Gary Soto was born on April 12, 1952, in Fresno, California. His parents were Mexican-American; his grandparents had immigrated from Mexico during the Depression and found jobs on Fresno farms.

When Gary was five, his father died in a factory accident. His mother was left to raise three children on her own. The family did not have much money, and Gary was raised with a tough work ethic. To help support the family he mowed lawns, picked grapes, washed cars, and painted numbers on curbs.

Gary grew up wanting to be a priest, a paleontologist, or a hobo. He certainly never planned to become a writer. The family was more or less illiterate, and Gary was never encouraged to read - there were too many other things to take care of.

Gary went to California State University at Fresno to study geology. One day he came across a book of poetry in the college library, read it, liked it, and began to write his own poems. He took a poetry class, and decided to become a writer. He was twenty. He earned a BA in English, a Master's in creative writing, and has been writing ever since.

After receiving his master's, Gary became writer-in-residence at San Diego State, and a lecturer in Chicano studies at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1977, he became an associate professor in both the Chicano studies and English departments at Berkeley, and he has been a senior lecturer there since 1992.

Since 1993, Gary has considered himself a full-time writer. He has written poetry and prose for children and adults, and most of it reflects his Mexican-American heritage. He writes in the mornings, in his garage.

Gary enjoys karate, basketball, and Aztec dancing. He serves as a volunteer English teacher at his church. He has a wife, Carolyn, a daughter, Mariko, and two cats, Corky and Sharkie. They all live in Berkeley.


Baseball in April and Other Stories

Big Bushy Mustache

Boys At Work

Buried Onions

Canto Familiar

The Cat's Meow

Chato and the Party Animals

Chato's Kitchen

Coming of Age in America: A Multicultural Anthology

Condor Dreams & Other Fictions

The Effects of Knut Hamsun on a Fresno Boy: Recollections and Short Essays

The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers Movement

A Fire in My Hands

Folk Wisdom of Mexico: Proverbios Y Dichos Mexicanos

Gary Soto: New and Selected Poems


Junior College: Poems

Living Up the Street: Narrative Recollections

Local News

My Little Car

A Natural Man

Neighborhood Odes


Nickel and Dime

Novio Boy

Off and Running

The Old Man and His Door

Pacific Crossing

Petty Crimes

Poetry Lover

The Pool Party

The Skirt

Snapshots from the Wedding

A Summer Life

Taking Sides

Too Many Tamales

Who Will Know Us?: New Poems

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