|© Robert A. Molina|
When author Ana Castillo reads from her novel “The Guardians” on April 30 at the University of Houston-Victoria, the immigration topics she’ll touch on will be as relevant now as they were when the book came out in 2007.
“The novel mentions all of the perils and violence we are still hearing about,” said Castillo, a celebrated novelist, poet, short story writer and essayist. “I think it’s still a very timely, personal story.”
Castillo will be the final speaker in the UHV/American Book Review Spring Reading Series. The series will continue in the fall. Her free reading, followed by a question-and-answer session, will begin at noon in the Alcorn Auditorium of UHV’s University West building, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. The public is invited, and light refreshments will be served.
“The Guardians” tracks the dangerous lives of Mexicans who illegally cross into the U.S. for work. Rafa, one of the characters in the book, has vanished while crossing the border, and the other characters are consumed with searching for him.
“Ms. Castillo is one of the leading voices to emerge from the Chicana experience, and I look forward to listening to her views about these issues that are at the forefront of today’s news,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, ABR editor/publisher and dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences.
Castillo’s works include the novels “The Mixquiahuala Letters,” for which she received the Before Columbia Foundation’s American Book Award in 1987; “So Far From God,” which earned her both the Carl Sandburg Literary Award in Fiction in 1993 and the Mountains and Plains Bookseller Award in 1994; and “Peel My Love Like an Onion,” which was nominated for the Dublin Prize in 2000. She also published a nonfiction work in 1994 called “Massacre of the Dreamers: Essays on Xicanisma” and a book of short stories in 1996 called “Loverboys.”
Castillo, who lives in southern New Mexico, also is the author of several volumes of poetry, including “Women are not Roses,” “My Father was a Toltec” and “I Ask the Impossible.” She more recently published “Watercolor Women, Opaque Men,” a novel in verse that came out in 2005 and won the Independent Publishers Award for Outstanding Book of the Year in 2006.
Renowned Chicano author Rudolfo Anaya has referred to Castillo as “one of our finest Chicana novelists.” Her other awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in fiction and poetry, and in 1998, the Sor Juana Achievement Award from the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Chicago.
Castillo currently teaches memoir writing workshops and is in the middle of writing another book that has a working title of “The Last Goddess Standing,” she said. The novel takes place in Mexico City and southern New Mexico and is about the Virgin Mary and pre-Columbian goddesses.
Castillo is the fifth author to visit UHV this spring through the reading series. While in Victoria, the authors attend roundtable discussions with UHV faculty and students, make classroom visits to area schools, give lectures open to the community, and go to receptions hosted by Friends of ABR patrons. Past speakers have included Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Oshinsky, author and Iranian refugee Farnoosh Moshiri, Mexican American author Dagoberto Gilb and American Book Award recipient Graciela Limon.
“I really look forward to people coming out to my reading,” Castillo said.
ABR is a nonprofit, internationally distributed literary journal that is published six times a year. It began in 1977, moved to UHV in 2007 and has a circulation of about 8,000. The journal specializes in reviews of works published by small presses.
For more information about the UHV/ABR Reading Series, call ABR Managing Editor Charles Alcorn at 361-570-4100 or go to www.americanbookreview.org