Tim Hernandez featured at Chico’s Book in Common for ‘All They Will Call You’


“I didn’t want to know facts,” Hernandez said, “I wanted to hear stories.” Hernandez took the audience along on his journey of what went into writing his book. He described how he was able to get in contact with some of the families in Mexico of the immigrants who died in the plane crash. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Chico’s Book in Common hosted Tim Hernandez in Laxson Auditorium on March 13 to talk about his book “All They Will Call You” and related experiences. Book in Common is hosted jointly by both Chico State and Butte College.

“All They Will Call You,” is a narrative of “the worst airplane disaster in California’s history,” which took place in 1948. The crash killed 32 people in Los Gatos Canyon including 28 Mexican citizens who were being deported. The book is Hernandez’s sixth, all of his publications are centralized around California and its prominent cultures.

“I didn’t study investigative journalism,” Hernandez said, “I studied poetry.”

Hernandez’s poetry is a major factor in all of his books and contributes some of the imagery to his storytelling capabilities. While writing this kind of story was newer to him, he felt drawn to it in a way that compelled him to write “All They Will Call You.”

“The subject chooses you, you just have to listen,” Hernandez said. “I didn’t (just) want to know the facts, I wanted to hear the stories… (the book) is a ticket to conversations in the community at the local level.”

Hernandez talked about how he collected research for his book. He described the stories of how he went to Mexico to search for the surviving family members of the migrant workers who had died in the plane crash. Hernandez took the audience on his investigative journey with elaborate hand motions and a personal, engaging intonation in his voice which passionately shared all he had seen and heard.

Lisa Langley and Dave Elke from singer-songwriter indie folk duo, Sunday Iris, performed the song “Deportee” by Woody Gutherie. Within the song, Hernandez said the names of all of the passengers that died in the plane crash, after each name the audience would say “presente.”

The Book in Common will continue in Chico, however, the next event has yet to be determined. More information can be found at csuchico.edu/bic/.

Olyvia Simpson and Mitchell Kret can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.