Novelist John Rechy is this year’s recipient of the UC Santa Barbara’s Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature. The award will be presented during a ceremony at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 6, in the University Center’s Corwin Pavilion at UCSB. The event is free and open to the public.
Rechy is the author of several highly acclaimed novels, including “City of Night,” which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013; “Numbers”; and “The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez.” In addition, his essays have appeared in The Nation, The New York Review of Books, the Los Angeles Times, L.A. Weekly, The Village Voice, The New York Times and Saturday Review. He is the first novelist to receive PEN-USA’s Lifetime Achievement Award and is the first recipient of ONE Magazine’s Culture Hero Award.
Rechy has been nominated twice for the Los Angeles Times Book Awards Body of Work designation, and he has been named a fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition, he has received fiction awards from Phi Kappa Phi and the Longview Foundation.
“John Rechy is one of the most productive and courageous American writers of Mexican ancestry in the United States,” said Mario T. García, professor of Chicana and Chicano studies and of history at UCSB, and the organizer of the annual Leal Award. “In his many novels and other writings, beginning with his classic ‘City of Night’ of the early 1960s, Rechy has always pushed the envelope. Like all great writers, his work is artistic but also a commentary on social mores. He honors UCSB by receiving the Leal Award.”
Born in El Paso, Texas, of Mexican and Scottish ancestry, Rechy graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso. He has lectured at Harvard, Yale, Duke, UCLA, Occidental College and the University of Northern Illinois, among others. He currently teaches graduate courses in film and literature at the University of Southern California.
The Leal Award is named in honor of Luis Leal, a professor emeritus of Chicana and Chicano Studies at UCSB, who was internationally recognized as a leading scholar of Chicano and Latino literature. Previous award recipients of the award include Demetria Martínez, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Graciela Limón, Pat Mora, Alejandro Morales, Helena Maria Viramontes, Oscar Hijuelos, Rudolfo Anaya, Denise Chávez and Hector Tobar.