In Magical Habits Monica Huerta draws on her experiences growing up in her family's Mexican restaurants and her life as a scholar of literature and culture to meditate on how relationships among self, place, race, and storytelling contend with both the afterlives of history and racial capitalism. Whether dwelling on mundane aspects of everyday life, such as the smell of old kitchen grease, or grappling with the thorny, unsatisfying question of authenticity, Huerta stages a dynamic conversation among genres, voices, and archives: personal and critical essays exist alongside a fairy tale; photographs and restaurant menus complement fictional monologues based on her family's history. Developing a new mode of criticism through storytelling, Huerta takes readers through Cook County courtrooms, the Cristero Rebellion (in which her great-grandfather was martyred by the Mexican government), Japanese baths in San Francisco—and a little bit about Chaucer too. Ultimately, Huerta sketches out habits of living while thinking that allow us to consider what it means to live with and try to peer beyond history even as we are caught up in the middle of it.
Duke University Press Scholars of Color First Book Award recipient