Helena María Viramontes is the author of The Moths and Other Stories (1985) and Under the Feet of Jesus (1995), a novel. Her most recent novel, Their Dogs Came with Them, (2007), focuses on the dispossessed, the working poor, the homeless, and the undocumented of East Los Angeles, where Viramontes was born and raised. Her work strives to recreate the visceral sense of a world virtually unknown to mainstream letters and to transform readers through relentlessly compassionate storytelling.
In the 1980s, Viramontes became co-coordinator of the Los Angeles Latino Writers Association and literary editor of XhistmeArte Magazine. Later in the decade, Viramontes helped found Southern California Latino Writers and Filmmakers. In collaboration with feminist scholar Maria Herrera Sobek, Viramontes organized three major conferences at UC-Irvine, resulting in two anthologies: Chicana Creativity and Criticism: Charting New Frontiers in American Literature (1988) and Chicana Writes: On Word and Film (1993).
Named a USA Ford Fellow in Literature for 2007 by United States Artists, she has also received the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, a Sundance Institute Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and the Luis Leal Award. A teacher and mentor to countless young writers, Viramontes is currently Professor of Creative Writing in the Department of English at Cornell University.
photo © by Nico Tucci