Raised in Sacramento, California, the son of immigrants from Mexico, essayist and journalist Richard Rodriguez has always grappled fearlessly with the intricacies of cultural identity—the clash and meld of race, religion, class, and language. He is the author of three critically acclaimed books: Hunger of Memory; Days of Obligation; and Brown: The Last Discovery of America. He was an award-winning essayist for PBS’s The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and is a contributing writer and editor for New America Media and contributing editor of Harper’s. He spoke with Sojourners associate editor Julie Polter in April, at Calvin College’s Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Julie Polter: You’re working on a book about the desert origins of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. What led you to this topic?