Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima is about pride and assimilation, faith and doubt. The summer before Antonio Juan Márez y Luna turns seven, an old woman with healing powers comes to live with his family. There is something magical and mystical about Anaya's coming-of-age story in post-World War II New Mexico. The novel presents a world where everyday life is still full of dreams, legends, prayers, and folkways.
The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to revitalize the role of literary reading in American popular culture. Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America, a 2004 NEA report, identified a critical decline in reading for pleasure among American adults. The Big Read addresses this issue by bringing communities together to read, discuss, and celebrate books and writers from American and world literature.
A great book combines enlightenment with enchantment. It awakens our imagination and enlarges our humanity. It can even offer harrowing insights that somehow console and comfort us. Whether you're a regular reader already or making up for lost time, thank you for joining The Big Read.
Rudolfo Anaya, 1992 (Copyright Marion Ettlinger)
New Mexico landscape (Copyright George H. H. Huey/CORBIS)