Special Collections

Texas Institute of Letters Award Winners

Description: Awards given for literary merit by the Texas Institute of Letters. More books will be added soon. #TIL #award


Showing 1 through 22 of 22 results
 
 

Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky

by David Bowles

A Kirkus Reviews Best YA Book of 2018 2018 Texas Institute of Letters Award for Best Young Adult Book

The stories in Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky trace the history of the world from its beginnings in the dreams of the dual god, Ometeotl, to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in Mexico and the fall of the great city Tenochtitlan. In the course of that history we learn about the Creator Twins―Feathered Serpent and Dark Heart of Sky―and how they built the world on a leviathan's back; of the shape-shifting nahualli; and the aluxes, elfish beings known to help out the occasional wanderer. And finally, we read Aztec tales about the arrival of the blonde strangers from across the sea, the strangers who seek to upend the rule of Moteuczoma and destroy the very stories we are reading.

David Bowles stitches together the fragmented mythology of pre-Colombian Mexico into an exciting, unified narrative in the tradition of William Buck's Ramayana, Robert Fagles's Iliad, and Neil Gaiman's Norse Myths. Readers of Norse and Greek mythologies will delight in this rich retelling of stories less explored.

Date Added: 07/29/2019


Year: 2018

Award: Texas Institute of Letters Award for Best Young Adult Book

What Do You Do With a Voice Like That

by Chris Barton

Barbara Jordan’s inspirational story from school to the House of Representatives to becoming a much loved teacher is told in this book.

Date Added: 10/08/2019


Year: 2018

Award: Texas Institute of Letters Award for Best Picture Book

Ohio

by Stephen Markley

Best Books of Summer 2018 Selection * Vulture * Time * New York Post * The Millions * The debut of a major talent; a lyrical and emotional novel set in an archetypal small town in northeastern Ohio—a region ravaged by the Great Recession, an opioid crisis, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—depicting one feverish, fateful summer night in 2013 when four former classmates converge on their hometown, each with a mission, all haunted by the ghosts of their shared histories.Since the turn of the century, a generation has come of age knowing only war, recession, political gridlock, racial hostility, and a simmering fear of environmental calamity. In the country’s forgotten pockets, where industry long ago fled, where foreclosures, Walmarts, and opiates riddle the land, death rates for rural whites have skyrocketed, fueled by suicide, addiction and a rampant sense of marginalization and disillusionment. This is the world the characters in Stephen Markley’s brilliant debut novel, Ohio, inherit. This is New Canaan. On one fateful summer night in 2013, four former classmates converge on the rust belt town where they grew up, each of them with a mission, all of them haunted by regrets, secrets, lost loves. There’s Bill Ashcraft, an alcoholic, drug-abusing activist, whose fruitless ambitions have taken him from Cambodia to Zuccotti Park to New Orleans, and now back to “The Cane” with a mysterious package strapped to the underside of his truck; Stacey Moore, a doctoral candidate reluctantly confronting the mother of her former lover; Dan Eaton, a shy veteran of three tours in Iraq, home for a dinner date with the high school sweetheart he’s tried to forget; and the beautiful, fragile Tina Ross, whose rendezvous with the captain of the football team triggers the novel’s shocking climax. At once a murder mystery and a social critique, Ohio ingeniously captures the fractured zeitgeist of a nation through the viewfinder of an embattled Midwestern town and offers a prescient vision for America at the dawn of a turbulent new age.

Date Added: 07/10/2019


Year: 2018

Award: Sergio Troncoso Award for Best Work of First Fiction

God's Library

by Brent Nongbri

A provocative book from a highly original scholar, challenging much of what we know about early Christian manuscripts In this bold and groundbreaking book, Brent Nongbri provides an up-to-date introduction to the major collections of early Christian manuscripts and demonstrates that much of what we thought we knew about these books and fragments is mistaken. While biblical scholars have expended much effort in their study of the texts contained within our earliest Christian manuscripts, there has been a surprising lack of interest in thinking about these books as material objects with individual, unique histories. We have too often ignored the ways that the antiquities market obscures our knowledge of the origins of these manuscripts. Through painstaking archival research and detailed studies of our most important collections of early Christian manuscripts, Nongbri vividly shows how the earliest Christian books are more than just carriers of texts or samples of handwriting. They are three-dimensional archaeological artifacts with fascinating stories to tell, if we’re willing to listen.

Date Added: 07/10/2019


Year: 2018

Award: Ramirez Family Award

Girldom

by Megan Peak

Megan Peak's debut collection Girldom chronicles coming of age as a woman: the violence of discovery, the evolution of sexuality, and the demanding yet necessary acts of self-preservation and resistance. Amid landscapes of wasps and nettle, cold moons and icy rivers, daughters navigate trauma and desire, sisters bear witness to each other s trajectories, and girls experience worlds of both rage and tenderness. There is an impounded beauty in Girldom, the beauty of a healing wound. Compressed yet explosive, these poems shake like fists and vibrate with the seeking of voice. "I was a girl before I was anything else," the poet writes. In the midst of the #MeToo movement, Peak's book is timely and timeless in its confrontation of the constraints and concerns bound up in being a girl.

Date Added: 07/29/2019


Year: 2018

Award: John A. Robertson Award

Everyone Knows You Go Home

by Natallia Sylvester

An International Latino Book Award winner.

“Everyone Knows You Go Home is prescient, tackling issues of family division, the arduous journey of crossing from one country into the next, and the sacrifices we make in exchange for a better future.” —Houston Chronicle

The first time Isabel meets her father-in-law, Omar, he’s already dead—an apparition appearing uninvited on her wedding day. Her husband, Martin, still unforgiving for having been abandoned by his father years ago, confesses that he never knew the old man had died. So Omar asks Isabel for the impossible: persuade Omar’s family—especially his wife, Elda—to let him redeem himself.

Isabel and Martin settle into married life in a Texas border town, and Omar returns each year on the celebratory Day of the Dead. Every year Isabel listens, but to the aggrieved Martin and Elda, Omar’s spirit remains invisible. Through his visits, Isabel gains insight into not just the truth about his disappearance and her husband’s childhood but also the ways grief can eat away at love. When Martin’s teenage nephew crosses the Mexican border and takes refuge in Isabel and Martin’s home, questions about past and future homes, borders, and belonging arise that may finally lead to forgiveness—and alter all their lives forever.

Date Added: 07/29/2019


Year: 2018

Award: Jesse H. Jones Award

Rush Sins of the Younger Sons

by Jan Reid

Luke Burgoa is an ex-Marine on a solitary covert mission to infiltrate the Basque separatist organization ETA in Spain and help bring down its military commander, Peru Madariaga. Luke hails from a Basque ancestry that came with the Spanish empire to Cuba, Argentina, Mexico, and, seventy-five years ago, to a Texas ranch. Neighbors consider the Burgoas Mexican immigrants and exiles of that nation’s revolution, but the matriarch of the family speaks the ancient language Euskera and honors traditions of the old country. Luke’s orders are to sell guns to the ETA and lure Peru into a trap. Instead he falls in love with Peru’s estranged wife, Ysolina, who lives in Paris and pursues a doctorate about an Inquisition-driven witchcraft frenzy in her native land. From the day they cross the border into the Basque Pyrenees, their love affair on the run conveys the beauty, sensuality, exoticism, and violence of an ancient homeland cut in two by Spain and France. Their trajectory puts Luke, Ysolina, and Peru on a collision course with each other and the famed American architect Frank Gehry, whose construction of a Guggenheim art museum seeks to transform the Basque city of Bilbao, a decrepit industrial backwater haunted by the Spanish Civil War—and a hotbed of ETA extremism. Ranging from the Amazon rain forest to a deadly prison in Madrid, Sins of the Younger Sons is a love story exposed to dire risk at every turn.

Date Added: 07/29/2019


Year: 2018

Award: Jesse H. Jones Award

They Call Me Guero

by David Bowles

Twelve-year-old Guero, a red-headed, freckled Mexican American border kid, discovers the joy of writing poetry, thanks to his seventh grade English teacher.

Date Added: 08/26/2019


Year: 2018

Award: Jean Flynn Award for Best Middle Grade Book

The Parker Inheritance

by Varian Johnson

When Candice finds a letter in an old attic in Lambert, South Carolina, she isn't sure she should read it. It's addressed to her grandmother, who left the town in shame. But the letter describes a young woman. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding the letter-writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle.

So with the help of Brandon Jones, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert's history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter's promise before the answers slip into the past yet again?

Date Added: 07/10/2019


Year: 2018

Award: Jean Flynn Award for Best Middle Grade Book

Registers of Illuminated Villages

by Tarfia Faizullah

One poem steps down the page like a Slinky; another poem responds to makeup homework completed in the summer of a childhood accident; other poems punctuate the collection with dark meditations on dissociation, discipline, defiance, and destiny; and the near-title poem, "Register of Eliminated Villages," suggests illuminated texts, one a Qur'an in which the speaker's name might be found, and the other a register of 397 villages destroyed in northern Iraq.

Date Added: 08/01/2019


Year: 2018

Award: Helen C Smith Memorial Award

Beautiful Country Burn Again

by Ben Fountain

In a sweeping work of reportage set over the course of 2016, New York Times bestselling author Ben Fountain recounts a surreal year of politics and an exploration of the third American existential crisis

Twice before in its history, the United States has been faced with a crisis so severe it was forced to reinvent itself in order to survive: first, the struggle over slavery, culminating in the Civil War, and the second, the Great Depression, which led to President Roosevelt’s New Deal and the establishment of America as a social-democratic state. In a sequence of essays that excavate the past while laying bare the political upheaval of 2016, Ben Fountain argues that the United States may be facing a third existential crisis, one that will require a “burning” of the old order as America attempts to remake itself.

Beautiful Country Burn Again narrates a shocking year in American politics, moving from the early days of the Iowa Caucus to the crystalizing moments of the Democratic and Republican national conventions, and culminating in the aftershocks of the weeks following election night. Along the way, Fountain probes deeply into history, illuminating the forces and watershed moments of the past that mirror and precipitated the present, from the hollowed-out notion of the American Dream, to Richard Nixon’s southern strategy, to our weaponized new conception of American exceptionalism, to the cult of celebrity that gave rise to Donald Trump.In an urgent and deeply incisive voice, Ben Fountain has fused history and the present day to paint a startling portrait of the state of our nation. Beautiful Country Burn Again is a searing indictment of how we came to this point, and where we may be headed.

Date Added: 07/10/2019


Year: 2018

Award: Carr P. Collins Award for Best Book of Nonfiction

Disappeared

by Francisco X. Stork

Four Months Ago

Sara Zapata's best friend disappeared, kidnapped by the web of criminals who terrorize Juarez.

Four Hours Ago

Sara received a death threat - and with it, a clue to the place where her friend is locked away.

Four Weeks Ago

Emiliano Zapata fell in love with Perla Rubi, who will never be his so long as he's poor.

Four Minutes Ago

Emiliano got the chance to make more money than he ever dreamed - just by joining the web.

In the next four days, Sara and Emiliano will each face impossible choices, between life and justice, friends and family, truth and love.

But when the web closes in on Sara, only one path remains for the siblings: the way across the desert to the United States.

2018 Walter Honors Book (Teen Category)

Date Added: 07/10/2019


Year: 2017

Award: Texas Institute of Letters Award for Best Young Adult Book

All Around Us

by Xelena Gonzalez

Grandpa says circles are all around us. He points to the rainbow that rises high in the sky after a thundercloud has come. "Can you see? That's only half of the circle. That rest of it is down below, in the earth." He and his granddaughter meditate on gardens and seeds, on circles seen and unseen, inside and outside us, on where our bodies come from and where they return to. They share and create family traditions in this stunning exploration of the cycles of life and nature.

Date Added: 10/07/2019


Year: 2017

Award: Texas Institute of Letters Award for Best Picture Book

Chasing the King of Hearts

by Hanna Krall

Winner of the 2018 PEN Translation Prize

One of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2017

This canonical work of Polish reportage is a terse, unexpected human lesson born of an occupation-era love story. Based on a true story, the raw interplay of history and fictionalization spans the Warsaw Ghetto, the war-torn countryside, and the nightmare of Auschwitz.

This is the book’s first US publication.

Hanna Krall was born in 1935 in Poland and survived the Holocaust by hiding in a cupboard. She has received numerous Polish and international awards, such as the Polish PEN Club Prize and the German Wurth Preis for European Literature 2012, and has been translated into seventeen languages.

Date Added: 07/29/2019


Year: 2017

Award: Soeurette Diehl Fraser Award

The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead

by Chanelle Benz

A stunningly original debut collection, The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead is about lives across history marked by violence and longing. In ten stories of impressive range, Chanelle Benz displays a staggering command of craft as she crisscrosses through time and space to create a complex mosaic of humanity.In “The Diplomat’s Daughter,” a woman disappears and resurfaces across the world as a deadly force of nature with many names. “West of the Known” tells of a brother and sister who turn outlaw in a wild and brutal landscape. “James III” lays bare the struggle of a young Philadelphia boy who must contend with the contradictions of privilege, violence, and the sway of an incarcerated father. In “That We May Be All One Sheepefolde,” a sixteenth-century English monk suffers the dissolution of his monastery and the loss of all that he held sacred.The characters in Benz’s wildly imaginative collection are as varied as any in recent literature, subverting boundaries of race, gender, and class, but they share a thirst for adventure that sends them rushing toward moral crossroads, becoming victims and perpetrators along the way. Riveting, visceral, and heartbreaking, Benz’s stories of identity, abandonment, and fierce love come together in a daring, arresting vision. Benz emerges on the scene as an indomitable talent and a brilliant new literary force.

Date Added: 07/10/2019


Year: 2017

Award: Sergio Troncoso Award for Best Work of First Fiction

Tejano Tiger

by Jerry Thompson

It was under the Confederacy in the disputed Texas-Mexico borderlands that Santos Benavides reached the pinnacle of his military career as the highest-ranking Tejano in the entire Confederate army. In the decades that followed the Civil War, he became an esteemed political leader, highly respected on both sides of the border. This is the first scholarly study of this important historical figure.

Date Added: 07/29/2019


Year: 2017

Award: John A. Robertson Award

Beast Meridian

by Vanessa Villarreal

BEAST MERIDIAN narrates the first- generation Mexican American girl, tracking the experiences of cultural displacement, the inheritance of generational trauma, sexist and racist violence, sexual assault, economic struggle, and institutional racism and sexism that disproportionately punishes brown girls in crisis.

Narrated by a speaker in mourning marked as an at- risk juvenile, psychologically troubled, an offender, expelled and sent to alternative school for adolescents with behavioral issues, and eventually, a psychiatric hospital, it survives the school to prison pipeline, the immigrant working class condition, grueling low- pay service jobs, conservative classism against Latinxs in Texas, queerness, assimilation, and life wrapped up in frivolous citations, fines, and penalties. The traumatic catalyst for the long line of trouble begins with the death of a beloved young grandmother from preventable cervical cancer—another violence of systemic racism and sexism that prevents regular reproductive and sexual health care to poor immigrant communities—and the subsequent deaths of other immigrant family members who are mourned in the dissociative states amidst the depressive trauma that opens the book.

The dissociative states that mark the middle—a surreal kind of shadowland where the narrator encounters her animal self and ancestors imagined as animals faces brutal surreal challenges on the way back to life beyond trauma—is a kind of mictlan, reimagined as a state of constant mourning that challenges American notions of "healing" from trauma, and rather acknowledges sadness, mourning, and memory as a necessary state of constant awareness to forge a "way back" toward a broader healing of earth, time, body, history.

Date Added: 08/19/2019


Year: 2017

Award: John A Robertson Award

Revenge of the Star Survivors

by Michael Merschel

Middle school meets the Dark Side in this painfully funny survival story of social misfit Clark Sherman.

When Clark crash-lands on the inhospitable planet of Festus Middle School, he soon learns the natives don’t take kindly to newcomers . . . particularly ones who practice Jedi mind tricks and follow nerdy TV shows like Star Survivors.

As he faces a conspiring group of violent bullies, browbeaten teachers and a fiendish principal, Clark knows he’ll be lucky just to survive eighth grade. Then, hope appears on the horizon: there is Les, the enigmatic boy who seems to disappear at will; Ricki, a fellow Star Survivors fan; and the independent-minded librarian, Ms. Beacon.

When Clark and his newfound allies are imperiled, he gathers his courage and the consequences of his actions ripple through the galaxy in life-altering ways.

Date Added: 07/10/2019


Year: 2017

Award: Jean Flynn Award for Best Middle Grade Book

For Want of Water

by Gregory Pardlo and Sasha Pimentel

Searing verses set on the Mexican border about war and addiction, love and sexual violence, grief and loss, from an American Book Award–winning author. Selected by Gregory Pardlo as winner of the National Poetry Series. El Paso is one of the safest cities in the United States, while across the river, Ciudad Juárez suffers a history of femicides and a horrific drug war. Witnessing this, a Filipina’s life unravels as she tries to love an addict, the murders growing just a city—but the breadth of a country—away. This collection weaves the personal with recent history, the domestic with the tragic, asking how much “a body will hold,” reaching from the border to the poet’s own Philippines. These poems thirst in the desert, want for water, searching the brutal and tender territories between bodies, families, and nations.

Date Added: 07/17/2019


Year: 2017

Award: Helen C. Smith Memorial Award

The Nueces River

by Margie Crisp

First appearing on early Spanish maps as the Río Escondido, or hidden river, and later named Río de las Nueces after the abundant pecan trees along its banks, the Nueces today is a stream of seeming contradictions: a river that runs above and below ground; a geographic reminder of a history both noble and egregious; and a spring-fed stream transformed into a salty, steep-sided channel.

From its fresh, clear headwaters on the Edwards Plateau, Margie Crisp and William B. Montgomery follow the river through the mesquite and prickly pear of the South Texas Plains, to the river’s end in Nueces and Corpus Christi Bays on the Gulf of Mexico. With vivid prose and paintings, they record their travels as they explore the length of the river on foot, kayak, and fishing boat, ultimately weaving a vivid portrait of today’s Nueces. Capturing the river’s subtle beauty, abundant wildlife, diverse culture, and unique history of exploration, conflict, and settlement, they reveal the untold story of this enigmatic river with passion, humor, and reverence.

Date Added: 07/29/2019


Year: 2017

Award: Fred Whitehead Award

Texas Blood

by Roger D. Hodge

In the tradition of Ian Frazier's Great Plains, and as vivid as the work of Cormac McCarthy, an intoxicating, singularly illuminating history of the Texas borderlands from their settlement through seven generations of Roger D. Hodge's ranching family. What brought the author's family to Texas? What is it about Texas that for centuries has exerted a powerful allure for adventurers and scoundrels, dreamers and desperate souls, outlaws and outliers? In search of answers, Hodge travels across his home state--which he loves and hates in shifting measure--tracing the wanderings of his ancestors into forgotten histories along vanished roads. Here is an unsentimental, keenly insightful attempt to grapple with all that makes Texas so magical, punishing, and polarizing. Here is a spellbindingly evocative portrait of the borderlands--with its brutal history of colonization, conquest, and genocide; where stories of death and drugs and desperation play out daily. And here is a contemplation of what it means that the ranching industry that has sustained families like Hodge's for almost two centuries is quickly fading away, taking with it a part of our larger, deep-rooted cultural inheritance. A wholly original fusion of memoir and history--as piercing as it is elegiac--Texas Blood is a triumph.

Date Added: 07/10/2019


Year: 2017

Award: Carr P. Collins Award for Best Book of Nonfiction

Anna Karenina

by Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy produced many drafts of Anna Karenina. Crafting and recrafting each sentence with careful intent, he was anything but casual in his use of language. His project, translator Marian Schwartz observes, "was to bend language to his will, as an instrument of his aesthetic and moral convictions.” In her magnificent new translation, Schwartz embraces Tolstoy’s unusual style-she is the first English language translator ever to do so. Previous translations have departed from Tolstoy’s original, "correcting” supposed mistakes and infelicities. But Schwartz uses repetition where Tolstoy does, wields a judicious cliché when he does, and strips down descriptive passages as he does, re-creating his style in English with imagination and skill. Tolstoy’s romantic Anna, long-suffering Karenin, dashing Vronsky, and dozens of their family members, friends, and neighbors are among the most vivid characters in world literature. In the thought-provoking Introduction to this volume, Gary Saul Morson provides unusual insights into these characters, exploring what they reveal about Tolstoy’s radical conclusions on romantic love, intellectual dishonesty, the nature of happiness, the course of true evil, and more. For readers at every stage-from students first encountering Anna to literary professionals revisiting the novel-this volume will stand as the English reader’s clear first choice.

Date Added: 07/10/2019


Year: 2015

Award: Soeurette Diehl Fraser Award for Best Translation of a Book


Showing 1 through 22 of 22 results