Helena Maria Viramontes

American writer

Helena Maria Viramontes (born February 26, 1954) is an American fiction writer and English professor.


  • They grew up very Americanized, in West Los Angeles, and even though the community was very Mexican, they grew up listening to radio shows, being very much influenced by movies, by things like that. So between 1920 and 1940 it was very interesting time, where they were really trying to discover what it was to be American, even though my grandmother and grandfather were Mexican. It was a time that I’m excavating myself in my work because it was such a transition for them…
  • If we know each other’s history, we will be able to see parallels in this history. If the black students knew about the Jazz Quarter and the incredible historic events, I bet they would feel a certain pride. And the Central Americans would understand that there was a transformation and maybe have a little respect. Perhaps then there would maybe be more conversation between them. But if we don’t find those parallels, there’s going to be an incredible war.
  • I think it had to have begun pretty early on, [with] that life passion for the curiosity of people's lives and for their stories. As a kid, I would love to listen to my mother and to my aunt talking. When they would sit around the table to do tamales, for example – making tamales is a communal effort. One person can't make tamales, it's got to be a number of people. And so, several of my aunts and my mother would sit down around the table to put masa on the corn husks. And as they were doing that, they would share stories, share jokes, laugh, remember things, and I would love sitting under the table and just listening to all this…
  • There's tons of books out there about writers who suffer insecurities, who suffer all kinds of other ailments. To live in your head for a long time is a difficult thing, especially in terms of novelists, where you have this whole blueprint of this world in your head. I feel like, because I'm so much in my head, I forget that I have a real life, you know? That's a major challenge…

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