UC Riverside Professor Rachelle Cruz accepted an American Book Award on Sunday, Oct. 28, an honor that the Inland literary community says is a milestone not just for her but also for the region.
Cruz’s poetry collection, “God’s Will for Monsters,” was among 15 winners that the Before Columbus Foundation chose to recognize for “outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community.”
The book centers around a shape-shifting figure from Filipino folklore called an aswang, which Cruz uses to explore intimate topics like secrets, shame and what it means to be a “witch.”
The child of Filipino parents, she strove for a nuanced look at the traditional culture and how Catholic teachings had changed and marginalized it.
Similarly, she hopes her work will reverse misconceptions about the Inland region, which she said has long had excellent writers but isn’t recognized for its talent.