Biography

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Last Updated on June 14, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 503

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Nestor Vicente Madali Gonzalez, often known simply as N. V. M., was an internationally famed Filipino teacher and writer of novels, short stories, and essays. During his long and distinguished career, he received many awards. In 1997, near the end of his life, he was proclaimed a National Artist of the Philippines.

N. V. M. Gonzalez was born in Romblon, Philippines, on September 8, 1915, but soon after, when Gonzalez was five, his family moved to Wasig in the province of Mindoro. His mother was a teacher and his father a school supervisor who also delivered meat door-to-door, a task with which Gonzalez helped out as a teenager. From 1927 to 1930, Gonzalez lived with relatives in Romblon, and in 1930 he attended Mindoro High School. He then studied at the National University in Manila but did not receive a degree. Later in life, he had a long teaching career at the University of the Philippines, and he was only one of two people ever permitted to teach there without first earning a degree. He also taught at the Philippine Women’s University and the University of Santo Tomas.

In the 1930s, Gonzalez began publishing essays and poetry in the Philippine Graphic and Poetry. He also edited for the Manila Chronicle and the Evening News Magazine. Among his most renowned books are the novels The Winds of April and A Season of Grace, the short story collection Children of the Ash-Covered Loam and Other Stories, and the essay collection Work on the Mountain. In addition to writing and teaching, he served as the first president of the Philippine Writers’ Association, a founding editor of the Diliman Review, an adviser on the board of Likhaan: The University of the Philippines Creative Writing Center, an editor for This Week magazine and the Evening News Saturday Magazine, and a member of the Veronicans, a literary organization.

In 1948, Gonzalez received a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship that enabled him to attend Columbia University and Stanford University, where he studied writing under famous authors such as Katherine Anne Porter and Wallace Stegner. In the 1960s, he returned to the United States and taught at numerous universities, including the University of Washington; the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of California, Santa Barbara; the University of California, Berkeley; and California State University, Hayward. He retired from California State University, Hayward, in 1982 as a professor emeritus.

Gonzalez’s books have been published in English, Filipino, Russian, Chinese, Indonesian, and German. The many awards he received included an honorary doctorate (Doctor of Humane Letters) from the University of the Philippines in 1987, the National Artist Award for Literature in 1997, and the Centennial Award for Literature in 1998. In addition, two different days have been officially dedicated to Gonzalez in the United States: Professor N. V. M. Gonzalez Day in San Francisco and N. V. M. Gonzalez Day in Los Angeles.

N. V. M. Gonzalez died of kidney problems on November 28, 1999, when he was eighty-four years old. Because he was a National Artist of the Philippines, he received a state funeral.

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