Tuesday, November 1, 2016


This weekend the Texas Book Festival will honor Benjamin Alire Sáenz with the Texas Writer Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to Texas literature. Ben's featured book will be Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club (Cinco Puntos, 2013) which won the Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction that year. 

Lois Kim, the Director of the Texas Book Festival will be presenting him with the Award. Ben will have a public conversation with his friend Bobby Byrd, a fellow poet and co-publisher of Cinco Puntos Press. The event will be at 11:30 AM, Capitol Extension Room E2.036. A book signing will follow at the Main Book Signing Tent (Congress near 10th Street).

More good news: Ben will publish two new books in 2017: The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, a YA novel from Clarion Books, and The Last Cigarette on Earth, a book of poems from Cinco Puntos Press.  

A Short Biography

Novelist, poet, and writer of children's books, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, was named one of the "Fifty Most Inspiring Authors in the World" by Poets & Writers magazine.

His collection of short stories Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club is the winner of the prestigious 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, as well as a Lambda Literary Finalist for Gay Fiction. His novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Simon and Schuster) is an Honor Book for the Printz Award, and the winner of the Pura Belpré and the Stonewall Awards. 

Sáenz was born in 1954 in Old Picacho, a small farming village outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico, forty-two miles north of the U.S. / Mexico border. He was the fourth of seven children and was brought up in a traditional Mexican-American Catholic family. He entered the seminary in 1972, a decision that was as much political as it was religious. After concluding his theological studies at the University of Louvain, he was ordained a Catholic priest. Three and a half years later, he left the priesthood.

At the age of 30, he entered the University of Texas at El Paso. He later received a fellowship at the University of Iowa. In 1988, he received a Wallace E. Stegner Fellowship in poetry from Stanford University. In 1993, he returned to the border to teach in the bilingual MFA program at UTEP. 

He is the author of numerous novels, books for children and young adults. His beloved young adult novel Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood, a staple in many high school curricula, was a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize, a Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults, and winner of the Américas Award. 

His bestselling bilingual children's books include: The Dog who Loved Tortillas, A Gift from Papá Diego, and A Perfect Season for Dreaming

Sáenz is the author of a previous book of poetry, Calendar of Dust, which won an American Book Award. Cinco Puntos published two of his other books of poetry called Elegies in Blue and the now out of print, Dark and Perfect Angels.

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