New Mexico has been home to many talented people. This week, we would like to further explore notable New Mexican Rudolfo Anaya.
Rudolfo Anaya: The Early Years
Rudolfo Anaya grew up in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. His father was a vaquero from a family of cattle workers and sheepherders and his mother’s family was composed of farmers from Puerto De Luna in the Pecos Valley of New Mexico. Reportedly, the beauty of the desert flatlands of New Mexico, referenced as the llano in Anaya’s writings, had a profound influence on his early childhood. When he was in eighth grade, Anaya’s family relocated from rural New Mexico to Albuquerque in 1952.
He attended Albuquerque High School and when he was sixteen, a swimming accident left Anaya temporarily paralyzed. This experience later appeared as an autobiographical allusion in his novel Tortuga. Later, following high school, he earned a B.A. in English and American Literature from the University of New Mexico in 1963 before going on to complete two master’s degrees at the University of New Mexico, one in 1968 for English and another in 1972 for guidance and counseling. While earning his master’s degrees, Anaya worked as a high school English teacher in the Albuquerque public schools from 1963 until 1968.
A Chicano Icon
Due to its unique combination of English and Spanish as well as Chicano-centric content, Anaya initially had difficulty publishing his first book, Bless Me, Ultima. However, the book won the Premio Quinto Sol award in 1971, leading to its quick publication. This was the first of over 20 awards that Anaya has won thus far and Bless Me, Ultima has sold over 300,000 copies in 21 printings.
Following the book’s success, Anaya was invited to join the English faculty at the University of New Mexico in 1975, where he taught until his retirement in 1993. Anaya then traveled extensively through both China and South America following his retirement and he chronicled his experiences in China in his travel journal, A Chicano in China (1986). During the 90’s, Anaya found an even wider audience as mainstream publishing house Warner books signed him on for a six-book deal beginning with his novel Alburquerque. Subsequent novels included Zia Summer, Rio Grande Fall, Jalamanta: A Message from the Desert, Shaman Winter, and The Anaya Reader, a collection of his works. Anaya currently resides in Albuquerque where he still spends his days writing.
Revel in the Inspiration
Ready to soak up the inspirational landscape on your next trip? Contact us today and be sure to bring a journal to jot down your own masterpiece.