HOUSTON, TX—Oscar Mancinas’s evocative collection, To Live and Die in El Valle, has been awarded the 2021 Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association. The thirteen thought-provoking stories highlight the struggles of Hispanic and indigenous people in Arizona whose lives are impacted by migration, systemic racism and settler colonialism.
The Border Regional Library Association (BRLA) was founded in 1966 to promote library service and librarianship in the El Paso/Las Cruces/Ciudad Juárez metroplex. More than 100 library professionals from Trans-Pecos Texas, Southern New Mexico and Northern Chihuahua are members of the organization. The group created the Southwest Book Award in 1971 to recognize books about the region.
Vividly depicting working-class communities, Oscar Mancinas creates characters whose lives are shaped by circumstances beyond their control, including migration and discrimination. His characters frequently struggle with a sense of belonging, and their stories eloquently illuminate Hispanic and indigenous experiences in the Southwest.
To Live and Die in El Valle has received excellent reviews:
Booklist said, “Mancinas brings the struggles of Mexican Americans and Mexicans from El Valle (“the valley”) to life so vividly you can practically feel the Arizona heat rising off the page. Universal truths come to light, about loss, identity and what it means to belong.”
Kirkus Reviews said, “In a story collection that crisscrosses the country from California to Massachusetts, El Valle is always the center of each story and each character, like any hometown. The difference is that the residents of El Valle often straddle two worlds. With moments of deep pathos and rough power, these stories will ground you in a vivid desert town and its people.”
Oscar Mancinas is a Rarámuri-Chicanx poet, prose-writer and teacher. He was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona’s Washington-Escobedo neighborhood. He earned a BA in English and Spanish from Colby College and an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Currently, he is a PhD candidate in Transborder Studies at Arizona State University. His debut chapbook of poems, Jaula, was published by Gasher Journal in 2020. He splits his time between Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona.
Arte Público Press is the nation’s largest and most established publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by US Hispanic authors. Its imprint for children and young adults, Piñata Books, is dedicated to the authentic portrayal of the themes, languages, characters and customs of Hispanic culture in the United States. Books published under the imprint serve as a bridge from home to school to support family literacy and elementary school education. Based at the University of Houston, Arte Público Press, Piñata Books and the Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage project provide the most widely recognized and extensive showcase for Hispanic literary arts and creativity.