Biography •  Chicano/Chicana and Literature

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The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child

Francisco Jiménez

After dark in a Mexican border town, a father holds open a hole in a wire fence as his wife and two small boys crawl through.

So begins life in the United States for many people every day. And so begins this collection of twelve autobiographical stories by Santa Clara University professor Francisco Jiménez, who at the age of four illegally crossed the border with his family in 1947.

"The Circuit," the story of young Panchito and his trumpet, is one of the most widely anthologized stories in Chicano literature. At long last, Jiménez offers more about the wise, sensitive little boy who has grown into a role model for subsequent generations of immigrants.

These independent but intertwined stories follow the family through their circuit, from picking cotton and strawberries to topping carrots--and back again--over a number of years. As it moves from one labor camp to the next, the little family of four grows into ten. Impermanence and poverty define their lives. But with faith, hope, and back-breaking work, the family endures.

"A jewel of a book"--Rolando Hinojosa-Smith

"These stories are so realistic they choke the heart."--Rudolfo Anaya


Francisco Jiménez is the Fay Boyle Professor of Modern Languages at Santa Clara University.


"Jiménez's exquisite autobiographical short story 'The Circuit' is widely anthologized. . . . Like Steinbeck's classic Grapes of Wrath, Jiménez's stories combine stark social realism with heartrending personal drama."



". . . (a) moving book . . . The Circuit beautifully captures the rhythms of everyday life and the dreams and aspirations of a migrant family. Jiménez writes credibly in the voice of his young protagonist. Pancho is a compelling and memorable character, at the emotional center of a book that will appeal to both adult and teenage readers."


Multicultural Review

"An assortment of stories that remain independent, yet they intertwine . . . (Jiménez) wrote the story in an honest and delightful voice. It's a wonderful representation of a culture that exists in the U.S. but is foreign to most Americans."



"There are moments of wonder . . . Francisco Jiménez is a master craftsman of words, with a simple yet crystalline style . . . The Circuit speaks intimately of migrant life in the western United States--a life that might be known by its politics or sociology but here is given a human face."


New Mexico Magazine

4.75 x 7 in. 152 pages