Las Vegas, N.M – Highlands University presents native New Mexican author and professor Gabriel Meléndez in a talk at Donnelly Library Sept. 26 at 6 p.m. at 802 National Ave.
Meléndez will also read from his award-winning 2017 book, The Book of Archives and Other Stories from the Mora Valley, New Mexico.
“This book honors my ancestors in Northern New Mexico and the people of Mora, where I was born,” Meléndez said. “The stories I tell here speak of good luck, misfortune, hard times and personal tragedies. Mostly they speak about what people believed to be true about life: honest work, pride, family, bravery, suffering, betrayal, death and redemption.”
Meléndez said that he started working on the idea for the book a number of years ago.
“It came together during 2014, when all the voices of the people I had known began to speak to me as I wrote. In the opening of the book I write: ‘Our ancestors are the unseen visitors who sit at our kitchen tables when we speak of the past; they are the ancestral countenances we believe we’ve recognized on the faces of strangers we pass on the street,’” Meléndez said.
Meléndez, a Fulbright scholar, received the honor of distinguished professor of American Studies at the University of New Mexico, where he directs the Center for Regional Studies. He served three terms as American Studies chair between 1999 and 2013.
One reviewer for the Book of Archives and Other Stories from the Mora Valley, New Mexico, writes: “A native of Mora with el don de la palabras, the gift of words, Meléndez mines historical sources and his own imagination to reconstruct the valley’s story, first in English and then in Spanish. He strings together humorous, tragic, and everyday vignettes about historical events and unlikely occurrences, creating a vivid portrait of Mora, both in cultural memory and present reality.”
The Book of Archives and Other Stories from the Mora Valley, New Mexico, received awards for historical fiction from the New Mexico Book Association in 2017 and the International Latino Book Award Association in 2018.
Meléndez is the author and editor for a number of other books, among them are: So All is Not Lost: The Poetics of Print in Nuevomexicano Communities, 1836-1958 in 1997; The Multicultural Southwest: A Reader in 2001; Santa Fe Nativa: A Collection of Nuevomexicano Writing in 2010; Hidden Chicano Cinema: Film Dramas in the Borderlands in 2013; and The Legend of Ponciano Gutiérrez and the Mountain Thieves in 2013.
“Donnelly Library is delighted that we can host this important regional scholar,” said April Kent, head of public services at Donnelly. “We think this program will appeal to those with strong interest in storytelling and Mora’s history. Dr. Meléndez is a captivating speaker.”