Friday, August 14, 2009
Foreword by Robert Con Davis-Undiano
University of Oklahoma Press
The publisher's announcement:
“The storyteller’s gift is my inheritance,” writes Rudolfo Anaya in his essay Shaman of Words. Although he is best known for Bless Me, Ultima and other novels, his writing also takes the form of nonfiction, and in these 52 essays he draws on both his heritage as a Mexican American and his gift for storytelling. Besides tackling issues such as censorship, racism, education, and sexual politics, Anaya explores the tragedies and triumphs of his own life.
Collected here are Anaya’s published essays. Despite his wide acclaim as the founder of Chicano literature, no previous volume has attempted to gather Anaya’s nonfiction into one edition. A companion to The Man Who Could Fly and Other Stories, the collection of Anaya’s short stories, The Essays is an essential anthology for followers of Anaya and those interested in Chicano literature.
Pieces such as Requiem for a Lowrider, La Llorona, El Kookoóee, and Sexuality, and An American Chicano in King Arthur’s Court take the reader from the llano of eastern New Mexico, where Anaya grew up, to the barrios of Albuquerque, and from the devastating diving accident that nearly ended his life at sixteen to the career he has made as an author and teacher. The point is not autobiography, although a life story is told, nor is it advocacy, although Anaya argues persuasively for cultural change. Instead, the author provides shrewd commentary on modern America in all its complexity. All the while, he employs the elegant, poetic voice and the interweaving of myth and folklore that inspire his fiction. “Stories reveal our human nature and thus become powerful tools for insight and revelation,” writes Anaya. This collection of prose offers abundant new insight and revelation.
Rudolfo Anaya is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of New Mexico. He has received numerous literary awards, including the Premio Quinto Sol and a National Medal of Arts. Anaya and his wife reside in Albuquerque. Robert Con Davis-Undiano, Dean of the Honors College at the University of Oklahoma and Executive Director of World Literature Today, is Neustadt Professor of Comparative Literature.
Anaya has been heavily involved in the Big Read project of the National Endowment for the Arts, including an immensely popular workshop presentation of his play based on Bless Me, Ultima produced by El Centro Su Teatro in Denver. The NEA has posted on its website two versions of A Conversation with Rudolfo Anaya, a film by Lawrence Bridges. You can watch the videos at this link.
The conversation is excellent; I recommend spending the time to watch the video, especially if you are a writer, to gain insight into the process Anaya has used to produce his timeless art and to understand how his intimate relationship with the natural world and his cultural history have infused his writing with the voice and heart of his beloved llano.
Here is the short version of the film:
That's it for this week.