Monday, December 20, 2010

"Live from Fresno y Los" wins American Book Award

As I noted in a review published last year in the El Paso Times, Stephen D. Gutierrez's new book of short fiction, Live from Fresno y Los (Bear Star Press), bears witness to the excitement and pain, exhilaration and disappointments, of growing up Chicano in Fresno and Los Angeles during the 1970s. I was not the only one to appreciate this powerful book of stories: unbeknownst to Gutierrez, Rudolfo Anaya nominated it for an American Book Award and, guess what? He won. Anaya wrote of Live from Fresno y Los:

"This is one of the most compelling collections of short stories I've read in a long time. A refreshing, cinematic prose style. The action flashes back and forth as time collapses into memories of past, present and future. Gutierrez has an excellent eye for detail, and a narrative voice to match. The characters are (almost) middle-class Chicanos who realize they aren't 'the real stuff.' They're not the East LA cholos, and their families do not want their sons to be cholos. But they need an identity, and so they look longingly toward the barrios. Identity is at the core of these stories. The pachucos of the 1940s chose their identity and they stood against the oppression of a prejudiced mainstream culture. Now Gutierrez asks: How can Chicanos today carry on that struggle? If the Chicano Movement is waning, what do young Chicanos identify with? Are there lessons in history? Gutierrez raises important questions in his fiction. He reminds us that prejudices still exist, but a positive Chicano identity is evolving to serve the people. Writers like Gutierrez make the old veteranos proud. These vatos know their roots, and they write the truth."

The award ceremony took place on September 19 at the Koret Auditorium in the San Francisco Public Library.

For a complete list of winners of the 2010 American Book Award, visit here.

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