Anaya, Rudolfo A(lfonso) 1937-

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ANAYA, Rudolfo A(lfonso) 1937-

PERSONAL: Born October 30, 1937, in Pastura, New Mexico; son of Martin (a laborer) and Rafaelita (Mares) Anaya; married Patricia Lawless (a counselor), July 21, 1966. Ethnicity: "Mexican American/Chicano." Education: Attended Browning Business School, 1956-58; University of New Mexico, B.A. (Education), 1963, M.A. (English), 1969, M.A. (guidance and counseling), 1972. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, travel, apple orchards.

ADDRESSES: Home—5324 Canada Vista N.W., Albuquerque, NM, 87120. Office—Department of English, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131.

CAREER: Public school teacher in Albuquerque, NM, 1963-70; University of Albuquerque, Albuquerque, NM, director of counseling, 1971-73, associate professor, 1974-88, professor of English, 1988-93 (retired), professor emeritus, 1993—. Teacher, New Mexico Writers Workshop, summers, 1977-79. Lecturer, Universidad Anahuac, Mexico City, Mexico, summer, 1974; lecturer at other universities, including University of Haifa, Israel, Yale University, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of CaliforniaLos Angeles, University of Indiana, and University of Texas at Houston. Quebec Writers Exchange, Trois Rivières, 1982; Brazil International Seminar, 1984. Board member, El Norte Publications/Academia; consultant. Founder and first President, Rio Grande Writers Association. Professor emeritus, University of New Mexico, 1993—.

MEMBER: Modern Language Association of America, American Association of University Professors, National Council of Teachers of English, Trinity Forum, Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines (vice president, 1974-80), Rio Grande Writers Association (founder and first president), La Academia Society, La Compania de Teatro de Albuquerque, Multi-Ethnic Literary Association (New York, NY), Before Columbus Foundation (Berkeley, CA.), Santa Fe Writers Coop, Sigma Delta Pi (honorary member).

AWARDS, HONORS: Premio Quinto Sol literary award, 1971, for Bless Me, Ultima; University of New Mexico Mesa Chicana literary award, 1977; City of Los Angeles award, 1977; New Mexico Governor's Public Service Award, 1978 and 1980; National Chicano Council on Higher Education fellowship, 1978-79; National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, 1979, 1980; Before Columbus American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation, 1980, for Tortuga; New Mexico Governor's Award for Excellence and Achievement in Literature, 1980; literature award, Delta Kappa Gamma (New Mexico chapter), 1981; honorary doctorates from universities including University of New Mexico, 1981, and 1996, Marycrest College, 1984, College of Santa Fe, 1991, University of New England, 1992, California Lutheran University, 1994, and University of New Hampshire, 1997; Corporation for Public Broadcasting script development award, 1982, for "Rosa Linda"; Award for Achievement in Chicano Literature, Hispanic Caucus of Teachers of English, 1983; Kellogg Foundation fellowship, 1983-85; ; Mexican Medal of Friendship, Mexican Consulate of Albuquerque, NM, 1986; PEN Center West Award for Albuquerque, 1992; Erna S. Fergusson award for exceptional accomplishment, University of New Mexico Alumni Association, 1994; Art Achievement award, Hispanic Heritage Celebration, 1995; El Fuego Nuevo Award, 1995; Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children's Book Award, 1995, for The Farlitos of Christmas and 2000, for My Land Sings; Distinguished Achievement Award, Western Literature Association, and Premio Fronterizo, Border Book Festival, both 1997; Arizona Adult Author Award, Arizona Library Association, and De Coleres Hispanic Literature Award, both 2000; National Medal of Arts in literature, Wallace Stegner Award, Center for the American West, National Hispanic Cultural Center Literary Award, and Bravos Award, Albuquerque Arts Alliance, all 2001; National Association of Chicano scholar, and Champion of Change Award, both 2002.


Bless Me, Ultima (novel; also see below), Tonatiuh International, 1972.

Heart of Aztlan (novel), Editorial Justa (Berkeley, CA), 1976.

Bilingualism: Promise for Tomorrow (screenplay), Bilingual Educational Services, 1976.

(Editor, with Jim Fisher, and contributor) Voices from the Rio Grande, Rio Grande Writers Association Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1976.

(Contributor) Charlotte I. Lee and Frank Galati, editors, Oral Interpretations, 5th edition, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1977.

(Contributor) New Voices 4 in Literature, Language and Composition, Ginn (Oxford, England), 1978.

(Author of introduction) Sabine Ulibarri, Mi abuela fumaba puros, Tonatiuh International, 1978.

(Contributor) Anuario de letras chicanas, Editorial Justa (Berkeley. CA), 1979.

(Contributor) Grito del sol, Quinto Sol Publications, 1979.

Tortuga (novel), Editorial Justa (Berkely, CA), 1979.

The Season of La Llorona (one-act play), first produced in Albuquerque, NM, at El Teatro de la Compania de Albuquerque, October 14, 1979.

(Translator) Cuentos: Tales from the Hispanic Southwest, Based on Stories Originally Collected by Juan B. Rael, edited by Jose Griego y Maestas, Museum of New Mexico Press (Santa Fe, NM), 1980.

(Editor, with Antonio Marquez) Cuentos Chicanos: A Short Story Anthology, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1980.

(Editor, with Simon J. Ortiz) A Ceremony of Brotherhood, 1680-1980, Academia Press, 1981.

The Silence of the Llano (short stories), Tonatiuh/Quinto Sol International, 1982.

The Legend of La Llorona (novel), Tonatiuh/Quinto Sol International, 1984.

The Adventures of Juan Chicaspatas (epic poem), Arte Publico, 1985.

A Chicano in China (nonfiction, travel), University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1986.

The Farolitos of Christmas: A New Mexican Christmas Story (juvenile), New Mexico Magazine, 1987.

Lord of the Dawn: The Legend of Quetzalcóatl, University of New Mexico Press ((Albuquerque, NM), 1987.

(Editor) Voces: An Anthology of Nuevo Mexicano Writers, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1987.

Who Killed Don Jose (play), first produced in Albuquerque, NM, at La Compania Menval High School Theatre, July, 1987.

The Farolitos of Christmas (play), first produced in Albuquerque, NM, at La Compania Menval High School Theatre, December, 1987.

(Contributor) Flow of the River, or Corre el Rio, Hispanic Culture Foundation, 1988.

Selected from "Bless Me, Ultima," Literary Volumes of New York City, 1989.

(Editor, with Francisco Lomeli) Aztlan: Essays on the Chicano Homeland, El Norte, 1989.

(Editor) Tierra: Contemporary Fiction of New Mexico (short story collection), Cinco Puntos, 1989.

Alburquerque (novel), University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 1992.

Los Matachines (play), produced at La Casa Teatro, Albuquerque, December 10, 1992.

(Author of introduction) Howard Bryan, Incredible Elfego Baca, Clear Light (Santa Fe, NM), 1993.

(Author of introduction) Growing Up Chicana/o, (anthology), Morrow (New York, NY), 1993.

(Contributor) Man on Fire: Luis Jimenez = El Hombre en Llamas, translated by Margarita B. Montalvo, Albuquerque Museum, 1994.

The Anaya Reader, Warner Books, 1995.

(Author of foreword) Writing the Southwest, edited by David K. Dunaway, NAL/Dutton, 1995.

Zia Summer (novel), Warner Books, 1995.

(Editor) Blue Mesa Review, Volume 8: Approaching the Millenium, Blue Mesa Review/Creative Writing Center, University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM), 1996.

(Author of foreword) Dictionary of Hispanic Biography, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1996.

(Author of introduction) David L. Witt, Spirit Ascendant: The Art and Life of Patrocino Barela, Red Crane Books (Santa Fe, NM), 1996.

Jalamanta: A Message from the Desert (novel), Warner Books, 1996.

(With others) Muy Macho: Latin Men Confront Their Manhood, edited by Ray Gonzales, Anchor (New York, NY), 1996.

Rio Grande Fall (novel), Warner Books, 1996.

Abelardo Baeza, Keep Blessing Us, Ultima: A Teaching Guide for "Bless Me, Ultima" by Rudolfo Anaya, Easkin Press (Austin, TX), 1997.

Billy the Kid (play), produced at La Casa Teatro, July 11, 1997.

Angie (play), produced at La Casa Teatro, July 10, 1998.

Conversations with Rudolfo Anaya, edited by Bruce Dick and Silvio Sirias, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 1998.

(With others) The Floating Borderlands: Twenty-five Years of U.S. Hispanic Literature, edited by Lauro Flores, University of Washington Press (Seattle, WA), 1999.

(With others) Saints and Sinners: The American Catholic Experience through Stories, Memoirs, Essays, and Commentary, edited by Greg Tobin, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1999.

Shaman Winter, Warner Books, 1999.

An Elegy on the Death of Cesar Chavez, illustrations by Gaspar Enriquez, Cinco Puntos Press, 2000.


The Farlitos of Christmas, illustrated by Edward Gonzalez, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1995.

Maya's Children, illustrated by Maria Baca, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1996.

Farolitos for Abuelo, illustrated by Edward Gonzales, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1998.

My Land Sings: Stories from the Rio Grande, illustrated by Amy Cordova, Morrow (New York, NY), 1999.

Roadrunner's Dance, illustrated by David Diaz, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2000.

Author of unproduced play "Rosa Linda," for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; author of unpublished and unproduced dramas for the Visions Project, KCET-TV (Los Angeles). Contributor of short stories, articles, essays, and reviews to periodicals in the United States and abroad, including La Luz, Bilingual Review-Revista Bilingue, New Mexico Magazine, La Confluencia, Contact II, Before Columbus Review, L'Umano Avventura, 2 Plus 2, and Literatura Uchioba; contributor to Albuquerque News. Editor, Blue Mesa Review; associate editor, American Book Review, 1980-85, and Escolios; regional editor, Viaztlan and International Chicano Journal of Arts and Letters; member of advisory board, Puerto Del Sol Literary Magazine. Anaya's manuscript collection is available at the Zimmerman Museum, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Jamez Spring (novel), The Santero's Miracle (children's book), and Serafina's Stories (young adult book), all expected 2004.

SIDELIGHTS: Best known for his first novel, Bless Me, Ultima, Rudolfo A. Anaya's writing stems from his New Mexican background and his fascination with the oral tradition of Chicano stories in Spanish cuentos. He grew up listening to cuentistas, oral storytellers, and wanted to bring their magic into his writing. The mystical nature of these folk tales, together with events from his own life, have had a significant influence on his novels, which portray the experiences of Chicanos in the American Southwest. But the novelist's books are also about faith and the loss of faith. As Anaya explained in Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series, his education at the University of New Mexico intensified his questions about his religious beliefs, and this, in turn, led him to write poetry and prose in order to "fill the void." "I lost faith in my God," Anaya wrote, "and if there was no God there was no meaning, no secure road to salvation. . . . The depth of loss one feels is linked to one's salvation. That may be why I write. It is easier to ascribe those times and their bittersweet emotions to my characters."

Bless Me, Ultima, "a unique American novel that deserves to be better known," in Revista Chicano-Riquena contributor Vernon Lattin's words, leans heavily on Anaya's background in folklore in its depiction of the war between the evil Tenorio Trementina and the benevolent curandera (healer) Ultima. Several critics, such as Latin American Literary Review's Daniel Testa, have praised Anaya's use of old Spanish-American, specifically Chicano, tales in his book. "What seems to be quite extraordinary," averred Testa, ". . . is the variety of materials in Anaya's work. He intersperses the legendary, folkloric, stylized, or allegorized material with the detailed descriptions that help to create a density of realistic portrayal."

The novel is also a bildungsroman about a young boy, named Antonio, who grows up, as Anaya did, in a small village in New Mexico around the time of World War II. Most of Antonio's maturation is linked with a struggle with his religious faith and his trouble in choosing between the nomadic way of life of his father's family, and the agricultural lifestyle of his mother's. Reviewers of Bless Me, Ultima have lauded Anaya for his depiction of these dilemmas in the life of a young Mexican-American. For example, in Chicano Perspectives in Literature: A Critical and Annotated Bibliography, authors Francisco A. Lomeli and Donaldo W. Urioste called this work "an unforgettable novel . . . already becoming a classic for its uniqueness in story, narrative technique and structure." And America contributor Scott Wood remarked: "Anaya offers a valuable gift to the American scene, a scene which often seems as spiritually barren as some parched plateau in New Mexico."

Anaya's next novel, Heart of Aztlan, influenced by Anaya's involvement in the Chicano movement of the 1960s, is a more political work about a family that moves from a rural community to the city; but as with its predecessor, Anaya mixes in some mystical elements along with the book's social concern for the Chicano worker in capitalist America. Reception of this second book was somewhat less enthusiastic than it was for Bless Me, Ultima. Marvin A. Lewis observed in Revista Chicano-Requena that "on the surface, the outcome [of Heart of Aztlan] is a shallow, romantic, adolescent novel which nearly overshadows the treatment of adult problems. The novel [has] redeeming qualities, however, in its treatment of the urban experience and the problems with racism inherent therein, as well as in its attempt to define the mythic dimension of the Chicano experience." Similarly, World Literature Today critic Charles R. Larson felt that Heart of Aztlan, along with Bless Me, Ultima, "provide[s] us with a vivid sense of Chicano Life since World War II."

Anaya himself says that he was working, in cathartic writings before Bless Me, Ultima, without models or mentors for delineating Chicano experiences: "I was still imitating a style and mode not indigenous to the people and setting I knew best. I was desperately seeking my natural voice, but the process by which I formed it was long and arduous." At university, he, along with other Mexican-American students, had been "unprepared by high school to compete. . . . The thought was still prevalent in the world of academia that we were better suited as janitors than scholars." He had to learn English which "was still a foreign language to us," and with the attitudes of teachers who believed learning meant changing to be like them. His life of writing has been a journey of discovery: how to present the reality of Chicano people in the United States from within that experience.

Tortuga, Anaya's third novel, continues in the mythical vein of the author's other works and has been called "Anaya's most accomplished novel" by Antonio Marquez in The Magic of Words. The novel concerns a young boy who must undergo therapy for his paralysis and wear a body cast, hence his nickname "Tortuga," which means turtle. "Tortuga," however, also "refers . . . to the 'magic mountain' (with a nod here to Thomas Mann) that towers over the hospital for paralytic children," according to Angelo Restivo in Fiction International. While staying at the Crippled Children and Orphans Hospital, Tortuga becomes more spiritually and psychologically mature, and the novel ends when he returns home after his year-long ordeal. As with the novelist's other books, Tortuga is a story about growing up; indeed, Bless Me, Ultima, Heart of Aztlan, and Tortuga form a loosely-tied trilogy that depicts the Chicano experience in the southwestern United States over a period of several decades. As the author once told CA, these novels "are a definite trilogy in my mind. They are not only about growing up in New Mexico, they are about life."

All of Anaya's novels, including the award-winning quartet Alburquerque (the original spelling of the city's name), Zia Summer, Rio Grande Fall, and Shaman Winter, attempt to find the answers to life's questions, doing so from the perspective of his own personal cultural background and thus offering an opportunity to Mexican-American students of all ages to educate themselves about their culture, heritage and history. "If we as Chicanos do have a distinctive perspective on life," he told John David Bruce-Novoa in Chicano Authors: Inquiry by Interview, "I believe that perspective will be defined when we challenge the very basic questions which mankind has always asked itself: What is my relationship to the universe, the cosmos? Who am I and why am I here? If there is a Godhead, what is its nature and function? What is the nature of mankind?" These questions echo the doubts, realizations, and experiences the author has had in his life, and that he links closely to mythology alive in the land and peoples of the Americas, especially in the Mexican/Spanish and Native American cultures which flow together in Anaya. He explained to Bruce-Novoa, "All literature, and certainly Chicano literature, reflects, in its more formal aspects, the mythos of the people, and the writings speak to the underlying philosophical assumptions which form the particular world view of culture. . . . Ina real sense, the mythologies of the Americas are the only mythologies of all of us, whether we are newly arrived or whether we have been here for centuries. The land and the people force this mythology on us. I gladly accept it; many or most of the American newcomers have resisted it."

As well as novels, Anaya has written plays and screenplays, two epic poems and other poems, short stories, essays, documentaries, and children's stories. His first epic poem, a mock-heroic piece written in the language of "vatos locos," or crazy barrio Chicanos who jest at almost everything, continues the search for self-definition. In 2000 Anaya published Elegy on the Death of Cesar Chavez, another epic poem which celebrates the life and struggles of the famed Chicano labor leader.

Anaya told CA: "With fear throbbing in my heart I said goodbye to my mother and father and went off to my first day at school. First grade in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. I didn't know a word of English. But, as time progressed, I learned to read. I wrote great book reviews and illustrated them. I read the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries. I read cowboy stories. I read comic books. I had a comic book collection three feet high. I loved stories. Stories are what the old people told. I was raised on the folk tales of the Hispanic New Mexicans.

"I really fell in love with reading when I was a student at the University of Mexico. I read everything in those days when a liberal education meant preparing the student in world literature—multicultural literature.

"I began to write poetry. The Beatnik era was full of poetry and rebellion, and some of that energy became mine. I began to write what I knew best, my childhood, my family, community, place. More like Thomas Wolfe than Hemingway.

"I discovered in the arduous, creative process that the story must be personal. My place. The history, language, and culture of my community.

" I wrote every night, descending into the world of my dreams, the mythos, the images of the unconscious, the world of symbols. My history was tied to the history of my community.

"In the 1970s, the Chicago Movement was born—we gave it birth. We began to write us. Identity. The movement spread across the country and continues to this day.

"I don't have a favorite novel. They are all children born of blood, pain, joy, and revelation—the dark world coming into light. Some are fuller of soul, some are weaker in style, but they are all children to be loved.

"We write for ourselves and for others. Messages. A sharing. We write to say we exist. The reader reads and also shouts I too exist! We are all together in the structure, which we call creativity. The structure is a house. We all live there. Some write, some do carpentry, plumbing or doctoring. We all live and share what we do. If it wasn't for those guys, I wouldn't have a house to live in. If it weren't for me, they wouldn't have a book of revelation to read. It all works out in the end.



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Dick, Bruce, and Silvio Sirias, Conversations with Rudolfo Anaya, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 1998.

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Anaya, Rudolfo A(lfonso) 1937-

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