Raquel Gutiérrez on “Brown Neon: Essays”

“Arts, writing, journalism—these things are born from our passions … this thing that is our weak spot.”

Writing Latinos, from Public Books, features interviews with Latino (a/x/e) authors discussing their books and how their writing contributes to the ever-changing conversation about the meanings of latinidad.

In this episode, Geraldo Cadava and Tasha Sandoval talk with Raquel Gutiérrez about their critically acclaimed book, Brown Neon: Essays, published by Coffee House Press. Brown Neon won the 2023 Publishing Triangle Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction, and was a finalist for the 2023 Lambda Literary Award in Lesbian Memoir/Biography and the 2023 Firecracker Award for Creative Nonfiction. It has received praise from the New Yorker, Vogue, Oprah Daily, SPIN, Ms. Magazine, and so many other publications. 

Gutiérrez, Cadava, and Sandoval discuss the legendary activist Jeanne Córdova, Leslie Marmon Silko, gentrification, belonging, performance, border walls, the Sonoran Desert, the drive on I-10 through Arizona and California, and Tucson. Really, it was a lot about Tucson, and you can thank Sandoval for editing that part down to a reasonable length. On the other hand, if you’re from the desert, or just a fan of the “Dirty T,” as Gutiérrez called it, then you’re welcome!

A critic, essayist, poet, performer, and educator, Gutiérrez was born and raised in Los Angeles, and is today based in Tucson. They teach in the low-residency creative writing MFA programs at Oregon State University–Cascades and the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA).





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View a transcript of the episode here.




Mentioned in this episode:

  • Guadalupe Castillo
  • Jeanne Córdova
  • Margo Cowan
  • Isabel Garcia
  • Leslie Marmon Silko



Writing Latinos is a production of Public Books. The show’s host is Geraldo Cadava, co-editor-in-chief of the magazine, and show’s producer is Tasha Sandoval. Our theme music is “City of Mirrors” by Dos Santos.



Featured image: Courtesy of Raquel Gutiérrez