Denise Chavez

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Denise Chávez
Denise Chávez Mesilla 2010.jpg
Denise Chávez, 2010
Born August 15, 1948 (age 69)
Las Cruces, New Mexico, US
Occupation Writer
Nationality American
Genre Fiction, nonfiction, plays

Denise Elia Chávez (born August 15, 1948) is an American author, playwright, and stage director.

Personal life[edit]

She was born to a Mexican American family in Las Cruces, New Mexico, United States.


Chávez graduated from Madonna High School in Mesilla, she received her Bachelor's from New Mexico State University and master's degrees in Theatre from Trinity University whose program was housed at the Dallas Theatre Center. While in college, she began writing dramatic works. Later she entered the MFA program at the University of New Mexico (UNM) and earned a degree in Creative Writing under the direction of mentors Rudolfo Anaya and Tony Hillerman.[1]


In 1986, she published her first collection of short stories, The Last of the Menu Girls, she has received various awards, including the American Book Award, the Premio Aztlán Literary Prize, the Mesilla Valley Author of the Year Award, and the 2003 Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature.[2] Chávez taught at New Mexico State University for various years, eventually moving on to create The Border Book Festival in her hometown of Las Cruces. Currently she is developing, along with her husband, Daniel Zolinsky, a Borderland Art and Resource center, Museo de La Gente/Museum of the people, archiving the history and story of her borderland community.



2016 Paul Ré Peace Prize Winners Selected for Outstanding Peace Promotion Activities, University of New Mexico Foundation, May 26, 2016


  • The Last of the Menu Girls, Arte Publico Press, 1986
  • Face of An Angel, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1994
  • Loving Pedro Infante, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2001
  • A Taco Testimony: Meditations on Family, Food and Culture, Rio Nuevo 2006
  • The King and Queen of Comezón, University of Oklahoma Press, 2014


Novitiates, 1971

Other works include The Woman Who Knew the Language of Animals (1992), and numerous plays and works for which she served as editor.


  1. ^ Ikas, Karen Rosa (2002). "Denise Chávez: Novelist, Playwright, and Actress". Chicana ways: conversations with ten Chicana writers. Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press. pp. 46–65. ISBN 978-0-87417-493-9. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  2. ^ "Hispanic Heritage Awards for Literature". Hispanic Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 11 January 2011. 
  3. ^ Farah, Cynthia (1988). Literature and Landscape: Writers of the Southwest. El Paso, Texas: Texas Western Press. p. 110. ISBN 0874042062. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Quintana, Alvina E. (1995). Home girls : Chicana literary voices. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. ISBN 9781566393720. 

External links[edit]