Pushing the boundaries of Chicanx literature
Carribean Fragoza's collection of stories reside in the domestic surreal, gathering Latinx and Chicanx women voices from both sides of the U.S./Mexico border
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A young woman returns home from college, only to pick up exactly where she left off: a smart girl in a rundown town with no future. A mother reflects on the pain and pleasures of being inexorably consumed by her small daughter, whose penchant for ingesting grandma's letters has extended to taking bites of her actual flesh. A brother and sister watch anxiously as their distraught mother takes an ax to their old furniture, and then to the backyard fence, until finally she attacks the family’s beloved lime tree.
Carribean Fragoza's debut collection of stories, ‘Eat the Mouth that Feeds You’ ( City Lights Publishers, 2021) features imperfect Latinx women characters from both sides of the U.S /Mexico border that are drawn with a sympathetic tenderness as they struggle against circumstances and conditions designed to defeat them on both sides.
“In confrontations with fraught matrilineal lines, absent or abusive fathers, and the effects of historical violence, these women and girls navigate a male-dominated world where they rely on a resilient mujer network to get them through sometimes supernatural obstacles,” her publishers wrote.
The daughter of Mexican immigrants, Fragoza grew up in the peripheries of the Greater LA region and outside of Chicano communities of East LA that have largely come to define Chicano identity, including in culture and literature. “Rather than sticking to usual tropes of Chicanx and Latinx writing, I break onto new thematic territory with unique character voices and perspectives,” she says on her website.
“As the child of immigrants, I often felt like, especially being the oldest daughter, there was no real road map. I didn’t always know what I was doing and my parents didn’t speak English for a long long time, so I would have to translate things to them,” she told the ‘Los Angeles Times.’ “Going to college — which I knew was really important — they didn’t know how to help me with things like that, so I had to figure it out on my own.”
Fragoza culminated a Creative Writing MFA program at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). As a writer and artist, she likes to push the boundaries of Chicanx literature using experimental approaches and devices and freely borrow from international queer and feminist literary movements. She has been published widely as a journalist, including in LA Weekly and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She is also the founder and co-director of the South El Monte Art Posse (SEMAP), a multi-disciplinary arts collective.