Go to New York State Writers Institute
Acclaimed Mexican-American
Memoirist, Journalist & Social Critic

Richard Rodriguez
Richard Rodriguez
April 8, 2003

4:15 p.m. Informal Seminar
Assembly Hall, Campus Center

8:00 p.m. Reading
Recital Hall, PAC

UAlbany, Uptown Campus

Brown: The Last Discovery of America

Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez

Richard Rodriguez is best known for his landmark autobiography, Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez (1982). The book recounts Rodriguez' journey as a gifted minority student who becomes painfully alienated from his Mexican-American roots. As as exploration of the tensions inherent in the "hyphenated" American identity, Hunger of Memory possesses universal appeal and has become one of the central texts of the modern multicultural curriculum.

"Arresting. . .Splendidly written intellectual autobiography." - Boston Globe

In his latest nonfiction book, Brown: The Last Discovery of America (2002), Rodriguez attacks accepted notions and definitions of race. The color brown effectively blurs distinctions between black and white. "Rodriguez uses the color 'brown' as a metaphor for the in-between states of being and as a symbol of the non-linear and unexpected," says Publishers Weekly, "to make his case that our historical and contemporary conceptualization of race is rudimentary and psychologically and culturally damaging." For Rodriguez, "brown" is not a singular color, but a mixture, and a metaphor for all of us. Elegantly written and accessible, the new book is also an examination of the impact of Latinos on American culture and the impact of American culture on Latinos.

Days of Obligation: An Argument with My Mexican FatherRodriguez's second book Days of Obligation: An Argument with My Mexican Father (1992), is a collection of autobiographical essays that address many of the issues of Latino identity explored in Hunger of Memory. As a gay man living in San Francisco, Rodriguez also explores the nature of gay culture, and the subcultures that exist within it.

"revolutionary" [the book as a whole is] "worthy of inclusion in the long American tradition of spiritual autobiography." - Rockwell Gray, Chicago Tribune

Richard Rodriguez is an editor at Pacific News Service, and a contributing editor for Harpers Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, and the Sunday "Opinion" section of the Los Angeles Times. He has published numerous articles in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The American Scholar, Time, Mother Jones, and The New Republic.

In 1997, Rodriguez received a George Foster Peabody Award for this Essays on American Life that appeared on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. The Peabody Award is deigned to recognize "outstanding achievement in broadcast and cable," and is one of television's highest honors. Rodriguez's other awards for journalism include the Frankel Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the International Journalism Award from the World Affairs Council of California.

PBS Online Essays
Insight & Outlook Interview
Salon.com Essays