One of the great joys of reading fiction is when you get a novel that makes want to read on after you finished it. There are a lot of novels I have enjoyed reading, but once I close the book or eBook (these days) then I’m done with it. Well, Alburquerque by Rudolfo Anaya is one of those few novels I wanted to continue reading on after completing the last page.
It is the story of Abran Gonzalez, a young boxer from Alburquerque who is brought to the hospital to see his biological mother, Cynthia Johnson, for the first time. Johnson is a wealthy Anglo artist and reveals on her deathbed to Abran that she is his mother. Abran learns his mother had a relationship with an unknown Mexican man that his grandfather wanted to be kept a secret. Abran is determined to find out about his biological father and true identity.
His journey takes him into the world of city politics, big business, and puts his love to the test with a young woman whom he believes is his soulmate. Anaya writes a love letter to his hometown of Alburquerque (this is the original spelling of the city’s name before the first “R” was dropped) and brings the city’s tri-cultural heritage of Indian, Hispanic, and Anglo to light.
I lived in Albuquerque for five years from March 1998 to September 2003 and reading Anaya’s novel brought back a lot of memories and why I will always have a special place for the Duke City. Also, I knew about the desire from various businessman and politicians to make Albuquerque a great city of the Southwestern United States and on the same stage as Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Denver. Anaya does a superb job highlighting Albuquerque’s place as the big city in New Mexico, and its rivalry with Santa Fe (I lived there for 4 years).
Rudolfo Anaya was known for his modern classic, Bless Me Ultima, and rightly so. I would add that Alburquerque is his other influential novel and deserves to be widely read. We are in the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month and I would highly recommend Albuquerque as a must read.