Carlos Fuentes is regarded by many as Mexico’s foremost contemporary novelist. Perhaps the most valuable contribution of Fuentes’s writing is that it introduced innovative language and experimental narrative techniques into mainstream Latin American fiction. His concern for affirming a viable Mexican identity is revealed in his allegorical and thematic use of his country’s history and legends, from the myths of the Aztecs to the Mexican Revolution.
Aside from receiving honorary degrees from numerous colleges and universities, such as Columbia College, Harvard University, and Washington University, Fuentes has won many literary awards. These include the Rómulo Gallegos prize (Venezuela) in 1977 for Terra nostra (1975; English translation, 1976), the Alfonso Reyes Prize (Mexico) in 1979 for the body of his work, the National Award for Literature (Mexico) in 1984 for Orquídeas a la luz de la luna (pb. 1982; Orchids in the Moonlight, 1982), the Miguel de Cervantes Prize from the Spanish Ministry of Culture in 1987, and the Rubén Darío Order of Cultural Independence (Nicaragua), and the literary prize of Italo-Latino Americano Institute, both in 1988.
Fuentes received the Capita Maria Medal (1991), the Chilean Order of Merit (1992), the French Legion of Honor (1992), and the Menendez Pelayo International Award from the University of Santander (1992). He was named honorary citizen of Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, and Veracruz (1993) and received the Principe de Asturias Prize (1994). He was a candidate for the Neustadt International Prize for Literature (1996) and received honorary degrees from Bard College, Cambridge University, Columbia College, Chicago State University, Dartmouth College, Essex University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, and Washington University.