Hunger of Memory: An Autobiography

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Overview

Hunger Of Memory is the story of a Mexican-American Richard Rodriguez, who begins his schooling in Sacramento, California, knowing just 50 words of English and concludes his university studies in the stately quiet of the reading room of the British Museum.

Here is the poignant journey is a "minority student" who pays the cost of his social assimilation and academic success with a painful alienation — from his past, his parents, his culture — ...

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Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez

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Overview

Hunger Of Memory is the story of a Mexican-American Richard Rodriguez, who begins his schooling in Sacramento, California, knowing just 50 words of English and concludes his university studies in the stately quiet of the reading room of the British Museum.

Here is the poignant journey is a "minority student" who pays the cost of his social assimilation and academic success with a painful alienation — from his past, his parents, his culture — and so describes the high price of "making it" in middle class America.

Provocative in its positions on affirmative action and bilingual education, Hunger Of Memory is a powerful political statement, a profound study of the importance of language... and the moving, intimate portrait of a boy struggling to become a man.

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Editorial Reviews

Boston Globe
Arresting...Splendidly written intellectual autobiography.
New York Times Book Review
Superb autobiographical essay... Mr. Rodriguez offers himself as an example if the long labor of change: its costs, about which he is movingly frank, its loneliness, but also its triumph.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553231939
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/1/1983
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(6)

2 Star

(7)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2006

    Excellent perspective, honest, fresh and relevant

    I have no idea why 'Bill, a professor' or some of the other reveiwers think this book should have been imaginative. This is someone's life, an adult looking back at how his educational experiences changed him on the deepest levels, not a sci fi novel. Rodriguez honors me by sharing his private family life with me, as well as his beliefs and his fears. Most refreshing is the candid and honest way in which he discusses his own battle with the cruelty and foolish hypocrisy of affirmative action, and his own feelings of guilt for having taken advantage of being 'socially disadvantaged.' I found fascinating the recurring theme of paradox: once you are educated enough to write or speak about the uneducated lower-classes, you are no longer one of them. He is separate from his family because of his education and where it has taken him, because he has 'grown apart' from his parents, not because he hasn't tried hard enough to stay connected. It is a necessary growth, an unavoidable seaparation. The resentment and shame that first generation children feel toward their under-educated and unassimilated parents is perfectly described. Rodriguez uses many threads to weave with poignancy and relevance the tapestry of his life. The parenthetical asides made me feel as though I was inside his head during the writing of this book, making it even more open and intimate, if possible. An excellent insight into history as it affected one man...Berkley student rioting, affirmative action, bilingualism. Don't pass this one up!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2005

    This book is disappointing.

    Reading this book in high school and another time in college I know this story like the back of my hand. The story really doesn't go anywhere the author remembers how poor he was though his story. The average person has to really read over the story sometimes twice just to understand what the author meant in some sections. The overall story lacks creativity, and the excitement that a wonderful story contains. The book isn¿t an overall easy read that engages a reader¿s imagination. It honestly reads like a college freshman¿s autobiography who¿s trying to sound more intelligent by adding more jargon.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2008

    It's not praticurally captivating, but it is good.... if that makes any sense

    i have to read this for summer reading for school. and like others who have read it the only reason I did was because i was required to. That said, it wasn't a bad book. Many of his ideas were interesting and thought provoking and all, but the book was boring. I can't imagine someone reading this purely for enjoyment. So if you have to read it for school, don't complain too much. You could be forced to read something considerably worse, trust me. Try to read it with an open mind and if all else fails, at least its only a couple hundred pages.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2006

    A must read for teachers

    This book was captivating for me. As a teacher, I often struggle to understand my bilingual, lower-income students. This book has given me great insight into their minds, homes and lives. As a result, I know the types of encouragement to give these often struggling students. Any teacher who works with bilingual kids needs to read this.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2002

    This one will make you think

    I actually read this book for a college course and I have to admit as a hispanic it stired up a lot of different feelings in me .. but mostly anger! This is the type of book that demands a lot of understanding on the readers part. Even though I dont agree with the authors ideas I admire him for being so honest and putting his life in the open knowing that his "people" might not agree. I also feel this autobiography helped me identify my role and position as a hispanic in the United States. I cant wait to read more of his work.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2012

    The most inspirational man in the world This book, Hunger of M


    The most inspirational man in the world
    This book, Hunger of Memory, by Richard Rodriguez is a novel written to inform the reader about the life of this man, Richard Rodriguez. The book discusses his failures, his triumphs, and everything in between.
    Hunger of Memory starts off by talking about Richard Rodriguez’s life as a boy just moving to America. He becomes number one in his class and graduates top of his class. In college, he gets a number of his papers published. After graduating college, Richard Rodriguez becomes a university teacher, as well as an author. Although this part of Richards’ life is great, some areas of his life take a turn for the worse, specifically in his family life.
    Some parts of the book I could not wait to see what happened next, but other parts of the book were so boring I couldn’t get myself to pick the book up. For example, Richard Rodriguez spends an entire chapter talking about his religion. Everyone should have an opinion on what they believe in, and can discuss it freely, but an entire chapter just to explain that he had converted from a Catholic to a Christian seemed a bit lengthy. Although that chapter was very long and boring, when he talks about his actual growing up and learning process it is quite intriguing. I found it very inspiring how this man came to America knowing no more than fifty words of English, and graduated number one in his class, attended a great college, become a college professor, and wrote a book entirely in English.
    In addition to having good and bad parts, this book also has sad and happy parts. When Richard Rodriguez finally builds up enough courage to answer his first question in English class, you can’t help but smile to yourself. The saddest part of the book, and my least favorite part is the ending. I don’t usually get affected by books, but this ending is heart wrenching.
    Overall I think this is a pretty decent book. I enjoyed how inspirational his book was at times. Although this was not the most interesting or exciting book I have ever read, I think it teaches a great lesson, and makes you want to strive to achieve more. I would not consider this book a must read, but if you like stories of people over coming obstacles, then this one is worth giving a shot

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2012

    What Did You Expect Was Going To Happen?

    This book has a very segmented style of writing that is consistent throughout the book, but the author continues to make himself the victim and towards the end not a very likeable character. As you add to your body of knowledge or your worldly experiences the things that you used to do may change, that is life. Richard seems to think that everything should stay the same and that is what makes the book stagnant and where I as the reader find myself yelling at him for wanting everything but having to give up a lot in the meantime. I come from a Hispanic family and while some of the book held truth, it was very hard to find this character sympathetic or likeable really. I am reading this for a class in Cross Cultural Communication and while I am glad that I read the book, seriously what did the author think was going to happen? Things change, things never stay the same unless you live in a buble.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2009

    A book of insperation

    Hunger of Memory<BR/>By Richard Rodriguez<BR/>When you come from a different background and speak s different language <BR/>than the one you speak you feel like a stranger because you don¿t know what there saying. Every time you go out on public you feel like you don¿t belong there, and <BR/>act different to fit with the rest of the people. But when you go back to your house <BR/>you feel relive because you don¿t have to pretend anymore. Your house is like <BR/>your small world because you¿re not afraid of speaking Spanish. Because when you speak Spanish you can express your self like you couldn¿t in English. When you got to <BR/>school you try your best to learn fast, and what ever it takes to become a successful<BR/>person and make your dream come true no matter how hard it is.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2007

    A reviewer

    I had to read this book as a summer reading project and high school and did not find it captivating once. Rodriguez keeps complaining about his loss of culture and has nothing wonderful or interesting that would make me get pulled into the book. Overall, I found this book a failure and wish I could have read something else instead.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2006

    Hunger of Memory...lol

    In reading Hunger of Memory, one learns about the different linguistic sensitivities that characterize the life of a bilingual child. Rodriguez highlights the difference between a public and a private identity, each of which has its own purpose in its own place. By setting up this contrast, Rodriguez is enabled to battle 'the bilingualists,' who say that by using Spanish (or, theoretically, any other home language) in the classroom, students will meet greater success. ........ Rodriguez, however, notes that as a child, the only thing that prevented him from staying in his monolingual cage, ignorant of English aside from 50 words, was the use of English in school. To remove that requirement would be a detriment to the thousands of youths that would be affected. Their public identities would remain undeveloped, and thus public success would remain impossible. They would be doomed like certain characters in Rodriguez's book--the Mexican construction workers, who are paid less than they deserve and are unable to question or challenge el patrón. These Mexicans reflect Rodriguez's own monolingual Mexican uncle: 'The gringos kept him digging all day, doing the dirtiest jobs. And they would pay him next to nothing. Sometimes they promised him one salary and paid him less when they finished.' ........ Rodriguez, then, has come a long way. His only time spent in construction work was out of curiosity. But nevertheless, his labourious family past is not so far off that he has forgotten the lessons learned. Never will Rodriguez agree to bilingual education, because by using only the language of the private family life, one is limiting one's choices in life. It would be very possible, in such a situation, to be forced to live a life like the Mexican construction workers, or his uncle--a hunchback in his twenties. ........ I recommend this book to someone who is extremely curious either about bilingual education or the details of a Mexican-American's life. Oh, and be prepared for a riveting, detailed account on his years as a Catholic schoolboy.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2004

    Original and esoteric but still a must read for everyone!!!

    I lived Richard Rodriguez¿ life--that's how I felt while reading his empathetic essays. This ¿scholarship boy¿ is truly a martyr for writing this novel. Even with anticipated criticism from everyone--including his family-- Rodriguez mans up and writes about ¿private life¿ to ¿un gringos¿. This is a must read for everyone (even those who differ in opinion) since it is an example of the ¿individuality¿ of people who are stereotyped about having only one way of thinking.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2004

    Best book so far

    I have read this book for the project and personal reading but I can't get enough of it. I decided I will be re-reading it all the time because its really good.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2014

    This book was really boring at the beginning and I did not under

    This book was really boring at the beginning and I did not understand it. Not so fun to read.
    Don't recommend it to people who like to read about autobiographies. Doesn't stick to the topic.
    It highly deserves 1 star rating. 

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  • Posted February 16, 2011

    Slow going

    Although Rodriguize's topic may hold strong with some... so far chapter one: Aria, is rather unentertaining

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2007

    Sell Out

    I personally thought this book was boring. This guy took advantage of government programs that were there for minorities and then he asks for them to go away. He is a sell out and a hypocrit.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2007

    hunger for memory was horrible

    i was given this book to read for a summer reading book going into my junior year of high school, from start to finish it failed to captivate me once, i read it simply because i was compelled to do so, a more boring topic could not even be published and i have no idea how this 'author' was given the privilege, for anybody looking for an enjoyable read put down this book immediately

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2006

    Hunger of Memory was very disapointing and not captivating at all

    Hunger of Memory is a very slow read. Rodriguez pulls the reader in at the beginning, but after that the book gets very long winded and repetitive. Rodriguez does a good job getting all his points across, in the sense that by the end of the book, they have been pounded into the readers head. His life could have been interesting if phrased another way. It is surprising that a man who, 'from my first day of school, I was a student of language' (6), can not write this piece in a more captivating way. Rodriguez has good ideas about education and assimilation, coming from someone who truley experienced them. He truley appeals to the readers pathos, in a way that someone who did not experience education as a 'minority' can not do. The two thing I do not like about his points is how education seperated him from his family and how Christianity made a difference in his life. If he wanted to stay close to his family, he would have made an effort. Instead he shyed away from them he fely superiority because he was a scholarship boy. He still regrets how his family is not close by the end of the book and still does nothing about it. If he won't move to change his relationship, then he should stop griping about it. Then he writes about the influences he had as a catholic during his education. I don't like that he includes this because it implies that everyone needs religion in the life in order to do well and go down the right path. Ridriguez has a very good story to show the world and very intersting views, but he writes about them in a tedious manner, making the book hard to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2003

    honest, erudite and human

    Though at times self-absorbed, the author is bright and honest. Very illuminating for those of us who are 'different', and must claim our happiness even if somewhat outside the usual parameters of mainstream America. How refreshing that he has positive things to say about being Catholic!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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