“Bless Me, Ultima” is a classic novel by Rudolfo Anaya that has captivated readers for decades. This coming-of-age story follows the life of Antonio, a young Chicano boy growing up in New Mexico during the 1940s. Through the eyes of Antonio, readers are taken on a journey of self-discovery as he grapples with issues of identity, religion, and morality. The novel is a rich tapestry of cultural traditions and folklore that sheds light on the complexities of the Chicano experience. Whether you choose to read the book or listen to the audiobook, “Bless Me, Ultima” is a poignant and thought-provoking work that offers a unique perspective on American literature.
Rudolfo Anaya (October 30, 1937 – June 28, 2020) was an American author and one of the most prominent Chicano writers of the 20th century. He was born in New Mexico, and much of his work was inspired by his upbringing in a rural, Spanish-speaking community.
Anaya’s most famous novel is “Bless Me, Ultima,” which was published in 1972 and is considered a classic of Chicano literature. The novel tells the story of a young Chicano boy, Antonio Marez, who is mentored by Ultima, a curandera, as he navigates the complexities of his cultural identity and spiritual beliefs. Anaya’s other works include “Alburquerque,” “Heart of Aztlan,” and “Tortuga,” among others.
Anaya was a prolific writer who also wrote poetry, children’s books, and essays. He was a strong advocate for Chicano rights and cultural preservation, and his work often explored the themes of identity, tradition, and the struggles of marginalised communities.
Anaya received numerous awards and honours throughout his career, including the National Humanities Medal in 2015, and was a beloved figure in the Chicano literary community. He passed away in 2020 at the age of 82.
“If you haven’t encountered Rudolfo Anaya’s classic 1972 novel in another form, there could hardly be a better introduction than this fluid performance by Robert Ramirez…. Kudos to all involved in this moving tale of growth, belief, and the nature and sources of goodness. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award, 2005 Audie Award Finalist.” (AudioFile magazine)
“Besides winning the Premio Quinto Sol national Chicano literary award, this novel of a young boy in New Mexico in the 1940s has sold more than 300,000 copies in paperback since its 1973 debut…. LJ’s reviewer asserted that ‘the novel has warmth and feeling’.”
“Bless Me, Ultima” is a coming-of-age novel written by Rudolfo Anaya, first published in 1972. It is a classic piece of Chicano literature that has won many awards and has been widely acclaimed for its portrayal of cultural and religious conflicts in a young boy’s life.
The audiobook version of “Bless Me, Ultima” is narrated by Robert Ramirez, who does an excellent job of bringing the story to life. Ramirez’s voice is clear, soothing, and easy to understand, making it an enjoyable listening experience.
The story follows Antonio Marez, a young Chicano boy growing up in New Mexico during the 1940s. Antonio is caught between two worlds: the traditional, rural way of life his parents come from, and the modern, urban way of life his teachers and peers represent. As Antonio struggles to find his place in the world, he turns to Ultima, a curandera (traditional healer) who has come to live with his family, for guidance.
Through Ultima, Antonio begins to understand the spiritual and mystical forces that shape the world around him. He learns about the power of nature, the importance of family, and the complexity of good and evil. Along the way, he is confronted with the harsh realities of life, including death, violence, and prejudice.
One of the strengths of the audiobook version of “Bless Me, Ultima” is the way Ramirez captures the different accents and dialects of the characters. He effortlessly switches between English and Spanish, giving the listener a sense of the rich cultural tapestry that makes up Antonio’s world.
Overall, the audiobook version of “Bless Me, Ultima” is a powerful and moving rendition of a classic novel. It is a must-listen for anyone interested in Chicano literature, coming-of-age stories, or stories about the search for identity and meaning. Ramirez’s narration adds depth and richness to an already powerful story, making it a truly unforgettable experience.
Although I read the book years ago, I wanted to review the novel. At the same time, I’ve gotten back into calligraphy and so wanted an audio book. There are sadly few works of Latino/a literature on Audible.com but Bless Me, Ultima is one of them. Listening to the wonderful reading by Robert Ramirez brought me a different and deeper appreciation of Rudolfo Anaya’s novel. I would highly recommend discovering or rediscovering this text through its audio form.
Published in 1972, the Bildungsroman novel Bless Me, Ultima is a Chicano literature classic. The basic story is narrated by Antonio Márez, who is only six years old at the novel’s beginning. He is a child torn between ways — between the Lunas –his mother’s Catholic farmer family and his father’s wild vaquero background; between Spanish, the language of home and English, the language of education; between the Catholic religion and the traditional earth religions of the curandera and his native ancestors. Though Ultima, the curandera who comes to live with the family at the story’s beginning, Tony becomes entangled in a series of battles between good and evil, personified in the struggle between Ultima and three evil witches and their father. He is also witness to three deaths which change him and cause him to question all he has faith in (except for Ultima) and realise he must define his own faith.
The story of Bless Me, Ultima is well known, but it takes on added dimension through Ramirez’s reading. I normally tend to read quickly, but listening to audiobooks forced me to slow down and appreciate the quiet beauty of text and its evocative depiction of the New Mexican landscape. I listened to the book as though the adult Tony were telling me this story of his childhood. There is reverence in Ramirez’s voice as reads Anaya’s words about the wisdom and magic of Ultima. It was like being in a dream and I was sorry when the novel ended and I had to awaken.
In conclusion, “Bless Me, Ultima” is a timeless masterpiece that continues to captivate and inspire readers and listeners alike. Rudolfo Anaya’s lyrical writing style, combined with Robert Ramirez’s excellent narration, creates a powerful and moving listening experience that will stay with you long after the audiobook is over.
This coming-of-age story explores complex themes of identity, culture, spirituality, and the human experience, all through the eyes of a young boy growing up in rural New Mexico. Anaya’s portrayal of the cultural and religious conflicts that Antonio experiences is poignant and thought-provoking, making it a must-read for anyone interested in Chicano literature or the search for meaning and purpose in life.
Whether you choose to read the novel or listen to the audiobook, “Bless Me, Ultima” is a powerful and unforgettable work of art that deserves a place in any literary collection. Its universal themes and timeless message make it a true classic, and a testament to the enduring power of great storytelling.