John Rechy

"One of the few original American writers of the last century." - Gore Vidal

JOHN RECHY is the recipient of two coveted Lifetime Achievement Awards: PEN-USA-West’s 1997 Lifetime Achievement Award and The Publishing Triangle’s William Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement. In September 2000, a CD-Rom of his life and works--"Memories and Desire: The Worlds of John Rechy" (produced through the Annenberg Center at the University of Southern California)--debuted at the Museum of Modern Art in Los Angeles to an overflow crowd. Last August, Rechy's eagerly awaited novel The Coming of the Night was published by Grove/Atlantic and appeared as # 2 on the Los Angeles Time's Bestseller List. His 12th novel marks the author's return to some of the scenes and themes of his now-classic first novel, City of Night. The paperback edition was released in September 2000.

Greeted with controversy when they first appeared, Rechy's books have in recent years been singled out for major prominence. This year City of Night was named as one of the 25 all time "best gay novels" by the Publishing Triangle in New York. His The Sexual Outlaw: A Documentary was included by the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review as among the 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of the century. In a recent issue of the Los Angeles Times Book Review devoted to "L.A. Literature," Rechy was repeatedly named by other writers, including Critic and Author Mike Davis (City of Quartz), as among the five most important writers to have written about Southern California.

Rechy is the first novelist to receive PEN-USA-West's prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. The previous winners are Billy Wilder, Neil Simon, and Betty Friedan. In informing Rechy of the honor, Sherrill Britton, Executive Director of PEN-West wrote: "For more than three decades your highly original and exceptionally honest work has represented the very ideals that PEN stands for--literary distinction and a stand against censorship and cultural tyranny."

Presenting the PEN Award to Rechy, Author and Washington Post Book Critic Carolyn See described Rechy's voice as "fresh, beautiful, totally courageous-and totally cool, passionate . . . twisting and pulling at the forms and contours of the American language ... a prose revolution. His individual vision is unique, perfect, loving and strong... [He uses] his talent to illuminate the lives of the scorned and the ignored-women, the poor, the crazy, and the sad ... He speaks for those who can't speak for themselves. . . [He] has always been the steadfast champion of the disregarded, no matter their gender or station in life."

In April, 1999, Rechy received his second Lifetime Achievement Award, the William Whitehead Lifetime Achievement Award from The Publishing Triangle, at the New School in New York. The announcement of the award quoted Edmund White's description of Rechy as "one of the most heroic figures of contemporary American life" and "a touchstone of moral integrity and artistic innovation."

In his introduction of Rechy at the presentation, Author and Critic Michael Bronski said, "[He] super-radically and forever altered how mainstream American. culture wrote about, saw, experienced, and conceptualized homosexuality... All of [his] novels are vital to both gay and American literature ... What [he] has given for more than 30 years is a wonderful and terrifying gift. . a vision of a complicated, complex, and wonderful world... He has given us life and literature." And Critic and Author Jameson Currier wrote in the April 2, 1999 "New York Blade News," "Perhaps more than any other American author in the 20th century, his writings have helped shape the sexual consciousness of several generations of gay men."

The CD Rom of Rechy's life marks the first time that a writer's life and works have been so explored. After a press preview of it, Los Angeles Times Film critic Kevin Thomas wrote: "It interweaves three parts, 'Memories, Bodies and Cruising,’ which bring alive visually Rechy's reflections upon his complex, impassioned life as a gay icon."

Rechy's first novel, City of Night, was an international bestseller, and is now taught in contemporary-literature courses throughout the country, along with others of his books. His The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez is required reading in many Chicano Literature courses. His work has been translated into approximately 20 languages. His second novel, Numbers, was also a national bestseller, as was his nonfiction documentary, The Sexual Outlaw. In addition, he has written, This Day's Death, The Vampires, The Fourth Angel, Rushes, Bodies and Souls, Marilyn's Daughter , and Our Ladv of Babylon.

His play Tigers Wild, directed by Michael Ewing and starring Frank Whaley, was performed Off-Broadway at Playhouse 91 in the 1986-87 season. Produced in Los Angeles as The Fourth Angel, it starred Sarah Jessica Parker. His one-act play, Momma As She Became-But Not As She Was, is performed throughout the country and Europe, and has been widely anthologized.

He has twice been nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Awards Body of Work designation. He is a National Endowment for the Arts fellow. He has received Phi Kappa Phi and Longview Foundation awards for his fiction.

He has lectured at Harvard, Yale, Duke, UCLA, USC, Occidental College, University of Northern Illinois, among other academic institutions. He was the keynote speaker at the 1999 Writers' Conference at UCLA and at the 1990 Out/Write National Writers Conference at San Francisco. He has been a key participant at numerous other literary conferences, including the 1999 Los Angeles Times Book Festival, the Guadalajara International Book Fair, Miami Book Fair, and New Orleans Literary Festival.

He has written essays for The Nation, Los Angeles Times Books, Washington Post Book World, The Saturday Review, New York Times Book Review, San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Dallas Morning News, London Magazine, Evergreen Review, New York Magazine, The Advocate, Mother Jones, Premiere, and many other national publications.

Of Mexican-Scottish descent, he makes his home in Los Angeles, California, where he teaches literature and film courses, for writers, in the graduate division of the University of Southern California.

City of Night | Numbers | This Day's Death | The Vampires | The Fourth Angel | The Sexual Outlaw Rushes | Bodies and Souls
Marilyn's Daughter | The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez | Our Lady of Babylon | The Coming of the Night
The Life and Adventures of Lyle Clemens | Beneath the Skin
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