Texas Institute of Letters Winners

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2015 was a standout year for Texas literature, and the Texas Institute of Letters, a collection of Texas-related writers that make up the state’s oldest literary organization, has the nearly impossible job of singling out works for recognition each year. This past weekend, Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, Jan Jarboe Russell, and Mary Helen Specht were named as the big winners of 2015.


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Antonio Ruiz-Camacho took home the Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction for Barefoot Dogs, a collection of linked stories following a wealthy Mexican family forced into exile.

Jan Jarboe Russell’s The Train to Crystal City, which tells the story of a secret FDR-approved American internment camp during WWII, won the Carr P. Collins Award for Best Book of Nonfiction.

Mary Helen Specht’s Migratory Animals, which follows a young scientist torn between love and duty, claimed the Steven Turner Award for Best Work of First Fiction.

And Austin writer Sarah Bird was honored with the Lon Tinkle Award, which goes to a distinguished writer with a career in letters associated with Texas.

Other winners included Don Tate, whose Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton took home the prize for children’s book, Pat Mora’s The Remembering Day/El Dia de los Muertos for children’s picture book, Laurie Ann Guerrero’s A Crown for Gumecindo for best book of poetry, J. Scott Brownlee’s Requiem for Used Ignition Cap for The Orison Poetry Prize, Brian Yansky’s Utopia, Iowa for young adult book, and Andrew J. Torget’s Seeds of Empire, which won the Ramirez Family Award for Most Significant Scholarly Book.

Congratulations to all the winners, and to all the readers: you couldn’t go wrong with a single one of these titles. #ReadTexas!