American writer of Latin origin, wrote plays and short stories, poet and novelist, born on August 15, 1948 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Epifanio, his father, was absent most of his childhood, so the small Denise grew strongly influenced by the presence of his mother, Delfina, which was master, and his two sisters. It also grew in an environment of total bilingualism, Las Cruces is located about seventy kilometres from the border with Mexico and is the only region in the United States in which a true mix of cultures (American and Mexican) occurs. While the women of the Chávez family influenced her intellectual development, Denise also received the influence of several Mexican women that worked in the House and that not only were engaged to clean or Cook, but also helped in the task of educating the three daughters. This combination of circumstances, the bilingualism of this city from New Mexico in the South and the presence of Mexican women in the home of the Chávez, is reflected in the subsequent literary work of the writer. On the other hand, the use of oral tradition was very important in childhood of Chávez, who grew up surrounded by people who told stories and which greatly influenced her.
He began attending the Institute Madonna of Mesilla, New Mexico; There he enrolled in a course of theatre, through which he discovered his interest in a new medium of personal expression: drama. Chávez cultivated this interest in the theatre and was awarded for a school representations made at the University of the State of New Mexico, where he studied with Mark Medoff, author of the play Children of a Lesser God. Finally, he specialized in dramatic arts and received the degree of Bachelor in 1974, then continued his studies at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, where was also awarded the title of master's degree in dramatic art in 1974. Completely dedicated to the theatre, Chávez began to work at the Dallas Theater Center, while he continued his studies in theatre and literature, ended in 1984, when he received his title of "Creative writing" by the University New Mexico.
He began his career as a writer in the early years of the Decade of the seventies, when he began writing his first vocation-driven plays. These early dramatic works focused mainly on the social and economic problems of the Chicano culture, as well as the humor and the manner of speaking of this culture. Although the themes of these early works are kept in their most recent theatrical productions, Chávez has tried to always reflect the social reality of a more universalized way, through a growing experimentation in style and dramatic staging.
However, the literary work of Chávez is not limited to the theatre; in fact, it is probably most known for his work as a prose writer. In 1986 he published a collection of short stories under the title of The Last of the Menu Girls (the last of the menu girls). This volume can be considered a novel, since it brings together seven short stories related, through which are presented to the reader the experiences of a single protagonist. Chávez has reflected his own experiences in this novel through its protagonist, Rocio, who lives apart from her father and works in a hospital, occupation which she herself played for some time. He has also published the novel Face of an Angel, whose protagonist, Soveida Dosamantes, called working as a professional waitress and spends his free time to collect in a book their experiences in the profession. Dosamantes intends to write a book that serves as a guide to other women of the Guild to be successful in their profession. As key to achieve this success proposes suitably dressed and be measured, as well as competent. With a refined humorous Dosamantes book penetrates the origins of this profession performed by women in the Chicano society.
As The Last of the Menu Girls as a Face of an Angel essentially treated the issue of the status of service personnel, although Chávez also touches other topics such as the importance of personal relationships, religion or motherhood, omnipresent in the context of these two works.
In recent years, Chávez has proposed to analyze through his literary professional role and status that women play within the social and economic problems of Chicano culture. Also, their works show their concern by the Chicano heritage and his deep appreciation of bilingualism in this culture, a sentiment shared by other Chicano writers who are fighting on the same line, among them Roberto Anaya (that encouraged Chávez to send The Last of the Menu Girls to his editors) and Sandra Cisneros, who encouraged her in her work with the Face of an Angel. The work of Chávez in favor of Chicano culture has been recognized widely, as she has been awarded many prizes, among which the port of the Sun Fiction Award, awarded to The Last of the Menu Girls, and the American Book Award, delivered by Face of an Angel.