Rudolfo A. Anaya
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Rudolfo Alfonso Anaya was born in the rural village of Pastura, New Mexico, to Martin and Rafaelita Anaya. He was raised in the nearby town of Santa Rosa, New Mexico. His father was a vaquero from a family of cattle workers and sheepherders. His mother’s family was composed of farmers from Puerto De Luna in the Pecos Valley of New Mexico. Anaya grew up with two half-brothers, from his mother’s previous marriage, and four sisters. 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.
Anaya’s family relocated from rural New Mexico to Albuquerque in 1952, when he was in the eighth grade. He attended Albuquerque High School, graduating in 1956. When he was sixteen, Anaya was hospitalized following a diving accident in which he fractured two neck vertebrae. This experience later appeared as an autobiographical allusion in his novel Tortuga. Following high school, he earned a B.A. in English and American Literature from the University of New Mexico in 1963. He went 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. In 1966, he married Patricia Lawless, who continues to support his writing.
He began writing Bless Me, Ultima in 1963, with the manuscript completed and published by Quinto Sol in 1972. Initially, Anaya faced tremendous difficulty getting his work published by mainstream publishing houses because of its unique combination of English and Spanish language, as well as its Chicano-centric content. Independent publishing house Quinto Sol quickly published the book after awarding it the Premio Quinto Sol in 1971 for best novel written by a Chicano. The book went on to sell 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, where he taught until his retirement in 1993. Anaya also traveled extensively through both China in 1984, and South America following his retirement. His experiences in China are chronicled in his travel journal, A Chicano in China, published in 1986. During the 90s, 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, and including subsequent novels Zia Summer, Rio Grande Fall, Jalamanta: A Message from the Dessert, Shaman Winter, and The Anaya Reader, a collection of his works.
Bless Me, Ultima was released as a full-length film on February 22, 2013. Anaya has also published a number of books for children and young adults. His first children's book was titled The Farolitos of Christmas, and was published in 1995. He currently resides in Albuquerque with his wife, and spends several hours daily writing.