Rudolfo Anaya

Rudolfo A. Anaya, in full Rudolfo Alfonso Anaya (born October 30, 1937), American novelist and educator whose fiction expresses his Mexican American heritage, the tradition of folklore and oral storytelling in Spanish, and the Jungian mythic perspective.

Anaya learned to speak English only when he started school. As a teen, he broke his back, and his recovery from that experience affected his worldview. He graduated from the University of New Mexico (B.A., 1963; M.A., 1968; M.A., 1972) and worked as a public school teacher in Albuquerque (1963–70) before becoming director of counseling at the University of Albuquerque. From 1974 to 1993 he taught at the University of New Mexico.

Bless Me, Ultima (1972), Anaya’s acclaimed first novel, concerns a young boy growing up in New Mexico in the late 1940s and an elderly healer who changes his life. Heart of Aztlán (1976) follows a family’s move from rural to urban surroundings and confronts some of the problems of Chicano labourers. In Tortuga (1979) Anaya examines the emotions of a boy encased in a body cast at a hospital for paralyzed children (reflecting experiences that were Anaya’s as a child). These three novels make up a trilogy about Hispanic children in the United States. The novel The Legend of La Llorona (1984) is about La Malinche, an Indian slave who became the mistress, guide, and interpreter of the conquistador Hernán Cortés. Anaya’s other works include The Adventures of Juan Chicaspatas (1985) and Alburquerque (1992; the title gives the original spelling of the city’s name). His series of mystery novels featuring Chicano private investigator Sonny Baca includes Zia Summer (1995), Rio Grande Fall (1996), Shaman Winter (1999), and Jemez Spring (2005). In addition to fiction, he wrote A Chicano in China (1986), a nonfiction account of his travels; short stories, such as those in Serafina’s Stories (2004) and The Man Who Could Fly and Other Stories (2006); and a number of children’s books, as well as plays and poems. An advocate of multiculturalism and bilingualism, he translated, edited, and contributed to numerous anthologies of Hispanic writing. In 2002 he was awarded a National Medal of Arts.
La Llorona: The Crying Woman
Author: Rudolfo Anaya
Traditional Territory: Mexican
Format: Hardcover
  • La Llorona, the Crying Woman, is the legendary creature who haunts rivers, lakes, and lonely roads. Said to seek out children who disobey their parents, she has become a "boogeyman," terrorizing the imaginations of New Mexican children and inspiring them to behave. But there are other lessons her tragic history can demonstrate for children.

    In Rudolfo Anaya's version Maya, a young woman in ancient Mexico, loses her children to Father Time's cunning. This tragic and informative story serves as an accessible message of mortality for children. La Llorona, deftly translated by Enrique Lamadrid, is familiar and newly informative, while Amy Córdova's rich illustrations illuminate the story. The legend as retold by Anaya, a man as integral to southwest tradition as La Llorona herself, is storytelling anchored in a very human experience. His book helps parents explain to children the reality of death and the loss of loved ones.

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