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SAN ANTONIO—In commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month, LatinoStories.Com has announced this year’s selection for its “One Brown Book, One Nation” program that highlights Latino literature across the United States and promotes one book by a Latino author.
       This year’s winner, Bless Me, Ultima by Chicano author, Rudolfo Anaya was hailed for its powerful prose by a national committee that includes Vincent Bosquez, president of the Society of Latino and Hispanic Writers of San Antonio; Jose B. Gonzalez, poet and editor of LatinoStories.Com, and elena minor, editor of PALABRA: A Magazine of Chicano and Latino Literary Art.
       Described by Bosquez as a “
classic of Hispanic literature that continually needs to be rediscovered and appreciated for the coming-of-age story it tells,” Bless Me, Ultima was originally published in 1972 and has been translated into numerous languages. 
        The novel tells the story of a six-year old boy, Antonio, whose life is forever changed when his Aunt Ultima moves into his family’s home in New Mexico during the 1940s.  He faces many challenges as he witnesses a death, is exposed to bigotry, and tries to figure out the role of faith.  As he grows up, Antonio learns many lifelong lessons from Ultima, a curandera (healer) who guides him spiritually and morally. 

         Listed by the American Library Association among the top 100 “Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000,” Bless Me, Ultima has often been misunderstood for having a main character that is mistakenly perceived as a witch and for references to paganism.  The winner of various awards, Anaya’s book has been taught in schools and colleges across the U.S., yet as minor points out, “there are a whole lot of people who haven’t read it yet.” 

         “This year’s selection should remind readers that Latinos have produced great classics of American literature,” said Gonzalez. “If you’ve never read Bless Me, Ultima, you owe it to yourself; if you’ve already read it, you need to hold it in your hands again and appreciate Anaya’s words as you turn those wonderful pages and watch them come to life.”
Other 2008 finalists for the One Brown Book program were James Cañon’s Tales from the Town of Widows and Fred Arroyo’s The Region of Lost Names  
           Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) celebrates the culture and traditions of U.S. residents who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico and the Spanish-speaking nations of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Sept. 15 was chosen as the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.