LA Times columnist Hector Tobar already has a Pulitzer and a 2012 California Book Award gold medal for his latest novel, The Barbarian Nurseries. Tomorrow afternoon, he will officially take receipt of another on the campus of UC Santa Barbara.
Tobar is the 2012 winner of the Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature. He is being honored for his two novels as well as the non-fiction tome Translation Nation: Defining a New American Identity in the Spanish-Speaking United States. The intriguing thesis of that one is that because of the work Latino immigrants must engage in today to preserve their Latin American identities, they are “latter-day pioneers.”
“Hector Tobar is one of the most important social and political novelists of his generation,” said Mario T. García, the UCSB Chicana-Chicano studies and history professor who oversees the Leal Award each year. “His writings deal with the hidden lives of Latinos in Los Angeles and the United States. These are the people who live in the shadows due to their immigration status, and yet are very much a part of our contemporary American society. Tobar’s characters reveal themselves as human beings who need to be accepted and integrated by the rest of us. Tobar is their voice.”