Nicolas Kanellos' project to recover a half-million lost works written by Hispanic authors has substantially raised awareness about Latino literature from the colonial period to 1960.
Now, Kanellos, a professor at the University of Houston since 1980, will bring his publishing expertise to the University of Houston-Victoria on Thursday as the first author of the fall American Book Review Reading series. The public is invited to attend the free event, and light refreshments will be served.
Kanellos and his students have preserved and made accessible more than 500,000 written works of Latinos in America through the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project.
"We are honored to welcome Dr. Kanellos to Victoria to kick off the fall reading series," said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the UHV School of Arts and Sciences. "His impact on Latino literature is immeasurable. His publishing house, literary journal and recovery projects have paved the way for people to enjoy the works of thousands of Latino writers."
Kanellos is the author or editor of more than 30 books. He is the founding publisher of noted Hispanic literary journal The Americas Review. In 1979, he started the nation's oldest and most esteemed Hispanic publishing house, Arte Publico Press. The press is the largest nonprofit publisher of literature in the U.S.
Rather than give a reading from a specific book at UHV, Kanellos said he plans to share some insight into the world of publishing. Kanellos said publishing is always a struggle; though recently, his publishing house has received considerable acclaim. Authors who have had recent works published by Arte Publico Press have won the National Book Critics Circle Lifetime Achievement Award and PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award.
Kanellos has received numerous awards himself, including the 1989 American Book Award in the Publisher/Editor Category, the 1988 Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature presented by the White House and the 2013 Houston Mayor's Hispanic Heritage Awards for Education in the Community.
"We have a local presence that is important," Kanellos said. "We try to contribute a lot to education in the Houston area."
Kanellos' latest book, "Hispanic Immigrant Literature: El Sueno del Retorno," was named an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice and won the PEN Southwest Award for Non-Fiction.
Written and recorded by people from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and Central and South America, the book tells accounts of the trials and tribulations immigrants faced, reasons for emigrating and the adjustment to a new society.
"The book assembled 20 years of research in conjunction with our large research project, which uncovered all kinds of materials that were previously unknown," Kanellos said. "We also publish books about border culture and various issues about the border. In fact, we recently published a book on the subject by Sergio Troncoso called 'Our Lost Border.'"
Jeff Sartain, ABR managing editor and assistant professor in the UHV School of Arts & Sciences, praised Kanellos for making lost Latino literature available to educators, students and the public. The essays, autobiographies, historical and journalistic writings, novels, diaries and letters are digitally available through Internet research databases.
"The recovery project has unearthed an amazing number of literary works," Sartain said. "I'm sure Dr. Kanellos has many fascinating stories about how he and his team found these long-forgotten texts. His tireless pursuit of discovering Latino literature has led to much greater understanding of what life was like for Latinos during those time periods."
Kanellos will be available after the reading to sign copies of his book, which can be purchased at the event. During his visit, he will meet with students and attend functions in the community.
ABR is a nonprofit, internationally distributed literary journal published six times a year. It began in 1977, moved to UHV in 2007 and has a circulation of about 8,000. The journal specializes in reviews of works published by small presses.
For more information about the UHV/ABR Reading Series, call the ABR office at 361-570-4101 or go to americanbookreview.org.