Born in El Campo, Texas, Emma Pérez has published essays in history and feminist theory as well as The Decolonial Imaginary: Writing Chicanas into History. Her novel, Gulf Dreams, was first published in 1996 and was considered to be one of the first Chicana lesbian novels in print. Pérez has earned her Ph.D. in History at the University of California, Los Angeles. In fall 2003, she joined the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Since 2017 she has been a Social Research Scientist at the University of Arizona. Her most recent novel, Forgetting the Alamo, Or, Blood Memory, (University of Texas Press, 2009) is a Chicana lesbian western that challenges white-male-centered westerns and and was awarded the Christopher Isherwood Fiction Writing Grant in December 2009.
To learn more about Emma Pérez, visit her website.
Gulf Dreams is the story of a Chicana who comes of age in a racist, rural Texas town. Through memory, the protagonist reexamines her unresolved obsessive love for a young woman, her best friend since childhood.
Gulf Dreams is Emma Pérez’s signature work. Not only does it tell the dirty story of family abuse and misogynistic violence that plagues the Chicano/a community—which itself forms the basis of Pérez’s famous theoretical constructs, "sitio y lengua" and "the decolonial imaginary"—but it is also a pithy rumination on the nature of romantic obsession, and the self-destructive behaviors and addictions that serve as internalized revenge against rape and conquest of the brown female body. This has the lyrical eroticism and colonial subtext of Marguerite Duras’ The Lover and the gritty cruelty of Amores Perros.
—Alicia Gaspar de Alba
Gulf Dreams is a powerful, gripping, and disturbing story of passion and betrayal, survival and vengeance, compulsion and resilience, told in arresting images and fragmented dreamlike narrative. Pérez’s lyrical voice and highly controlled style are unique and unforgettable.
—Teresa de Lauretis, author of The Practice of Love and Figures of Resistance
Tejana Emma Pérez is an important voice in Chicana literature. This amalgam of life history, creative non-fiction, psychoanalytic treatise and fictional and fictionalized memoirs is also a welcome addition to queer literature. Pérez truly creates her own sitio y lengua in a Chicana lesbian cultural terrain, where the boundaries between past and present and the world of dreams blur. In Gulf Dreams, a Chicana dyke becomes the active subject of history working through the haunting of desire, tracking the pleasure of pain, and ultimately relating that loss to betrayal. Trapped between visions, she recounts her search for meaning through the broken body, stating, "I am my only real witness."
—Gloria Anzaldúa, author of Borderlands/La Frontera
Pérez’s Chicana lesbian characters have forever changed the landscape of Chicana literature. The text is infused with desire, with obsession. You will be pulled in by the narrator who will seduce you with words. You’ll see glimpses of other stories here: The House on Mango Street or Real Women Have Curves, but through the eyes of a jota, which changes everything.
—Catrióna Rueda Esquibel, author of With Her Machete in Her Hand: Reading