Borderlands is not an easy read.  But reading it is more than worth the effort.

The first challenge is the unsual form of the book.  It's an example of its subject, showing what it would be like to think and write in the “third space” between opposites.   Anzaldúa cuts across all fields of study and all familiar literary forms to create something that is like a dream deeply enriched with information and insight.  She forces the reader to explore unknown territory by mixing different languages without translation (more about the "language landscape" in the Settings section), so the reader must depend on context and imagination to navigate the book. 

The book is also hard to read because many of its topics are painful to think about.  Borderlands explores dark aspects of history and horrific examples of cruelty.  It also highlights social issues that are as problematic today as they were in the 1980s.  But taken all together, the book is inspiring and exciting, because it offers such a different way of understanding experience.  Anzaldúa argues convincingly that a more creative, more inclusive kind of consciousness is emerging--and that it can change our world for the better.

Borderlands/La Frontera was immediately recognized as a groundbreaking work—in fact, it was named by Library Journal as one of the 38 best books of 1987.  It is widely used as a text in courses ranging from creative writing to sociology, and has been credited with making a huge contribution to the development of an academic discipline called “cross-cultural studies.”  In recent years, the spiritual and philosophical dimensions of the work have been more widely recognized. Borderlands was selected by Utne Reader as part of its “Alternative Canon” in 1998, and chosen as one of Hungry Mind Review's "Best 100 Books of the 20th Century."

 

Other Reviews

Publishers Weekly: With exceptional insight, she creates a mosaic of the marginal person: a person, like herself, who exists in a state of transition, of ambivalence, of conflict; someone who is infused with many cultures yet cannot claim a single one wholly for herself. Her journal is written in earth tones, like an Aztec design, tones that are both engaging and striking.

Library Journal: Writing in a lyrical mixture of Spanish and English that is her unique heritage, she meditates on the condition of Chicanos in Anglo culture, women in Hispanic culture, and lesbians in the straight world.