Fiction •  Southwest and Chicano/a

$21.95 hardcover

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The Border Is Burning

Ito Romo

2013 Southwest Books of the Year

Loners, families, fathers, wives—anyone who lives on the border between Mexico and the United States also lives on a border of violence and complexity. Here a master of Chicano noir explores that world in lean and haunting stories that you will never forget.


Ito Romo teaches literature and creative writing at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. He is the author of El Puente/The Bridge, also available from UNM Press.


“This suite of Romo cuentitos evokes a world in which chaos is rampant, and the gyre of events is ever-widening, threatening to explode. Yet these stark vignettes nonetheless show great compassion for people who Romo says are usually dismissed as ‘villains, lepers, and murderers.’”


Texas Monthly

“The result of (Romo’s) direct and unflinching language is a work of fiction that denies any predilections toward glossing over situations, but that is Romo’s gift: he forces us not only to look but also to actually see these characters and admit that these lives mirror the lives of people we would like to ignore or forget.”


Concho River Review

The Border is Burning is a ferocious portrait of San Antonio and Laredo and the landscape in-between. Filled with desperation and despair, told in sparse, gritty language and dialogue that is remarkable for its authenticity, Ito Romo’s stories are like scenes suddenly flashed in a lightning storm, sharp and brilliant, like shards of glass on a highway. These stories will be compared to Raymond Carver, but their true lineage is from Juan Rulfo. Without any sentimentality, yet written with a lot of heart, Ito Romo takes us to the belly of the beast.”


Sandra Cisneros

“Speed and day laborers, horse trailers and drug dealers, one-night stands that last all year—Ito Romo doesn’t just know the border, he knows the hearts of the people who live there. And he writes it on the page with blood. You better buy at least two copies of this book. Because you’ll be giving it away, making people read it. But you want one for yourself, too. It’s fiction that stays with you.”


Stephen Graham Jones, author of Growing Up Dead in Texas

“Romo’s short stories cut the reader like a knife. His dark and authentic vision of life along the border captures the gritty reality of social relations in the era of free trade and narco economics. There are no innocents on either side of the U.S./Mexico divide. Everyone is implicated in the exchange of drugs, love, guns, grace, and bodily fluids. Romo’s riveting gothic prose is a fresh iteration of Latino noir, the perfect antidote to the saccharine-sweet convention of minority fiction, firmly placing him in the company of John Rechy and Junot Díaz.”


María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo, author of The Revolutionary Imagination in the Americas and the Age of Development

5 x 8 in. 102 pages