NY: State U of New York P; 1996.
  • "Marvelous Re-creations: Utopian Spatial Critique in The Road to Tamazunchale" By: Villa, Raúl Homero; Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, 1998 Spring; 23 (1): 77-94.
  • Camacho-Gingerich, Alina; "Tres escritores hispanos en EE.UU.: R. Arenas, R. Arias, R. Quesada" Cuadernos de Aldeeu, 2000; 16 (1): 177-82.
  • Childers, William. "Chicanoizing Don Quixote: For Luis Andrés Murillo" Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, 2002 Fall; 27 (2): 87-117.

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