Rudolfo Anaya, 82, who helped spark a Chicano literary renaissance with his 1972 novel “Bless Me, Ultima,” a lyrical coming-of-age story that drew on Southwestern myth and folklore while exploring Mexican-American identity, died June 28 at his home in Albuquerque.
Anaya was dubbed the godfather of the Chicano novel, a title that was largely the result of his critically acclaimed debut. Mixing Spanish and English in its descriptions of the New Mexico llano, or flatlands, where Anaya was raised, the book sold hundreds of thousands of copies and was adapted into a 2013 film.
He later wrote dozens of novels, plays, nonfiction books and poetry collections while teaching at his alma mater, the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and in 2016 received the National Humanities Medal.
“His works of fiction and poetry celebrate the Chicano experience and reveal universal truths about the human condition — and as an educator, he has spread a love of literature to new generations,” the White House said at the time.
Anaya rose to prominence during the Chicano Movement, which began in the 1960s as Mexican-Americans campaigned for political, economic and cultural empowerment. It took him seven years, and at least as many drafts, to write and publish “Bless Me, Ultima.”
The manuscript was rejected by dozens of publishers before receiving a newly created Chicano literary prize from Quinto Sol, a small California press that published the novel and other milestones of Chicano literature.
“Bless Me, Ultima” was followed by two semi-autobiographical books that formed a loose trilogy: “Heart of Aztlán” (1976), about a family that moves from the countryside to the city; and “Tortuga” (1979), about a boy recovering from a crippling accident that mirrored Anaya’s own childhood neck injury.
Rudolfo Alfonso Anaya was born in Pastura, N.M., on Oct. 30, 1937, and grew up in rural Santa Rosa.
The Rev. Georg Ratzinger, 96, a Roman Catholic priest and celebrated choirmaster who was the older brother of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, died Wednesday in Regensburg, Germany, where he had lived for most of his life.
Benedict traveled from the Vatican to see his brother, who was ill, in Germany last month.
While Ratzinger had a lot in common with his younger brother — they were ordained to the priesthood the same year, and they both played piano — the elder Ratzinger had a career independent of the Vatican, the world that so consumed his brother’s life.
After studying music in Munich and serving as a choral director in various German churches, Ratzinger became the music director at the 10th-century St. Peter’s Cathedral in Regensburg, a city about 75 miles northeast of Munich. He served as choirmaster of one of Europe’s great children’s choirs, the Regensburg Domspatzen from 1964 to 1994.
He led the choir on concert tours to the United States, Scandinavia, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, Ireland, Poland, Hungary and the Vatican. He also oversaw the professional recording of numerous works, including J.S. Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” and Heinrich Schütz’s “Psalmen Davids.”
In 1977, Ratzinger conducted the choir at his brother’s consecration as archbishop of Munich and Freising. Joseph Ratzinger was named a cardinal shortly after and became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, after the death of Pope John Paul II.
Georg Ratzinger was also the author of “My Brother, the Pope” (2011), an as-told-to memoir written with Michael Hesemann. He told Hesemann that the dynamics between the siblings shifted after 2005. He fondly recalled that for much of his life, Joseph Ratzinger would introduce himself as “the little brother of the famous choral director.” But after his brother became pope, he added, he became known primarily as “the brother of the pope.”
Georg Ratzinger was born on Jan. 15, 1924, in Pleiskirchen, Bavaria.