Photo: Benjamin Alire Sáenz -PEN/Faulkner Winner
Mexican-American author and former priest Benjamin Alire Sáenz is the first Latino to win the prestigious PEN/Faulkner literary award.
Sáenz’ collection of stories beat out over 350 literary submissions to win the $15,000 prize. The PEN/Faulkner was given to the 58-year-old author for his collection of seven stories in “Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club,” published by El Paso-based independent book publisher Cinco Puntos Press.
The collection of stories center around life near the U.S.-Mexico border at a popular bar in Juarez. Border life is something Sáenz is very familiar with having grown up in New Mexico. His first published work “Calendar of Dust” a book of poems won an American Book Award in 1992.
The author will receive the PEN/Faulkner on May 4, 2013 at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. The award was created in 1981 and is considered the largest peer juried prize for writing.
Sáenz currently is the Chair of the University of Texas at El Paso’s Creative Writing Department.