Fresno State creative writing professor Alex Espinoza is celebrating publication of his latest novel, “The Five Acts of Diego León,” by Random House. He’ll read from the book 7 p.m. Thursday in Room 2206 of the Henry Madden Library Auditorium. Here’s a synopsis:
Growing up in a rural village at the height of the Mexican Revolution, Diego León shows an early interest in the dances, songs, and stories of his father’s ancestors, the P’urhépecha. But when tragedy strikes, young Diego is sent to the city to live with his aristocratic grandparents, who insist he forget his humble roots and groom him to take over the family business. Under pressure to enter a profession—and a marriage—he cares nothing for, and haunted by the violence once again erupting around him, Diego flees his war-torn country to forge his own destiny. Diego arrives in Hollywood in 1927, when Prohibition is in full swing, silent films are giving way to talkies, and every studio, large or small, is searching for a “Latin lover” of its own. Working his way up in the movie business with talent and ingenuity, Diego soon figures out that getting his face on the silver screen has as much to do with what goes on behind the camera as what goes on in front of it. But the closer he comes to stardom, the more Diego discovers that the painful legacies of history and the wounds of his homeland are not so easily escaped.
The Los Angeles Times caught up with Espinoza at the Festival of Books 2013 for this video interview.