On November 18 the U.P.-Diliman residence of
Narita Gonzalez and the late N.V.M. Gonzalez was consumed in an electrical
details, please refer to the article in the November
20 Manila Times. We are in the process of collecting materials
to rebuild a library in both their names. In the meantime, what was salvaged from the fire have been painstakingly restored by the University of the Philippines Library. For more information,
please contact nvmgonzalezinc(at)gmail.com. More...
is an affair of letters," N.V.M. Gonzalez once said. A teacher, author,
journalist and essayist, Gonzalez is one of the most widely recognized,
anthologized and closely studied among Filipino writers. His
most notable works include the novels The Winds of April, The Bamboo
Dancers and A Season of Grace, short story collections Children
of the Ash-Covered Loam and The Bread of Salt and Other Stories
and essay collections Work on the Mountain and The Novel of
Justice: Selected Essays. Gonzalez distinctively wrote of the
Filipino life, of the Filipino in the world. Gonzalez is himself a Filipino
in the world, traversing between the United States and the Philippines
and exploring Europe and Asia. The affair of letters Gonzalez
created is more than literature. It is the story of a Filipino in the
is his story.
Nestor Vicente Madali Gonzalez, familiarly known as simply "N.V.M.," was
born on September 8, 1915 in Romblon, Romblon and moved to Mindoro
at the age of five. The son of a school supervisor and a teacher, Gonzalez
helped his father by delivering meat door-to-door. Gonzalez attended
High School from 1927 to 1930, and although he studied at National
in Manila, he never obtained a degree. While in Manila, Gonzalez wrote
for the Philippine Graphic and later edited for the Evening News Magazine
and Manila Chronicle. His first published essay appeared in the Philippine
Graphic and his first poem in Poetry in 1934.
the good of my soul lately I have been reading
Jose Rizal and
as much as I admire Mr. Rizal's political sentiments, I must
say I prefer Gonzalez as a novelist."
-Wallace Stegner, 1950
A Rockefeller Foundation
fellowship, awarded to Gonzalez in 1948, allowed the aspiring
author to travel to Stanford University in Palo Alto, California and
Columbia University in New York City. While at Stanford, Gonzalez attended
and classes from many prominent writers, Wallace Stegner and Katherine
Anne Porter amongst them.
After Gonzalez returned to the Philippines in 1950, he began a long teaching
career, beginning with a position at the University of Santo Tomas. Gonzalez
also taught at the Philippine Women's University, but it was the lengthy
position at the University of the Philippines that gave distinction to
Gonzalez's career - as a teacher at the university for 18 years, Gonzalez
was only one of two people to teach there without holding a degree. Gonzalez
hosted the first University of the Philippines writer's workshop with
a group who would soon form the Ravens. In addition, Gonzalez made his
mark in the writing community as a member of the Board of Advisers of
Likhaan: the University of the Philippines Creative Writing Center, founder
The Diliman Review and as the first president of the Philippine Writers'
Gonzalez continued to teach when he returned to California in the 1960s,
serving as a visiting professor at the University of California at Santa
Barbara; professor emeritus at California State University, Hayward; and
professor at University of California at Los Angeles' Asian American Studies
Center and English department.
Throughout Gonzalez's teaching career, the author produced 14 books and
accumulated many awards along the way. Through these writings, Gonzalez
received many prestigious awards, including repeated Palanca Memorial
Award for Literature awards, the Jose Rizal Pro Patria Award, and the
City of Manila Medal of Honor. In addition, his books became internationally
recognized, and his works have been translated into Chinese, German, Russian
and Bahasa Indonesian.
Gonzalez received an honorary doctorate from the University of the
Philippines in 1987 and became its first international writer in residence
He served as the 1998-1999 Regents Professor at the University of California
at Los Angeles and continued to receive distinctions such as the National
Artist Award for Literature in 1997 and the Centennial Award for Literature
in 1998. In 1990 and 1996, "N.V.M. Gonzalez Days" were celebrated in San
Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively. Despite Gonzalez's travels, he
never gave up his Filipino citizenship. Critics feared that Gonzalez would
someday settle into the Filipino-American genre of literature, but Gonzalez
often pointed out with an all-familiar twinkle in his eye, "I never left
home." True to his word, the home that shaped Gonzalez's days is present
in his writings, from the blossoming of a love story to the culture
reflected in an immigrant experience.
N.V.M. started his career at the age of 19; 65 years later, he was still
creating affairs with letters. He passed away on November 28, 1999, due
to kidney complications. He was 84. N.V.M. Gonzalez is remembered as an
innovative writer, a dedicated and humble worker and an honest witty friend.
He will be dearly missed.