As part of a new reading series sponsored by the American Book Review at the University of Houston-Victoria, famed Mexican-American author Dagoberto Gilb will be appearing on campus to speak about his journey from construction worker to celebrated short fiction writer, essayist and editor on Thursday, Sept. 20 from noon to 1:30 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.
Gilb, currently on the faculty of the Texas State University (San Marcos) Creative Writing Department, is a native of Los Angeles and longtime resident of El Paso who now lives in Austin. He spent 16 years making his living as a carpenter before winning wide acclaim for his story collection “The Magic of Blood.” That collection won the PEN/Hemingway award and was a PEN/Faulkner finalist.
Gilb has also been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writer’s Award and a Dobie-Paisano Fellowship from the Texas Institute of Letters. He is also the author of the novel “The Last Known Residence of Mickey Acuna” and the essay collections “Woodcuts with Women” and “Gritos.”
ABR Associate Editor Eric Miles Williamson had this to say in Houston Chronicle review:
“A splendid and touching and intelligent work that demonstrates the difficulties of becoming an artist when coming from modest means. . . . “Gritos” is a book serious readers need to read. Gilb’s voice is one too seldom heard.”
Gilb recently published as its editor, “Hecho en Tejas: An Anthology of Texas Mexican Literature” (2006). Meant to reach the ignored Mexican American community as a whole, the volume is being embraced at the junior high, high school, and college levels—so much attention has been coming to it that the anthology is fast becoming seen as representative of a larger movement of empowerment and education about and for Mexican American culture and story both inside and outside Texas. Gilb’s latest work, “The Flowers: A Novel,” is set for publication by Grove Press on Jan. 21, 2008.
Copies of “Hecho en Tejas” and the essay collection “Gritos” will be available for purchase and signing by the author after the lecture.
Lauded by critics as one of this country’s most authentic literary voices, Gilb’s prose style displays both fearlessness and wit. When asked to distinguish between fiction and creative non-fiction during an interview with American Short Fiction, the author is typically straightforward.
“Fiction tells the "truth" better than "reality" because fiction works as mythic, dreamlike storytelling, and is not for the information stream. Fiction's intention is to nourish the wisdom of the psyche, the heart, the soul.
“Nonfiction is fascinated with the mystery as it appears in a sequence of "actual," researchable events. Good nonfiction uses fictional techniques, as fiction uses nonfiction techniques. If a writer doesn't know, at the beginning, what the difference is, that writer's world, sayeth me, will soon enough be censored as the rest of our world is becoming.”
“Dagoberto Gilb is one of the most celebrated and outspoken writers in America,” said ABR Publisher and UHV Dean of Arts & Sciences, Dr. Jeffrey Di Leo. “Moreover, his recently published landmark anthology, “Hecho en Tejas,” has established the canon of Mexican American literature in Texas. I find it both thrilling and appropriate that he will be on campus for a UHV/ABR Reading Series event.”
“It is an honor to welcome Dagoberto Gilb to UHV as part of our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month,” said President Tim Hudson. “I’m also inspired by the talent and keen insights found in his fiction and essays. One of a university’s primary obligations is to provide opportunities for students, faculty, and the community, to interact, on a personal level, with public intellectuals. We’re grateful for the enthusiastic way Victorians have embraced our Reading Series speakers. It means a lot to us.”
The American Book Review, which is sponsoring the event, is an internationally-distributed literary journal with a circulation of about 8,000 copies. The editorial office of ABR moved to UHV in 2006 when Di Leo took over as editor-in-chief.
This month, the transfer of ABR will be complete with the journal’s layout, printing and distribution moving from Illinois State University to Victoria.
Past speakers for the ABR Reading Series have included Graciela Limón, Justin Cronin, Angela Ball, Raymond Federman, Andrei Codrescu and Chitra Divakaruni.
For more information on Dagoberto Gilb, or the ABR Reading Series, contact ABR Managing Editor Dr. Charles Alcorn at (361) 570-4100.