Barrio Bushido author Benjamin Bac Sierra reveals his code
He pulls the Monte Carlo over to speak with an older man on the corner across the street from his brother's old house. "Yo escribí un libro, señor, en honor de mi hermano," he calls out the window, inviting the man to his upcoming book release party at Mission Cultural Center. Many of his friends from the old neighborhood (he now lives in Richmond, where he is raising two of his four children, Margarita, nine, and Benny, six) are Barrio Bushido's biggest supporters. I ask him if it makes him sad, how much the neighborhood has changed since when he grew up. "This is the world. Economics knows no friends."
I recognize the last line from Barrio Bushido. Its characters speak with an urgent poetry, moving through scenes influenced by Dostoyevsky and Miguel Ángel Asturias, with Gabriel Garcia Márquez-like magical realism. Bac Sierra wants the book to be taught in schools and has set a goal of having it adopted into 50 class sections by next semester.
Other things he hopes for: first, that readers be taken on a journey. "It doesn't have to be stuffy. I want them to be amazed with the language." Second, he wants the book to show that life is full of choices. "Start living here in this world," as he puts it.
His last hope is for a "homeboy resurgence" in the Mission, the neighborhood that was once the center of Latino culture in Northern California. Thursday's party at the Mission Cultural Center is a start. Bac Sierra is planning a low-rider show, Aztec dancers, a reading, and live music for the event — the positive parts of homeboy culture, like Bac Sierra himself. "I'm fucking straight homeboy," he says. "I am very efficient. I am always inventing things."
BARRIO BUSHIDO BOOK PARTY
Thurs/17 7 p.m., free
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts
2868 Mission, SF