A Texan Renaissance

John Steinbeck once wrote that “Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word.”

Texas is not usually considered a literary hub, but in recent years the Texas literary scene has exploded. Even Texas Monthly has noted that the state is experiencing a golden age of literature. From the deep reaches of Texas comes a slew of genre-bending, form-challenging, and history-retelling novels, short story collections, and nonfiction histories. Authors who may not have been willing to stay in Texas and publish their work decades prior are finding there is a readership craving new and innovative takes on old Texan tropes. Here are some of the best.  


Tears of the Trufflepig: A Novel
Fernando Flores

In Tears of the Trufflepig, readers find themselves in a future dystopian Texas/Mexico borderlands where food is scarce, a third border wall might be built between the two nations, and narcotics are legal. The protagonist, Bellacosa, gets wrapped up in the illegal “filtering” or cloning, of extinct animals in an absurdist and inventive reimagining of Mexican mythos. 

Valleyesque: Stories
Fernando Flores

Flores’ most recent short story collection, Valleyesque, takes readers on a psychedelic and psychological journey through South Texas. This collection of short stories bends genres and borders, pulling the reader into increasingly surreal worlds. Flores is one of the most unique voices on the Texas literary scene today. 

Oscar Casares

Brownsville narrates the varied experiences of community members in Brownsville, Texas. Casares’ Brownville, located just about as south as you can get in Texas and just across the border from Matamoros, is home to a unique cast of characters. From the retired and widowed bowling champion who takes revenge on a thief to a young man who discovers a monkey head on his lawn and befriends the severed appendage, Brownsville narrates the stories of everyday people living in a border town. 

The Devil Takes You Home
Gabino Iglesias

The Devil Takes You Home tells the story of a father suddenly thrust into a supernatural world where the impossible is possible. Texas-noir at its best. 

The Last Karankawas: A Novel
Kimberly Garza

Garza weaves together several short stories that when taken together, form a beautiful novel that explores home, lineage, and community. Referencing the Indigenous inhabitants that called Galveston and the surrounding area their home, the Karankawas, the novel also gives voice to the ways in which place can tether and hold.

Lot: Stories
Bryan Washington

Washington’s Lot is an unshy look at the often overlooked members of Houston’s community. From young, male sex workers, to a family struggling to keep their family restaurant in business, to two friends who find a chupacabra along the bayou, Lot explores the hidden crevices that exist both inside and outside.

Forgetting the Alamo, or, a Blood Memory
Emma Pérez

Forgetting the Alamo, written by Chicana and scholar, Emma Pérez, takes on the larger-than-life mythos of the Alamo. Rather than tell a story about the heroics of the Alamo defenders, Pérez reveals the consequences of Texan independence on Mexican nationals. Following the story of Micaela, a young Tejano woman whose father was killed at the battle of San Jacinto and whose younger siblings were murdered in her absence, readers experience a largely untold facet of Texan history and memory.  


Freedom House
KB Brookins

KB Brookins’ Freedom House is an unapologetic forward-dreaming manifesto for a better, shared future. Based out of Austin, Texas, Brookins writes about growing up queer, Black, and trans in Texas — a state that has long housed anti-trans, anti-queer, and anti-Black legislature and ideologies. Despite this opposition, Texans like Brookins have long since been engaged in a fight for a future beyond these boundaries. Organized as a tour through the “freedom house” Brookins imagines, their poems take up issues of race, transness, gender, family, gentrification, climate change, Afrofuturism, sexual violence, body politics, and home. 

Jacinto Jesús Cardona

From Plancha Press, an imprint of Infrarealista, Amapolasong houses bilingual poetry that speaks to the heart and soul of much of South Texas. Cardona captures the feeling of living in this diverse part of the country by lyrically mixing Spanish and English in ways that make them feel as if they were one language.


Let Me Count the Ways
Tomás Q. Morín

Morín’s Let Me Count the Ways is a memoiristic exploration of obsessive-compulsive disorder, a condition that was exacerbated in childhood. Morín challenges ideas about fatherhood, family, mental health, and drug abuse in this unflinching but compassionate memoir about growing up in South Texas.

The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas
Monica Muñoz Martinez

Through oral history and archival research, The Injustice Never Leaves You tells readers about an overlooked period of Texas history where ethnic Mexicans throughout the Texas-Mexico borderlands experienced state-sponsored racial terror. Martinez turns to those who experienced such violence to show how this “past history” of violence is anything but passed.