Happy Birthday Jesús chronicles the creation of a monster: Jesús Olivas, a Mexican American boy raised by his grandmother in northern California. In a society where survival of the fittest is the key, young Jesús Olivas’ shyness and sensitivity become a malleable and vulnerable disadvantage.
Transformed into the perfect victim by his grandmother, a religious fanatic, and the teachings of his parish priest, Jesús is progessively abused and brutalized. At eighteen, he marks his coming of age with the savage rape of a prostitute, the only person who loved him, and an attack that maims the parish priest he both hated and feared. Jesús is sentenced to thirty years behind prison walls in what becomes a labyrinth of unending horrors.
Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage
University of Houston
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Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Project is a national project to locate, identify, preserve and make accessible the literary contributions of U.S. Hispanics from colonial times through 1960 in what today comprises the fifty states of the United States.
After college, RONALD RUIZ went to law school, “for all the wrong reasons,” as he now says. In 1975, after ten years of practicing criminal defense law, Ruiz returned to writing and began working on his critically acclaimed first novel, Happy Birthday Jesús, (Arte Público Press, 1994). His second novel, Giuseppe Rocco (Arte Público Press, 1998), is the recipient of the national literary prize, the 1998 Premio Aztlán. A graduate of the University of San Francisco Law School, Ruiz is a former prosecutor for the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office in Oakland, California. Ruiz currently practices criminal defense law in northern California.
Learn more at ronaldlruiz.com.