Pedro’s Theory

Reimagining the Promised Land

There are many Pedros living in many Americas . . .

One Pedro goes to a school where they take away his language. Another disappears in the desert, leaving behind only a backpack. A cousin Pedro comes to visit, awakening feelings that others are afraid to make plain. A rumored Pedro goes missing so completely it’s as if he were never there.

In Pedro’s Theory Marcos Gonsalez explores the lives of these many Pedros, real and imagined. Several are the author himself, while others are strangers, lovers, archetypes, and the men he might have been in other circumstances. All are journeying to some sort of Promised Land, or hoping to discover an America of their own.

With sparkling prose and cutting insights, this brilliant literary debut closes the gap between who the world sees in us and who we see in ourselves. Deeply personal yet inspiringly political, it also brings to life those selves that never get the chance to be seen at all.


Read a sample of Pedro’s Theory here.

Download a Reading Group Guide here.

Marcos Gonsalez is a writer and doctoral candidate in English Language and Literature. His essays have appeared in Literary HubElectric LiteratureInside Higher EducationPloughshares, Catapult, The New Inquiry, and elsewhere. He teaches literature and writing courses at CUNY. He lives in New York City.

“A searching memoir . . . A subtle, expertly written repudiation of the American dream in favor of something more inclusive and more realistic.” Kirkus STARRED Review

Pedro’s Theory is a white-knuckled journey through the most vulnerable parts of Marcos Gonsalez’s life, love and family–an exploration of not only what it means to be brown, Indigenous, queer and mad, but what it means to be a human in a world that values not who you are, but what you can sacrifice with a smile. This book shows that strength and tenderness are not opposites, but two sides of the same coin–a coin that Gonsalez shows in all its many facets in this incredible book.” —Alicia Elliott, author of A Mind Spread Out on the Ground

“An impressive amalgam of autobiography, family portraiture, political diagnosis, cultural history, literary criticism, and novelistic aria, Pedro’s Theory bodies forth a new form of literature—a variety of personal writing that treats ”self” as a malleable substrate, capable of being reinvented, projected, performed, and multiplied.  Through mesmerizing tableaux, songful declarations, ekphrastic experiments, propulsive storytelling, and desire-laden speculations, Marcos Gonsalez reconstructs his world by composing a book lavish in its mastery of both fragmented and flowing modes of articulation.  Generosity, fearlessness, vulnerability, and lyricism make up the magic formula that is Pedro’s Theory, a stunning debut by a powerful writer.”  —Wayne Koestenbaum

“In Pedro’s Theory, Marcos Gonsalez writes toward the multiplicities of who he is, who he was, and who he could be—and simultaneously offers an insightful and brilliant dismantling of the traditional American Dream. This book is a beautiful fusion of lived experience and cultural criticism. Gonsalez belongs on the same shelf as Claudia Rankine and Maggie Nelson.” —Michele Filgate