Brown, Down and Dirty

5 Apr

Since my rebellious youth I have always been drawn to outsider literature—Manchild in A Promised Land, Soul On Ice, Down these Mean Streets,Animal Factory. .On to James Baldwin, Richard Wright, John Fante and George Orwell. If there was hard boiled chicano literature I missed it but Ben Bac Sierra’s debut novel Barrio Bushido (EL Leon Literary Arts) goes a long way to filling spaces that cartoon movies like Colors left blank.

Bac Sierra whose biography is as riveting as his fiction tells of the lives of three young hispanics, Lobo, Toroi and Santo in San Francisco’s barrio, living brutal and brutalized lives in thrall to a gangster code of conduct. Louise Nayer, ( Burned: A Memoir) opines:

Bac Sierra’s novel a… speaks of the wounds of poverty and racism and of the world of crime and heartbreak. Ultimately the novel is about what both bonds and separates us from our friends, families, and homes. Written in gritty and evocative language, … resonates with a raw energy that sings off the page.

Karl Marlantes (Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War) Bac Sierrea’s stable mate at El Leon, rhapsodizes


.. Bac Sierra moves from lyrical beauty to savage brutality with all the grace of the symbolic matador who haunts his gripping novel of criminal life in a California barrio. [His] voice gets inside your head and stays there, binding the reader to the compelling narrative as tightly as the novel’s characters are bound to the twisted code of criminal honor that leads to their tragic downfall.

Es Verdad.

One Response to “Brown, Down and Dirty”

  1. benbacsierra April 30, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    April 30, 2011

    Hello Robert,

    Hope all’s well! As you may know, in the few months since Barrio Bushido’s release, it has generated intense enthusiasm all over the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Through a grassroots campaign, approximately one thousand copies were sold in less than two months. To date over one hundred libraries are stocking it, many of them university libraries, including Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia’s. This semester alone professors are using Barrio Bushido in twelve college sections. World Literature Today has designated me as an “emerging international author,” and I have received positive, glowing reviews from the New York Journal of Books, The American Library Association, and The San Francisco Chronicle, amongst others. Recently the University of North Dakota, Scripps College, and UC Berkeley (their famous “Story Hour” series) have invited me to present my book. For January and February 2011, Barrio Bushido was my national distributor SPD’s best seller.

    As New York Journal of Books’ reviewer Paula Schuck states: “this story is an important social statement on a time and place in history that demands attention and should be read.” Barrio Bushido is a groundbreaking novel that transforms the cliché Latino criminal into a vato loco philosopher. The Barrio Bushido movement intends to empower disenfranchised groups so that they can reach their full educational and philosophical potential.

    Robert, although we do not know each other personally, I would like to talk with you about a variety of things. One, I am coming to the East Coast in June. If possible, I’d like to meet and set up an interview. Also, I am working on a new non-fiction text about my entire educational experience, from kindergarten through law school. I plan to have it completed by September of this year. I’d love to dialogue about the business and learn from you.

    To find out more about my ideas, please visit my blog at Finally, don’t hesitate to e-mail me you have any questions:

    Thank you.

    All My Best,
    Ben Bac Sierra

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: