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California State University
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  The Tattooed Soldier
Héctor Tobar


Picture of Hector Tobar, the Author

Héctor Tobar



The Author

Héctor Tobar was born in Los Angeles, California,  in 1963, to parents who had recently moved to the United States from Guatemala. Tobar attended University of California at Santa Cruz. After college, he worked briefly for a local paper in San Francisco before moving on to the Los Angeles Times. Over the course of his career, he has won a Pulitzer Prize with fellow staff members for his coverage of the Los Angeles riots. Tobar took time off from the paper in the mid-1990s in order to study creative writing at the University of California at Irvine, where he earned an M.F.A.

Tobar's first novel, The Tattooed Soldier, was written during this period. In this book, Tobar mines his own family's background, with an extensive back story that takes place in Guatemala City. He recounts the experiences of a leftist student named Antonio, his revolutionary wife Elena, and a peasant named Guillermo, who becomes the leader of a death squad that eventually kills Elena and her child. At the start of the novel, Antonio has been reduced to a homeless pauper living on the streets of Los Angeles, seeking his revenge on Guillermo. This goal is achieved during the height of the Los Angeles riots.

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