One Campus, One Book - The Tattooed Soldier by Hector Tobar



Los Angeles | urban experience | demographics

1992 LA riots | race relations | gangs

 Central American Diaspora | immigration | migration

U.S. & Latin America | School of the Americas

State-sponsored terrorism

Guatemala | Maya

Latin American politics | social movements

Violence and its effects


Forgiveness | reconciliation | peace | revenge

   Body art 





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. 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. With 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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