Ana Castillo is a Mexican-American author and scholar from Chicago, currently teaching creative non-fiction at Middlebury College in Santa Fe. Although she received her master’s degree at the University of Chicago, her PhD in American Studies was earned at the University of Bremen in Germany. Much of her early writing was poetry. More recently, she writes fiction and creative non-fiction. She is also the editor of La Tolteca Zine, an online literary magazine.
So Far from God, the story of Sofi and her four unusual daughters, has won many awards, including the Carl Sandburg Literary Award and the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award. Castillo is especially pleased that it was a banned book in Arizona. So Far from God is included in the National Parks list of 100 must-read books. Unless you are fluent in Spanish, be sure to read it with a Spanish-English dictionary at hand.
Chicano was originally a perjorative word for Mexicano, especially in the Southwest regions of the United States annexed from Mexico. In time, Mexican Americans adopted the word as a symbol of ethnic pride. In her book, Massacre of the Dreamers: Essays on Xicanisma, Castillo advocates using Xicanisma as the word for Chicana feminism. She felt that Chicano had become dry and boring. The x (pronounced like ch) honors Aztec ancestors and, as such, makes a political statement. Xicanisma rejects the black and white distinctions of man and woman for a more nuanced, blended version of gender.