Pa’l Otro Lado
and other tales of bad hombres & nasty women
by Juan Ochoa
ISBN: 978-1-956440-53-9 paperback $20.95
ISBN: 978-1-956440-54-6 ebook $9.99
October 17, 2023
Pa’l Otro Lado, a prequel to Mariguano, spans five generations of violence and tragedy in the Cortina family while narrating their forced migration to the United States from Northern Mexico. It is the tale of every working-class family who has come to realize that “you just can’t win.” Hunger and poverty drive the characters in this novel to abandon all hopes of attaining the American Dream and to resign themselves simply to survive. P’al Otro Lado is full of the baddest hombres and the nastiest women we all know, love, and call family.
Original cover art and design by Edgar Torres
Pa’l Otro Lado and other tales of bad hombres & nasty women early reviews:
Pa’l Otro Lado is an engaging story collection with an airy narrator that makes the story breeze along effortlessly with a lot of local flavor and mixing of Spanish with English, but it also harkens back to a more classical element of tragedy as well. It reads like the fall of a great house in ancient literature, except for the fact that this family is a Mexican family living on both sides of the border and never being given an opportunity to flourish, except while engaging into a life of crime.
—Mike Hilbig, author of Judgment Day & Other White Lies
Ochoa’s novel is a fast moving, exciting, whimsical, often crazy-sad and hilarious ride into the lives of extraordinary, and yet somehow ordinary people on both sides of the border. The landscape is vivid, and the language goes effortlessly and poetically back-and-forth between Mexican dialects and English. The depth of characterization allows us to love these people, sometimes pity them, but never do we find them boring. The prose is so smooth that it feels as if we’re not reading at all, but watching a movie in our head, one that engages us so deeply that we don’t want it to end.
—Daniel Chacón, author of Kafka in a Skirt and Hotel Juárez: Stories, Rooms, and Loops
Juan Ochoa has captured the soul of a family, as their dreams and hopes for a better life in the U.S. are trampled and ground to dust while they struggle to survive in this well-crafted generational tale that follows the migration of the Cortina family from Mexico to the United States. The Cortinas face a constant battle for survival in this world, colliding head-on with the gods of violence and poverty that attach themselves to the family members and follow them on their continuing journey far away from Northern Mexico. The Cortinas come to the painful realization that the best possible outcome in their lives could only be their endurance through struggles pushed to the extreme and the continuing impact of trauma. This family embodies all of our families who have faced isolation, confusion, and bitterness, and often, resignation as their hopes for a better future are destroyed.
—Francine Rodriguez, author of A Woman Like Me and A Woman’s Story
Juan Ochoa is the author of Mariguano, a novel set in the drug trafficking world of the Texas/Mexico border circa 1980s. His short stories and essays appear in numerous journals. He teaches writing at South Texas College in McAllen. Ochoa is a licensed Mexican lawyer with an MFA in creative writing. He is currently writing the final volume in the trilogy El Penal.