Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Sergio Troncoso and Willie Velasquez

I am writing a series of essays about my experiences as a Mexican American student at Harvard. I found the letter below in my papers, a recommendation from the great Willie Velasquez of the Southwest Voters Registration Education Project, whom I met at the John F. Kennedy School's Institute of Politics while I was an undergraduate. He was an IOP Fellow and probably the most inspiring person I met up to that point. His commitment to the Mexican American community, his political intelligence and savvy, and his character, all were guides for me as I became a writer who also cared about our community, how it was represented, why our voices and stories mattered, why I wanted to focus on los de abajo.

Recently, the Texas Institute of Letters made me a Fellow of the TIL, one of only eighteen fellows chosen since 1936 and the first Mexican American to be selected for this distinction. I thought about Willie's commitment and drive, and how the awards are not really what matter. What matters is what you do, and what you continue to do, because you give a damn and you are not ever satisfied. I'm proud to be a Fellow of the TIL, but I also feel that I need to get to work to keep fighting for not just the political but also the cultural empowerment of Mexicans Americans and those who are underdogs. Stay tuned. Descanse en paz, Willie Velasquez.
 

 

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Sergio Troncoso Is Named a Fellow of the Texas Institute of Letters


Here's some news that appeared on Monday, 1-16, with an announcement from Diana Lopez, President, and the Texas Institute of Letters. I'm honored to be part of the TIL.

"Dear Members of TIL,

At the January 7, 2023 meeting, the Council and Past Presidents of the Texas Institute of Letters voted unanimously to name Sergio Troncoso a Fellow of the Institute. Please join us in congratulating him.

In its 86-year-old history, the TIL has appointed only seventeen previous Fellows, an honorary designation meant to distinguish TIL members for their service and contributions to the organization. Troncoso is a recent past president of the TIL (2020-2022), who previously served as vice president, secretary, contest judge and councilor of the organization. At the January meeting, Troncoso was also appointed to the newly created position of investment officer of the TIL.

We are excited to share Troncoso's contributions to the TIL. During Troncoso’s tenure as president, he helped the TIL achieve a record number of submissions for the twelve annual literary contests of the Texas Institute of Letters; increased engagement with members that resulted in a record number paying their membership dues, resulting in two years of financial surpluses; and promoted the selection of lifetime achievement awards for Benjamin Alire Sáenz and Celeste Bedford Walker, the first African American to win that award. As president, Troncoso also challenged efforts to ban books in Texas by marshalling the organization to speak out against the banning of books in public libraries. As secretary and webmaster of the TIL, Troncoso created the electronic payment system that now receives about ninety percent of member dues and donations, as well as introduced videos, photographs, and social media to the TIL website.

Sergio Troncoso is the author of eight books. His most recent publication is Nobody’s Pilgrims (2022), a novel about three teenagers in pursuit of their American Dreams who drive across the country in a stolen pickup as evil people are after the contraband hidden in the truck. Among the numerous literary awards he has won are the Kay Cattarulla Award for Best Short Story, Premio Aztlán Literary Prize, International Latino Book Award for Best Novel-Adventure or Drama, International Latino Book Award for Best Collection of Short Stories, and the Southwest Book Award. The El Paso City Council voted unanimously to rename the public library branch in Ysleta as the Sergio Troncoso Branch Library. A Fulbright scholar, Troncoso teaches at the Yale Writers’ Workshop.

As a new TIL Fellow, Sergio Troncoso joins Steve Davis, W.K. Stratton, Carolyn Osborn, and Robert Flynn as current Fellows. Previous Fellows of the Institute have included John Graves, Marshall Terry, A.C. Greene, Tom Lea, and J. Frank Dobie."

https://texasinstituteofletters.org/

 

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Brad King Interviews Sergio Troncoso on Nobody's Pilgrims

The Downtown Writers Jam's Brad King has a lively conversation with Sergio Troncoso about his new novel, Nobody's Pilgrims, what advice he would give his younger self, what it is like to be a writer, good advice he received from others like Professor John Womack at Harvard, meeting George W. Bush at the Texas Book Festival, and a story about his childhood when he refused to work for his father because he wanted to focus on school. And the family fight that followed.

https://thewritersjam.com/after-party-episode-9-sergio-troncoso/

Monday, September 19, 2022

Words on a Wire Interviews Sergio Troncoso on Nobody's Pilgrims

On KTEP's Words on a Wire, Sergio Troncoso talks about the ideas behind NOBODY'S PILGRIMS, how he inadvertently predicted the pandemic, and questions of love, belonging, and how Mexican Americans should claim their home even far away from the border.

"I want to challenge, if you want to call it, the Chicano literary imagination. I believe Chicanos should conquer not just places like Austin, not just places like Califas and Los Angeles, but places like Connecticut, places like Massachusetts, places where we are not there traditionally. So, I believe we have to expand our literary imagination and our ambition. We are deeply part of this country, as immigrants, as writers, as people challenging the norms."

 

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/storytelling-and-the-writing-craft-with-sergio-troncoso/id269774230

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Nobody's Pilgrims Wins Best Novel- Adventure or Drama from ILBA

Last night in LA, Nobody’s Pilgrims won the Gold Medal for Best Novel- Adventure or Drama in English at the International Latino Book Awards. Thank you to Empowering Latino Futures, Las Comadres, and Reforma for this award.

Kirkus Reviews: "Troncoso delivers a surprisingly fast-paced, character-driven story.... A sublime, diverse cast drives this tale of looking for a safe, welcoming home."

Rigoberto González: "Sergio Troncoso has given us a timely dystopian tale heavy with anguish but invigorated by resilience."

 




Monday, August 1, 2022

Austin Liti Limits Interviews Sergio Troncoso

Scott Semegran of Austin Liti Limits interviews me about Nobody's Pilgrims, the writing craft, the connections between The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Nobody's Pilgrims, and if heaven exists what would I like to hear God say when I arrive at the check-in desk. Stay until the lighting round of questions at the end! I hope you enjoy it.

 


https://youtu.be/WfPaJ4yB4QY

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Lupita Reads Nobody's Pilgrims

Thank you, Lupita Aquino at Lupita Reads, for interviewing me about Nobody's Pilgrims. One of the questions I answer: If your book was a famous musician, who would it be?

Sergio Troncoso: "Nobody's Pilgrims would be Lil Nas X, because he doesn't fit anywhere exactly, he's constantly pushing across different boundaries of music and audiences, because he doesn't give a damn and just is who he wants to be, without fitting into predetermined boxes in the music industry or the expectations of others. Lil Nas X is creating his own road as he goes, upsetting people, opening people's minds, prompting serious questions about identity and culture, all of it like Nobody's Pilgrims."

https://lupitareads.substack.com/p/on-moral-luck-and-moral-grit#%C2%A7without-further-ado-our-special-guest-author-today-issergio-troncoso-author-of-nobodys-pilgrims

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Inklette Magazine's Conversation With Sergio Troncoso

A very in-depth interview (perhaps my most revealing in many years) with Devanshi Khetarpal of Inklette Magazine. Thank you, Devanshi, for the conversation.

---
“A deep freedom of consciousness,” Sergio says, “is what writing is about.” “Damn even yourself,” he says and advises writers not to fall for their own proclivities, judgements and tendencies. He wants to ask the toughest questions of himself, as much as he asks them of others around them and that’s why he loves writing. He said, “Let me be blunt. I don’t even think I know myself.” It’s a huge admission to come from a writer, and it is difficult to do what Sergio wants writers to do: to turn the lens onto our own selves as we do towards others.
---

https://inklettemagazine.com/2022/07/19/a-conversation-with-sergio-troncoso/

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Texas Monthly's Profile of Sergio Troncoso

In the August 2022 issue of Texas Monthly

"The ‘Nobody’ in the title is there because they’re outsiders,' Troncoso says. 'They don’t belong anywhere, even within their own families. They’re orphans—or are for all practical purposes.' Over the course of their drive across the country, Turi and Arnulfo are treated with suspicion and even outright hostility from complete strangers. The novel reflects Troncoso’s perspective that 'Mexicanos and undocumented immigrants are much more akin to the original Pilgrims.'

Nobody’s Pilgrims celebrates outsiders in general and immigrants in particular, an ethos that was central to Troncoso’s recent two-year tenure as president of the Texas Institute of Letters. 'I threw my heart and soul into the TIL,' he says. 'That meant representing all of Texas. We inducted more African Americans than ever before. During my tenure, we gave the Lifetime Achievement Award to Benjamin Alire Sáenz, who probably should have won it ten years ago. And this year we gave it to Celeste Bedford Walker, the first African American to ever win the award. It’s long overdue, in my opinion; she’s a great playwright. The organization truly is morphing into something beyond white guys from Dallas and Austin.'"

https://www.texasmonthly.com/arts-entertainment/sergio-troncoso-making-texas-literature-representative/

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

WKNY Interview of Sergio Troncoso

I loved chatting with Rita Vanacore of WKNY of Kingston, New York. What a great conversation we had about Nobody's Pilgrims, how I started as a writer, my motivations for telling stories about outsiders and the border, and the messages in my novel. Thank you, Rita, for an excellent interview!


https://radiokingston.org/en/archive/planet-seniors/episodes/sergio-troncoso-author-of-nobodys-pilgrims-shauna-kanter-of-the-voice-theatre