Helena Maria Viramontes

Fourth Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature to be presented to Helena Maria Viramontes

Believed to be the first of its kind, the award has been created by the University of California, Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Book & Author Festival to recognize an accomplished writer of the Chicano/Latino experience.

The award is in honor of Luis Leal, a professor of Chicano Studies at UCSB and a pioneer in promoting the merit of Mexican, Chicano, and Latin American literary and cultural traditions.

Born in East Los Angeles in 1954, her parents met while working the fields as farm workers. Later, her father became a construction worker and her mother was a housewife. She worked part-time while attending Immaculate Heart College and earned her B.A. as one of only five Chicanas in her class in 1975. She finished MFA in creative writing in 1994 at the University of California, Irvine. She is now a professor of English at Cornell University and her short stories have been published in a variety of literary journals. The major themes of her stories are informed by her childhood experiences in East Los Angeles, and the impact of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers on the life of her family.

We are excited to be honoring Helena Maria Viramontes.

The award includes a $1,500 prize, a plaque, and coverage of expenses while appearing at the festival.

Read the press release from UCSB on the Leal Award here.