Richard Rodriguez

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For other people named Richard Rodriguez, see Richard Rodriguez (disambiguation).
Richard Rodriguez
Richard rodriguez 3265.JPG
Rodriguez at the 2014 National Book Festival
Born (1944-07-31) July 31, 1944 (age 72)
San Francisco, California
Residence San Francisco, California
Nationality American
Ethnicity Mestizo[1] or Mexican-American[2]
Education Christian Brothers High School (Sacramento, California)
Sacred Heart School in Sacramento
Alma mater Stanford University, B.A. in English, 1967
Columbia University M.A. in philosophy, 1969
University of California, Berkeley, graduate study in English Renaissance literature 1969-72
Warburg Institute, London, dissertation research, 1972-73
Occupation Journalist
Agent Georges Borchardt, Inc., 136 East 57th St., New York, NY 10022
Known for opposition to bilingual education and affirmative action
Notable work Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez (autobiography), David R. Godine (Boston, MA), 1982.
Days of Obligation: An Argument with My Mexican Father (autobiography), Viking Penguin (New York, NY), 1992.
Brown: The Last Discovery of America, Viking (New York, NY), 2002.
Home town Sacramento, California
Television PBS Newshour
Religion Roman Catholic[3]
Partner(s) Jim
Parent(s) Leopoldo Rodriguez
Victoria Moran Rodriguez
Awards Fulbright Fellowship, 1972-73
-National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, 1976-77, and Frankel Medal
-Commonwealth Club gold medal, 1982
-Christopher Award, 1982, for Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez
-Anisfield-Wolf Award for Race Relations, 1982
-George Foster Peabody Award, 1997, for work on the MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour
-International Journalism Award, 1990, from World Affairs Council of California.
-Emmy Award, 1992

Richard Rodriguez (born July 31, 1944) is an American writer who became famous as the author of Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez (1982), a narrative about his intellectual development.

Early life[edit]

He was born on July 31, 1944, into a Mexican immigrant family in Sacramento, California. Rodriguez spoke Spanish until he went to a Catholic school at 6. As a youth in Sacramento, California, he delivered newspapers and worked as a gardener. He graduated from Sacramento's Christian Brothers High School.


Rodriguez received a B.A. from Stanford University, an M.A. from Columbia University, was a Ph.D. candidate in English Renaissance literature at the University of California, Berkeley, and attended the Warburg Institute in London on a Fulbright fellowship.[4] A noted prose stylist, Rodriguez has worked as a teacher, international journalist, and educational consultant, and he has appeared regularly on the Public Broadcasting Service show, NewsHour.[7] Rodriguez's visual essays, ''Richard Rodriguez Essays, on "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" earned Rodriguez a Peabody Award in 1997. Rodriguez’s books include Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez (1982), a collection of autobiographical essays; Mexico's Children (1990); Days of Obligation: An Argument With My Mexican Father (1992), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize; Brown: The Last Discovery of America (2002); and Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography (2013). Rodriguez's works have also been published in Harper's Magazine, Mother Jones, and Time.[8]

Instead of pursuing a career in academia, Rodriguez suddenly decided to write freelance and take other temporary jobs. His first book, Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, was published in 1982. It was an account of his journey from being a "socially disadvantaged child" to becoming a fully assimilated American, from the Spanish-speaking world of his family to the wider, presumably freer, public world of English. However, the journey was not without costs: his American identity was achieved only after a painful separation from his past, his family, and his culture. "Americans like to talk about the importance of family values," said Rodriguez. "But America isn't a country of family values; Mexico is a country of family values. This is a country of people who leave home."

While the book received widespread critical acclaim and won several literary awards, it also stirred resentment because of Rodriguez's strong stands against bilingual education and affirmative action. Some Mexican Americans called him pocho, Americanized Mexican, accusing him of betraying himself and his people. Others called him a "coconut," brown on the outside, but white on the inside. He calls himself "a comic victim of two cultures."[2]

Rodriguez's most recent book, Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography (2013), explores the important symbolism of the desert in Judaism, Islam, Christianity. In an interview before the book came out, Rodriguez reported that he was "interested in the fact that three great monotheistic religions were experienced within this ecology."[9] A sample of the project appeared in Harper's Magazine (January 2008). In this essay, "The God of the Desert: Jerusalem and the Ecology of Monotheism,"[10] Rodriguez portrays the desert as a paradoxical temple, its emptiness the requisite for God's elusive presence.

Personal life[edit]

Rodriguez is openly gay.[2] He came out in his book of essays Days of Obligation.[11]


  1. ^ Louise Steinman, Charles C. Mann, Richard Rodriguez (2011). World History - "1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created" - Book TV. Event occurs at 11:32.  Interview first broadcast Sun October 2, 2011. Duration 01:13:32.
  2. ^ a b c London, Scott (August 1997), "A View From the Melting Pot: An Interview with Richard Rodriguez", The Sun, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, no. 260, retrieved 2012-01-06  Originally titled Crossing Borders - An Interview With Richard Rodriguez.
  3. ^ PBS Newshour interview dated November 7, 2013
  4. ^ a b "Richard Rodriguez". Dictionary of Hispanic Biography (fee, via Fairfax County Public Library). Gale. November 6, 1996. GALE|K1611000359. Retrieved 2012-01-05.  Gale Biography In Context.
  5. ^ "Richard Rodriguez". Contemporary Authors Online (fee, via Fairfax County Public Schools). Detroit: Gale. 2003. GALE|H1000084032. Retrieved 2012-01-05.  Gale Biography In Context.
  6. ^ "Participants". 64th Annual Conference on World Affairs. CU-Boulder. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  7. ^ "NewsHour Essayists". PBS. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  8. ^ Wyrick, Jean; Slaughter, Beverly J. (1999). The Rinehart Reader (third ed.). Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers. pp. 309, 586. ISBN 0-15-505512-7.  (Thomson Heinle)
  9. ^ Rodriguez, Richard, "The God of the Desert" in The Best American Essays 2009, Ed. Mary Oliver (Mariner: Boston, 2009), 157
  10. ^ Rodriguez, Richard (2008-01-01). "The god of the desert". Harper's Magazine. ISSN 0017-789X. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  11. ^ Rodriguez, Richard (October 19, 1998), "My heterosexual dilemma",, retrieved 2007-10-26 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

External media
"Richard Rodriguez — The Fabric of Our Identity", On Being
"Richard Rodriguez—Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography." 7th Avenue Project, Oct. 13, 2013
Brown: The Last Discovery of America, Richard Rodriguez, writer, 2003 Melcher Book Award, WGBH News Forum May 14, 2003
Video (and audio) conversation with Rodriguez and Kerry Howley on