This is the story of a remarkable woman whose artistic mission was to relate Mexican cultural history to English-language readers. A world-renowned playwright in the 1930s and best-selling novelist in the 1940s, Josefina Niggli published at a time when Chicana/o literature was not yet recognized as such. Her works revealed Mexico from an insider's point of view, although she found herself struggling with publishers who wanted an American hero pitted against a Mexican villain. Niggli's life experience transpired in Mexico, Texas, the East Coast in the pre-World War II years, and North Carolina, with jaunts to Hollywood and to England, all in an era when few U.S. women writers were able to publish. Only recently has Niggli received critical attention as scholars of Chicana/o literature recognize her as one of the earliest Mexican American writers to focus on life lived between two cultures and nations. This scholarly biography, which includes selections from some of Niggli's unrecognized writings, is designed to solidify her place in the literary canon.
Elizabeth Coonrod Martinez is professor of Latin American literature and chair of Chicano and Latino studies at Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, California. She is also the translator of Lilus Kikus and Other Stories by Elena Poniatowska (UNM Press).