Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Mexico and New Mexico, José Skinner writes about hard times on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border. His short story collection Flight and Other Stories received much critical praise. His gritty and imaginative stories have appeared in BoulevardThird Coast,  Colorado Review,  Florida Review, Quarterly West, Bilingual Review, and many other literary journals, as well as in the anthologies Our Lost Border: Essays on Life Amid the Narco Violence, In the Shadow of the Strip: Las Vegas Stories and Las Vegas Noir. He reviews books for the Texas Observer. His new collection, The Tombstone Race, was published by University of New Mexico Press in 2016.

 

Jos

é Skinner approaches the Americas with an international focus.

In 1979, following the Sandinista revolution, he moved to Nicaragua to teach sustainable farming, which he'd studied at U.C. Davis, but soon found himself writing dispatches about the toll that US intervention was taking in the region; he returned to the United States periodically to organize against that intervention.  While in the U.S., he supported himself as a translator and interpreter in the criminal courts of New Mexico.  


Jos

é

's stories traffic in strange meetings and unusual conflicts.

 In "Solidarity," a Chicano scholar confronts a figure from his militant past. In “Plots,” a small-time schemer in a Chiapas village tries to simultaneously ingratiate himself with the Zapatistas, with the ruling Godoy family, and with European "revolution tourists." In "Tequila," a bizarre relationship develops between a rich Mexican "junior" and his chauffeur. And in "Dogs," a small-town sheriff's deputy must decide whether or not he has what it takes to bust a Salvadoran ex-military man under federal protection. 

Although Skinner's stories often involve gritty subjects, he treats his characters with quiet dignity and a sharp sense of humor.  In “Flight,” a woodcutter from the mountains of New Mexico is no match for the terrors of modern airport security.  In “Qu

é

 Será,” an American tourist risks her life in a rough Mexican town to save a stray dog. In "Weeds," a recovering addict toils in a community garden, trying to sweat his way to health.   

A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Skinner co-founded and directed the M.F.A. program at the University of Texas-Pan American in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. He now lives Austin, where he volunteers for the Proyecto Defensa Laboral and, of course, writes.