top of page



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.

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 Woodcuts of Women



A story undertaken with gusto, imagined with daring.

—Washington Post



Excellent….[The Five Acts of Diego León] has many of the elements of the classic Hollywood novel, but works on a much larger canvas.

—Los Angeles Review of Books



Alex Espinoza's vivid storytelling leads us through a hall of mirrors that's as fragmented and multifaceted as identity itself.
—Los Angeles Magazine



With 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



Fresh, surprising, and delightful. There is nowhere this gifted writer can't go. 

—Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Hummingbird's Daughter


Espinoza’s deft and masterful storytelling leads readers along a path from Mexico before the Mexican Revolution to the Golden Age of Hollywood film culture where the protagonist Diego León finds his American dream isn’t at all what he expected. León must follow his heart, but is it worth going against all that he has built in his grandparents’ home? Is it worth forgetting his father’s indigenous culture? Will making it in Hollywood be all that he imagines?

—Norma Cantú, author of Canícula, Murchison Professor in the Humanities, Trinity University.

bottom of page