Saenz Awarded PEN/Faulkner Prize, First Hispanic Winner

The Latino experience is winning an author major acclaim.

A collection of short stories set along the border between Texas and Mexico has won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

The directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation announced Tuesday that author Benjamin Alire Sáenz will receive $15,000 for Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club. The book was published by Cinco Puntos Press, based in El Paso, Texas, where some of Sáenz's stories take place.

"The borderland – the frontera – gave me words, gave me language, a point of view," Sáenz said Tuesday to El Paso Times.

Earlier this year, the American Library Association cited Sáenz's Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe as the best young adult novel about the Latino cultural experience and the best book about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender experience.

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Previous winners of the PEN/Faulkner award include Philip Roth, E.L. Doctorow and John Updike.

The book is a collection of seven stories brought together by a well-known bar in Juárez, four blocks from the international bridge. The characters "struggle with the impossible ambiguities of borders, whether they be sexual, emotional, national or economic," according to a press release.

According to El Paso Times, Sáenz is the first Hispanic writer to win the award since its inception in 1981.

Sáenz and other finalists will be honored May 4 during the 33rd annual PEN/Faulkner Award Ceremony in Washington, D.C., where he will read from his winning book.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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