From This Wicked Patch of Dust: Pilar and Cuauhtemoc Martinez and their four children begin life in the shantytown of Ysleta on the United States-Mexico border. They struggle to stay together despite cultural clashes, different religions, and politics after September 11, 2001. Daughter Julieta is disenchanted with Catholicism and converts to Islam. Youngest son Ismael, always the bookworm, is accepted to Harvard but feels out of place in the Northeast where he meets and marries a Jewish woman. Will their shared history and once-common dreams be enough to hold together a family from Ysleta, this wicked patch of dust? Read online excerpt, or download PDF of First Chapter.

Discussion questions for From This Wicked Patch of Dust (PDF of discussion questions).

The Nature of Truth: Helmut Sanchez is a young researcher in the employ of renowned Yale professor Werner Hopfgartner. By chance, Helmut discovers a letter written decades ago by his boss mocking guilt over the Holocaust. Appalled, Helmut digs into the scholar's life and travels to Austria and Italy to uncover evidence of Hopfgartner's hateful past. What will Helmut do with the truth he discovers? Read online excerpt from revised 2014 edition, or download PDF of First Three Chapters.

Discussion questions for The Nature of Truth (PDF of discussion questions).

Listen to Sergio's reading of excerpts from his novel, The Nature of Truth: Podcast (mp3 audio format; 30 minutes).

Short Stories

Angie Luna --- A short story about a young man from El Paso, Texas who falls in love with an older woman from Mexico and rediscovers his Mexican heritage (PDF of Angie Luna).

Day of the Dead --- Lupe Perez crosses the Rio Grande to work for Helen Rogers in El Paso, Texas, in a story about the physical borders between us as well as the metaphysical borders between imagination and reality. (PDF of Day of the Dead).

Espiritu Santo --- Two elderly neighbors, who live in El Segundo Barrio, survive by helping each other in an often evil world. A philosophical story by Sergio Troncoso.

A Rock Trying To Be a Stone --- Three boys play a dangerous game that becomes a test of character on the Mexican-American border (PDF of A Rock Trying To Be a Stone).

Una Piedra Tratando de Volverse Roca --- Spanish translation of "A Rock Trying to be a Stone."

The Snake --- Tuyi, the fat boy everybody ignored, finds an adventure with a snake and a border patrolman in Ysleta.

Discussion questions for The Last Tortilla and Other Stories (PDF of discussion questions)--- “Angie Luna,” “Espiritu Santo,” “A Rock Trying to be a Stone,” and “The Snake” are included in this book of short stories.

Listen to Sergio's reading of excerpts from his short story collection, The Last Tortilla and Other Stories: Podcast (mp3 audio format; 38 minutes).


The Loss of Juarez- How has the violence in Juarez changed border culture? --- Troncoso discusses how the recent violence on the Mexican-American border has changed the unique binational, bicultural existence.

Fresh Challah --- Dolores Rivero, Troncoso's abuelita, taught him to fight for what is right, as well as to be self-critical, which helped him to appreciate Judaism (PDF of Fresh Challah).

Imagine Ysleta --- Chicanos, poor Chicanos, think about and debate moral questions, and Chicano writers should not ignore this part of life as it is.

A Day Without Ideas --- The ideas for stories are everywhere if we can resist seeing the world without curiosity.

Why Should Latinos Write Their Own Stories? --- The point of writing stories should be not only to preserve cultural heritage, but also to challenge it (PDF of Why Should Latinos Write Their Own Stories?).

“Fresh Challah,” “A Day Without Ideas,” and “Why Should Latinos Write Their Own Stories?” are included in Crossing Borders: Personal Essays.

Discussion questions for Crossing Borders (PDF of discussion questions).

La Última Tortilla: Tres Cuentos --- Spanish edition of three stories, “Angie Luna,” “The Last Tortilla,” and “Remembering Possibilities,” for the Kindle, Nook or iTunes: iBooks.

“I am in between. Trying to write to be understood by those who matter to me, yet also trying to push my mind with ideas beyond the everyday. It is another borderland I inhabit. Not quite here nor there. On good days I feel I am a bridge. On bad days I just feel alone.”
Sergio Troncoso, Crossing
Borders: Personal Essays