Leal Award Goes to Latina Writer
Helena María Viramontes, a writer and professor of English at Cornell University, will be the recipient this Saturday, Sept. 30, of the Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature. It is given annually by UCSB, the Santa Barbara Book & Author Festival, and Santa Barbara City College.
Considered one of the country’s premier Latina writers, Viramontes will be presented with the Leal Award at the book festival at 4 p.m. in the Santa Barbara Public Library’s Faulkner Gallery.
She is the author of “The Moths and Other Stories” and “Under the Feet of Jesus,” a novel about a migrant farming family. Her new novel, “Their Dogs Came With Them,” will be published in 2007.
The award is named after Luis Leal, professor of Chicana/Chicano studies, who is an internationally recognized scholar of Chicano and Latino literature. He will celebrate his 99th birthday this year.
“Viramontes is one of the most innovative and poetic of contemporary Latino writers in the United States, and one whose work deserves even greater recognition,” says Mario Garcia, UCSB professor of Chicano studies and history, who organizes the annual Leal Award.
She has received numerous other awards and honors, including the John Dos Passos Award for Literature. Her short stories and essays have been widely anthologized, and her writings adopted for classroom use and university study.
With María Herrera-Sobek, UCSB associate vice chancellor for diversity, equity, and academic policy, Viramontes has co-edited two collections: “Chicana (W)rites: On Word and Film” and “Chicana Creativity and Criticism.”