University of Oklahoma Press author Rudolfo Anaya will be awarded the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 22. Anaya will be honored “for his pioneering stories of the American Southwest. His works of fiction and poetry celebrate the Chicano experience and reveal universal truths about the human condition — and as an educator, he has spread a love of literature to new generations,” according to a National Endowment for the Humanities news release.
Anaya is one of 12 recipients who will be honored in conjunction with the National Medal of Arts. The awardees include authors, a poet, physician, historian, chef and a higher education program. First Lady Michelle Obama will attend the ceremony, which will stream live at WH.gov/live.
“Rudolfo Anaya richly deserves the National Humanities Medal,” said OU President David L. Boren. “He has used his exceptional talents as a wordsmith and as a story teller to depict Chicano experience and indeed the human experience in the American southwest. We are proud of the fact that the OU press has played a leading role in the publication of his works,” Boren said.
B. Byron Price, director of the OU Press, said, “Rudolfo Anaya has long led the way in Chicano literature with his stories of the American Southwest. Not only is it wonderful for the National Endowment for the Humanities to honor such a distinguished author, it is an honor for the University of Oklahoma Press to be the publisher of Rudolfo Anaya’s most recent works.”
The award-winning author of the classic Bless Me, Ultima, Anaya has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the 2001 National Medal of Arts and the 2012 Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement from the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. Throughout his career, Anaya also served as a professor in the University of New Mexico’s Department of English Language and Literature. Since retiring from the university in 1993 as a Professor Emeritus, Anaya has devoted his time to writing and traveling extensively throughout Europe and Mexico.
A versatile writer, Anaya has moved from one genre to another, earning acclaim as a novelist, a poet, a dramatist, an essayist, an anthologist, a playwright, a children’s author, a travel writer and an editor. His most recent works, all published by the OU Press, include three novels: The Sorrows of Young Alfonso, The Old Man’s Love Story and Randy Lopez Goes Home; his first collection of poetry, Poems from the Río Grande; a collection of plays, Billy the Kid and Other Plays, a collection of short stories, The Man Who Could Fly and Other Stories, and a nonfiction compilation The Essays. All of these titles are part of the Chicana & Chicano Visions of the Américas series whose editor, Robert Con Davis-Undiano, is Neustadt Professor of Comparative Literature and Presidential Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma. The Forked Juniper: Critical Perspectives on Rudolfo Anaya, edited by Roberto Cantú, will be released in the series this November.
Anaya lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the Southwest has served as an inspiration for his writing throughout his life.