Friday, July 03, 2020

Rudolfo Anaya

His wife, in a rainbowed flowing gown, stepped out of golden sunlit clouds and reclined on the bed.
Come, she beckoned.  It’s time to rest.
Yes, he said, smiling, exhaling a breath of satisfaction, contentment at last.
You promised, he said.
I kept my promise, she replied.
The old man left his rocking chair and began to climb up the cloud to the top. He had climbed the cliffs of Jemez in his youth, and now he felt as agile and strong.  He went, eager to be with her, pulling himself up until he lay beside her.
I’m so glad to see you, he said.
It’s time, she answered, and fluffed his pillow as she was wont to do in a past life.
This is like heaven, he said.
Love is heaven, she whispered, and lay her arms across his body.

These words appear near the end of The Old Man’s Love Story, published in 2013.  According to the author, Rudolfo Anaya, the old man in this collection of stories struggles to “understand the finality of death, and thus his search becomes a spiritual quest.”

Rudy Anaya’s own spiritual quest resulted in beautiful novels and wondrous stories, and the birth of Chicano Literature. 

The “Father of Chicano Literature” died on June 28, 2020.  His legacy of sincere and realistic storytelling has been recognized around the world with awards, honors, and readers.  

His first novel, Bless Me, Ultima, appeared in 1972, and it has never gone out of print.  Considered by many to be a classic masterpiece of the coming-of-age novel, Bless Me, Ultima is not only a brilliant foundation of Chicano Literature.  Today, the novel is seen as an essential piece of the American Literature canon, and Anaya is acknowledged as an important, unique, and prolific American author. All this despite numerous and well-organized attempts to censor and blacklist the book by people who don’t understand, or can't accept, the Chicanismo, spiritualism, and naturalism in the story.

He published more than a dozen novels, numerous children’s books, plays, poetry, and nonfiction books and essays – including a travel book, A Chicano in China.  Among the list of his published works is a mystery series of five novels featuring a Chicano private investigator.  His children’s books involve young readers in stories of la Llorona and the Chupacabra.  His work was often deeply personal and intimate, as in The Old Man’s Love Story and Jalamanta:  A Message from the Desert.  At the same time, he used his New Mexican sense of humor to help the reader manage the intricacy and passion of stories with lessons in morality and humanity.   

At the core of his writing, regardless of genre, was Anaya’s commitment to honest human emotion, loyalty to his cultural heritage, and a passionate belief in the magic and power of the written word.

Jemez Springs, July 4, 1997

Like any good father, Anaya encouraged and supported his literary children.  Two of the ways that his encouragement and support manifested themselves are the Premio Aztlán and the Jemez writers’ retreat. 

He and his wife Patricia established the Premio Aztlán in 1993, and for several years it was the most prestigious award in the world for Chicana/o literature.  The prize included public readings and $1000. 

The writers’ retreat was a house in Jemez Springs, NM, where a writer could find solitude and time to write.  Surrounded by the beautiful Jemez Mountains, the retreat was quiet, inspirational, and peaceful.  Anaya’s only condition for using the house was that the author had to actively work on a piece of writing during his or her stay.
One of the joys and pleasures of my writing life was the friendship I developed with Rudolfo Anaya.  We met sporadically over the years, usually at writing conferences, often with other writers such as Lucha Corpi. Those were always joyful, satisfying times.  The memories I have of those days are golden with sunshine, and filled with the music of imagination, creativity, and possibility.  Although I hadn’t seen him for a few years, we kept in touch through email, and I always appreciated the notes he sent about a new book or project.  I don’t think he ever quit writing. I thank him for that.

 En paz descanse.  


From the earliest days of La Bloga, we have featured Rudolfo Anaya.  Our pages have been filled with Anaya reviews, interviews, photographs, essays, and news.  Use  "Rudolfo Anaya" in the search function at the top of the page to access this information.



Manuel Ramos writes crime fiction and is working on another Gus Corral novel.


msedano said...

the Hollyhocks were in full bloom at the end of June. She appeared one final time, vamonos he said.

Daniel Cano said...

Manuel, such a sensitive, imaginative send-off to kind soul. Thanks

Manuel Ramos said...

Thank you, Daniel. And now I wonder: Who are today's and tomorrow's Anayas? Perhaps there is no one, perhaps the times do not allow for such a person. Or is that only the thinking of a jaded cynical viejo?