College of Humanities

Professor Denise Sandoval's Community Arts Book Receives PEN Award

December 6, 2013

Denise SandovalImage: Harry Gamboa, Jr.

Chicana/o Studies professor Denise M. Sandoval has received a 2013 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award along with coeditor Luis J. Rodriguez for their book Rushing Waters, Rising Dreams: How the Arts Are Transforming a Community. Published by the nonprofit Sylmar-based Tía Chuca Press in 2012, the book documents 20 years of arts activism in the northeast San Fernando Valley—the second largest community of Mexicans and Central Americans in the United States. It compiles essays, poetry, interviews, photography, and color art reproductions chronicling the impact of communal cultural spaces on neighborhoods and families. It was made possible by a grant from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and donations from individuals.

Sandoval observes that there are many books detailing San Fernando Valley histories, but that they largely focus on the more affluent west valley neighborhoods. She also notes the large number of books documenting Chicano/Latino experiences in the East Los Angeles/Boyle Heights corridor. “[But Rushing Waters, Rising Dreams] is the first book that places the focus on the northeast San Fernando Valley and allows the people of those communities to speak their stories—their truths,” Sandoval says.

Earlier this year Rushing Waters, Rising Dreams received another honor, a bronze Independent Publishers of America award in the multicultural nonfiction category. Sandoval and Rodriguez are delighted at the reception the book is receiving. “We need to keep putting L.A. and the northeast San Fernando Valley on the literary map!” Sandoval exclaims.

Sandoval and Rodriguez will attend the PEN Oakland ceremony to accept the award on December 7 at the Rockridge Branch of the Oakland Public Library. PEN Oakland’s annual awards are judged by panels of fellow writers and aim to honor books not recognized by the mainstream literary community that reflect a “multicultural or marginalized viewpoint and represent the highest standards of literature.”