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Pulitzer Prize winner Héctor Tobar speaks for Hispanic Heritage Month


Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Héctor Tobar speaks Sept. 16 in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. Tobar won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for his coverage of the Los Angeles Riots. Alex Deryn

Journalist and author Héctor Tobar spoke at 7 p.m. Monday in the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center as part of IU's Hispanic Heritage Month celebration.

Tobar won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 for his coverage of the Los Angeles riots, has written four books and contributes to the New York Times’ opinion pages. 

His repertoire includes writing for the Los Angeles Times and the New Yorker, as well as writing award-winning novels to earn him a gold medal for best fiction book for his novel “The Barbarian Nurseries” at the 81st Annual California Book Awards. It's an honor other great literary writers, like John Steinbeck, have been given.

“It surprised me that he was such an accomplished author and the event was completely free," Maggie Gilbert, a senior studying media advertising, said. "He has such a unique story and it was eye-opening because not everyone grows up in a bubble like I did.”

In his childhood, he learned English to honor his family and educate himself. He reflected on how public universities offer so much and encouraged the audience to seek out academia.

He often tries to tell his story in Spanish so Spanish speakers are able to feel more connected.

Tobar said with written pieces, and especially with his students’ work, he wants them to make him feel emotion while reading their work.

Journalism carries a special merit for Tobar, who said appealing to pathos and having ample amounts of specificity and details in pieces make for good writing.

“I (feel) right away the power of the printed word,” Tobar said.

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