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Ruiz-Camacho, Russell take top Texas literary prizes

Austin author Antonio Ruiz-Camacho received the top prize — the $6,000 Jesse H. Jones fiction award — at the Texas Institute of Letters literary competition Saturday night for his short story collection, “Barefoot Dogs.”

The debut collection takes a look at recent immigrants who have fled Ruiz-Camacho’s native land of Mexico because of drug violence. And while he deals with some of the lower-class immigrants who are seeking a better economic life, he focuses primarily on wealthy Mexicans who have fled, many of whom he considers to be “basically war refugees.”

The award was presented by Andres Tijerina, president of the Texas Institute of Letters, at the organization’s 80th annual meeting, held this year in Austin.

Jan Jarboe Russell of San Antonio won the $5,000 Carr P. Collins Award for “The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World War II.”

Austin novelist Sarah Bird received the Lon Tinkle Award for a distinguished career in letters associated with Texas. Her latest novel is “Above the East China Sea,” and her “A Love Letter to Texas Women” from the University of Texas Press was released this month.

Other awards at Saturday events went to:

• Andrew Torget III, the Ramirez Family Award for Most Significant Scholarly Book for “Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800-1850.”

• Mary Helen Specht, Steven Turner Award for Best First Published Fiction, for “Migratory Animals.”

• Laurie Ann Guerrero, the Helen C. Smith Award for Best Book of Poetry, for “A Crown for Gumecindo.”

• J. Scott Brownlee, the Bob Bush Memorial Award for First Book of Poetry, for “Requiem for Used Ignition Cap.”

• W.K. Stratton, the Edwin “Bud” Shrake Award for Short Nonfiction, for “My Brother’s Secret,” published in Texas Monthly.

• Brian Van Reet, the Kay Cattarulla Short Story Award, for “The Chaff,” published in Iowa Review.

• Andrea Caillouet, the Fred Whitehead Award for Design of a Trade Book, for “The Luck Archive: Exploring Belief, Superstition, and Tradition,” by Mark Menjivar.

• Marian Schwartz, the Soeurette Diehl Fraser Award for Best Translation of a Book, for “Anna Karenina.”

• Don Tate, the H-E-B/Jean Flynn Children’s Book Award, for “The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton: Poet.”

• Brian Yansky, the H-E-B Young Adults Book Award, for “Utopia, Iowa.”

Pat Mora, the Denton Record-Chronicle Best Children’s Picture Book, for “The Remembering Day / El dia de los muertos.”

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