Rebozos de Palabras
An Helena María Viramontes Critical Reader
Helena María Viramontes is a professor, scholar-activist, and renowned author of works of fiction and nonfiction. Her work has been anthologized and is read widely in the United States and abroad. For many of her readings and speaking engagements she arrives wearing a rebozo, a shawl worn by Mexican and Chicana women living on both sides of the US–Mexico border. Once, when asked about her rebozo, Viramontes explained that the pre-Columbian icon is her “security blanket,” which she embraces in order to find comfort. For her readers, her writing functions like a “rebozo de palabras,” a shawl woven with words that nurture.
As Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs points out in her insightful introduction, not only has Viramontes’s work not yet received the broad critical engagement it richly deserves, but there remains a monumental gap in the interpretations of Chicana literature that reach mainstream audiences. Rebozos de Palabras addresses this void by focusing on how the Chicana image has evolved through Viramontes’s body of work. With a foreword by Sonia Saldívar-Hull, this collection addresses Viramontes entire oeuvre through newly produced articles by major literary critics and emerging scholars who engage Viramontes’s writing from multiple perspectives.
“Rebozos de Palabras is the perfect guide for discussing Viramontes’s incredible body of work. A number of these essays provide a sophisticated intellectual framework that allows readers to discover why she’s an essential American writer.”—Rigoberto González, editor of Camino del Sol: Fifteen Years of Latina and Latino Writing
“Rebozos de Palabras is weaving a third space, nepantla, filled with memories, voices, and historias. It negotiates spaces, places, faces, and lenguas into colorful visibility and agency. Through the work of critics we become embraced within the shawl Viramontes constructs through sounds, words, voices, dialogues, and action.”—Rosalía Solórzano
“This book is a major contribution to the works of Helena María Viramontes. It is organized with the intent of covering the simple, yet complex and intriguing world that surrounds Viramontes’ fiction. Gutiérrez and Muhs’ selection of articles clearly reflects the vast literary knowledge she has of Viramontes’ writings, and the intimate understanding of the social concerns that Viramontes’ fiction presents to us.”-- Jesús Rosales, Arizona State University