Born January 21, 1929
Died April 19, 2022
The Editors of Somos en escrito Magazine extend their condolences to the family and friends of Rolando Hinojosa-Smith.
Rolando Hinojosa has been one of the most prolific Chicano writers over the past 50 years with much of his work set against the backdrop of a fictional small town, Klail City, that he created in south Texas. He sought to portray his hometown, Mercedes, Texas, from the perspective of being one with the land and the people. At the same time, he projected the universality of life along the border.
An essayist, poet and teacher as well, Rolando taught writing as Ellen Clayton Garwood professor at the University of Texas at Austin. The National Book Critics Circle honored him in 2013 with its Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. Hinojosa was the first Chicano author to receive the prestigious Premio Casa de las Américas award for Klail City y sus alrededores (Klail City), and received the third Premio Quinto Sol Annual Prize in 1973 for his work, Estampas del Valle y otras obras.
In a lengthy interview published in Americana E-Journal of American Studies in Hungary, Vol. IX, Number 1, Spring 2013, he told the interviewer when asked what he considered the most relevant, either practical or theoretical, aspects that he felt important to share with students: “I teach creative writing at my home institution along with other courses, but in creative writing, I stress reading; we began the class sponsored by Graz University stressing reading. Why? Because reading is imperative; one begins to read, enjoys it, is captivated by it, and one day, begins to write, to create, based, of course, on reading. Some people think that imagination is everything. It isn’t; imagination can only take one so far; one needs to read and to learn from reading and living one’s life and learning how others live.”
Is there any other practical wisdom, the interviewer asked, and Hinojosa declared: “Yes. I advise beginning writers to use clear, everyday language. To try not to show off how much one knows. An experienced reader will see through the phoniness of using high-toned language when none is called for. Writing is not about self-aggrandizement, that’s for amateurs. A professional has a story to tell, and learning how to tell it without resorting to pointing to oneself is an important part of writing.”
Here is a list of his major works, some in English only, others as “renditions” as he referred to his translations of his Spanish or English writings.
We Happy Few. 2006.
Dear Rafe/Mi querido Rafa. 2005.
Ask a Policeman. 1998.
Estampas del Valle. 1994.
El condado de Belken: Klail City. 1994.
The Useless Servants. 1993.
Los amigos de Becky. 1991.
Korea Liebes Lieder/Korean Love Songs. 1991.
Becky and her Friends. 1990.
Klail City. 1987.
This Migrant Earth. 1987.
Claros varones de Belken. 1986.
Dear Rafe. 1985.
Partners in Crime. 1985.
The Valley. 1983. (Hinojosa's own translation of Estampas del Valle)
Rites and Witnesses. 1982.
Crossing the Line: The Construction of a Poem. 1981.
Mi querido Rafa. 1981.
Klail City und Umgebung. 1981.
Generaciones y semblanzas. 1979.
Generaciones, notas y brechas. 1978.
Korean Love Songs. 1978.
Klail City y sus alrededores. 1976.
Estampas del Valle y otras obras. 1973.