Richard Rodriguez

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Richard Rodriguez
Rodriguez at the 2014 National Book Festival
Born (1944-07-31) July 31, 1944 (age 79)
San Francisco, California, United States
EducationChristian Brothers High School (Sacramento, California)
Sacred Heart School in Sacramento
Alma materStanford 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
Agent(s)Georges Borchardt, Inc., 136 East 57th St., New York, NY 10022
Notable workHunger 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.
TelevisionPBS Newshour
Parent(s)Leopoldo Rodriguez
Victoria Moran Rodriguez
AwardsFulbright 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 San Francisco, 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.[1] 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.[4] 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.[5]

Instead of pursuing a career in academia, Rodriguez suddenly decided to write freelance and take other temporary jobs. Rodriguez worked as a contributing editor to newspapers and magazines, including Harpers and the Los Angeles Times.[6] 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."[7]

Rodriguez's most recent book, Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography (2013), explores the important symbolism of the desert in Judaism, Islam and 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."[8] 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,"[9] Rodriguez portrays the desert as a paradoxical temple, its emptiness the requisite for God's elusive presence.

Personal life[edit]

Rodriguez is gay.[7] He came out in his book of essays Days of Obligation.[10]


  • Hunger of memory : the education of Richard Rodriguez. 1982.
  • "The Castro". From the Archive. 1990. Harper's Magazine. 336 (2012): 35. January 2018.[11]
  • "Late Victorians" 1990. Harpers Magazine, October 1990


  1. ^ a b "Richard Rodriguez". Dictionary of Hispanic Biography. Gale. November 6, 1996. Gale K1611000359. Retrieved 2012-01-05 – via Fairfax County Public Library. Gale Biography In Context.
  2. ^ "Richard Rodriguez". Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale. 2003. Gale H1000084032. Retrieved 2012-01-05 – via Fairfax County Public Schools. Gale Biography In Context.
  3. ^ "Participants". 64th Annual Conference on World Affairs. CU-Boulder. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
  4. ^ "NewsHour Essayists". PBS. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ Perivolaris, J. D. (2001). Rodríguez, Richard 1944- In M. Jolly (Ed.), Encyclopedia of life writing: autobiographical and biographical forms. London, UK: Routledge. Retrieved from
  7. ^ a b 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.
  8. ^ Rodriguez, Richard, "The God of the Desert" in The Best American Essays 2009, Ed. Mary Oliver (Mariner: Boston, 2009), 157
  9. ^ Rodriguez, Richard (2008-01-01). "The god of the desert". Harper's Magazine. ISSN 0017-789X. Retrieved 2016-04-20.
  10. ^ Rodriguez, Richard (October 19, 1998), "My heterosexual dilemma",, retrieved 2007-10-26
  11. ^ Extract from Rodriguez, Richard (October 1990). "Late Victorians : San Francisco, AIDS, and the homosexual stereotype". Harper's Magazine.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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