Rigoberto González, author of So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water until It Breaks (National Poetry Series), Other Fugitives and Other Strangers (Poetry Center Book Award), and Black Blossoms, has also written two bilingual children's books, Soledad Sigh-Sighs / Soledad Suspiros and Antonio's Card / La tarjeta de Antonio (Lambda Literary Award finalist); a novel, Crossing Vines (ForeWord Magazine Fiction Book of the Year); a story collection, Men Without Bliss; and a memoir, Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa (American Books Award, Before Columbus Foundation). The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships and several international artist residencies, he is a contributing editor for Poets and Writers Magazine, writes a book review column for the Texas El Paso Times, and is on the Board of Directors of the National Book Critics Circle and the Advisory Circle of Con Tinta, a collective of Chicano/Latino activist writers. He is Associate Professor of English at Rutgers University at Newark.
On Sunday, Ramón Rentería, editor of the El Paso Times books page, offered “a note of honor of Rigoberto González’s milestone review” in that edition of the newspaper, specifically the 200th book review written by Rigoberto (a review of Carolina De Robertis' new novel, Perla (Knopf).) Ramón says, in part:
The Times has earned a national reputation for showcasing Hispanic writers as a result of González's generous contributions. Do the math. Two hundred reviews is a lot of words.
Dr. Hector P. Garcia, the legendary civil-rights leader from South Texas, once implored a banquet room filled with perhaps 500 Hispanic journalists from across the United States to continue to tell the stories of "our gente." "Because if you don't, no one else will," Garcia said.
I am reminded of that quote every time I edit another González review.
Unless you're Sandra Cisneros or someone in her league, few book critics in the United States bother to review literature published by Chicanos or Latinos. Wire news services rarely review Hispanic writers.
González plans to "retire" his monthly book review column sometime later this year. He's still working on a few other reviews before he says adios.
Rigoberto González will have a forum at the Times (as long as I'm still around) if he ever gets the itch to file an occasional review.
So many raza writers and their work might otherwise go unnoticed without writers like González who tell and spread the stories of la gente.
Well, I couldn’t put it better and I suggest that you read the entire piece. But I will add a personal note: without Rigoberto’s support of my own writing through his El Paso Times reviews (and in other ways), he has not only helped make my books more visible to the reading public, but also energized me to continue writing and to begin, in earnest, writing book reviews for the Times and other publications. It is our duty as Latino/a and Chicano/a writers to make up where most “mainstream” publications fail miserably: reviewing and discussing books of merit written by our brothers and sisters. Mil gracias, Rigoberto, for doing that and so much more.