Chicano author, Rudolfo Anaya died this week at the age of 82. His most famous writing 1972 novel, Bless Mi Ultima will forever be this writerĺs favorite reading.
Anaya was born in New Mexico in 1937 to Martin and Rafaelita Anaya. He later attended and graduated from Albuquerque High School and graduated from the University of New Mexico with a Bachelorĺs and Masterĺs degree. His first literary piece, Bless Mi Ultima is about a family and a community whose life consisted of hard physical work, family, culture, religion and a combination of reality, magical spells and sometimes demonic possession, all centered around the wise curandera (healer) Ultima. This award-winning book was the flame that ignited Anayaĺs future writings but they never quite surpassed the popularity of Bless Mi Ultima. This script was later made into a movie released in 2012.
From a personal level and as a fellow writer/journalist, Bless Mi Ultima was the foundation of what my culture, family and upbringing meant to me. The content of this literary masterpiece depicts the background, upbringing, legends and wives tales of so many Chicanos, especially those born and raised in northern New Mexico and the San Luis Valley.
He reached literary fame with his writing debut of Bless Mi Ultimate, but went on to write many other brilliant works, such as Tortuga, Albuquerque, Heart of Aztlan, The Old Manĺs Love Story, La Llorona: the Crying Woman and more.
Anaya taught creative writing at the University of New Mexico well into his retirement. Anaya was a beloved figure locally and nationally. He inspired and brought identity and meaning to a culture so often forgotten and surpassed. His hometown honored Anaya by renaming a local library as the Rudolfo Anaya North Valley Library. On the national level he also received a top nod as the recipient of the National Humanities Medal given by former President Barack Obama.
Anaya touched the hearts of many through his writings, giving heartfelt identity to oneĺs upbringing, language and overall culture. Whether you related to the cooking of tortillas over a wooden stove, the sound of a coyote wailing in the distance, the sound of a Spanish cuss word among youth when adults were not listening, listening for the possible wails of La Llorona, or receiving Holy Communion for the first time, he delivered on so memories we cannot deny.