The Five Acts of Diego LeonAcclaimed author Alex Espinoza, whose writing Lisa See has called “fresh, magical, beautiful, and evocative,” returns with a captivating, unforgettable novel set in Hollywood’s Golden Age, as a gifted and determined young man leaves Mexico—and everything he’s ever known—to follow his dreams.Growing up in a rural village at the height of the Mexican Revolution, Diego León has many first loves: singing, dancing, and hearing the stories of his ancestors, the P’urhépecha. But when tragedy strikes, young Diego is sent to the city to live with his aristocratic grandparents, who insist he forget his roots and groom him to take over the family business. Under pressure to enter a profession—and a life—for which he cares nothing, and haunted by the violence once again erupting all around him, Diego flees his war-torn country to forge his own destiny.Diego arrives in Hollywood in 1927, when silent films are giving way to talkies, Prohibition is in full swing, and “Latin lover” types are sought out even as they are looked down upon. Working his way up in the movie business with talent and ingenuity, Diego soon figures out that getting one’s face on the silver screen has as much to do with what goes on behind the camera as what goes on in front of it. But the closer Diego comes to stardom, the more he finds that the past is not so easily escaped, as he is drawn again and again to the painful legacy of history and the wounds of his homeland.A sweeping, sensual novel of love, ambition, and identity, The Five Acts of Diego León bears all the marks of a classic Hollywood story: romance, betrayal, glamour, and an underdog hero to root for till the end.

Advance Praise

“In its colorful narrative and historic sweep, The Five Acts of Diego León has both a story line and characters that a wide readership will surely enjoy.”
— Oscar Hijuelos, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love

“Not only an elegant, startling vision of a Mexican in America, The Five Acts of Diego León proclaims the ascendance of a unique new talent, Alex Espinoza—a Chicano in America certain to surpass the fame of his novel’s silent Hollywood hero. Espinoza takes our literature from a mute, black-and-white era to a national stage with full-spectrum color, in high-tech surround sound.”
— Dagoberto Gilb, author of Before the Beginning, After the End, Woodcuts of Women, and The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuña

“Alex Espinoza writes in the grand style.  This book sweeps us from Revolutionary Mexico to the glittering heart of Hollywood in its heyday.  It is fresh, surprising, and delightful.  There is nowhere this gifted writer can’t go. We are lucky to go along with him.”
— Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Hummingbird’s Daughter, Queen of the Americas, and Into the Beautiful North

“A story that begins in revolutionary Mexico and travels to Hollywood during the film industry’s transition from silent films to talkies, The Five Acts of Diego León breaks greater silences—taboos of race and sexuality, of reinvention and assimilation—in a fantasy called Hollywoodland.”
— Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street, Caramelo, and Have You Seen Marie?

“Even as we mourn the loss of Diego’s innocence, Alex Espinoza’s vivid storytelling leads us through a hall of mirrors that’s as fragmented and multifaceted as identity itself.”
Los Angeles Magazine, March 2013

Now available from
Random House

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