Rudolfo Anaya’s personal journey to Tortuga began one desert-hot day when, as an adolescent, he and some friends were swimming in irrigation ditches. He dove in, sustaining an injury that put him in the hospital for an arduous period of time.
Tortuga is set in a hospital for crippled children and is based on Anaya’s swimming accident. He explores the significance of pain and suffering in a young boy’s life and the importance of spiritual recovery as well as medical. Tortuga, or Turtle, is the name of the oddly shaped mountain near the hospital, but “Tortuga” also points toward the rigid cast that encases the young hero’s body.
In celebration of the twenty-five years since the first edition of Tortuga was published, Rudolfo Anaya has provided an Afterword to share his memories of those days in the hospital and how they impacted the remainder of his life.