Monday, March 11, 2013

Benjamin Alire Sáenz is a finalist for two important literary awards for “Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club”

Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s melancholy and beautiful new short-story collection (or novel-in-stories, if you prefer), Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club (Cinco Puntos Press), is (not surprisingly) a finalist for two important literary awards.

Before discussing these two nominations, let’s revisit Sáenz’s personal and literary history (taken from his official biography):

Benjamin Alire 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.

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. His most recent book of poetry, The Book of What Remains, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2010.

He is the author of numerous novels, books for children and young adults as well as a previous collection of short stories. His award winning young adult novels are Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood, He Forgot to Say Goodbye, and Last Night I Sang to the Monster. His adult novels include Carry Me Like Water, The House of Forgetting, In Perfect Light, and Names on a Map.


PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction – The 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Judges Walter Kirn, Nelly Rosario, and A.J. Verdelle have announced their list of five finalists for the this year’s PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. The winner will be announced on March 19th, and the 33rd Annual PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Ceremony & Dinner will be held on Saturday, May 4th at 7 p.m. at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Benjamin Alire Sáenz is a finalist for Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club (Cinco Puntos Press). For a complete list of the PEN/Faulkner finalists, visit here.

Lambda Literary Award – Finalists for the Lambda Literary Awards were announced on March 6th by the Lambda Literary Foundation (LLF) in Los Angeles. Books from major mainstream publishers, from academic presses, from both long-established and new LGBT publishers, as well as from emerging publish-on-demand technologies, make up the 687 submissions for the “Lammys.” The finalists were selected from a record number of submissions, and, for the first time, the judges were encouraged to choose more finalists in those categories that drew a large number of submissions.

Now in their twenty-fifth year, the Lambda Literary Awards celebrate achievement in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) writing for books published in 2012. Winners will be announced during a ceremony on Monday evening, June 3rd in New York. Details on the annual after-party location are forthcoming. For more information and to buy tickets, please visit this link.

In the General Gay Fiction category, ten finalists were named including Benjamin Alire Saenz’s Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club (Cinco Puntos Press). For a complete list of finalists, visit here.

I note that Sáenz is also a Lambda Literary Awards finalist in the LGBT Children’s/Young Adult category for his book, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Simon & Schuster/ Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), which has already won the Pura Belpré Author Award, the Stonewall Book Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature, and was a Michael L. Printz Honor Book.

Daniel Olivas

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