This year we will be presenting Denise Chávez with both the Richard Harris Award for her novel The Last of the Menu Girls, and the Book-in-Hand Award for her work with Libros para el Viaje (Books for the Journey).
The Richard Harris Award is funded by a grant from the Harris family. Harris was a founding member of the New Mexico Book Association, author of many books, and a mentor to publishers. The Harris Award is presented annually to a book whose outstanding excellence authorship, editorial preparation, design, and influence, is deemed worthy of high honor and recognition.
The Book-in-Hand Award recognizes exemplary service in getting books into readers' hands. We honor Chávez, whose dedication and generosity has helped put Spanish as well as bilingual books in the hands of refugee, asylum, and migrant families on the U.S./Mexico border.
Chávez’s books include The King and Queen of Comezón, A Taco Testimony: Meditations on Family, Food and Culture, Loving Pedro Infante, Face of An Angel, and a short story collection, The Last of the Menu Girls and a children’s book, La Mujer Que Sabía El Idioma de Los Animales/The Woman Who Knew the Language of the Animals. Chávez has performed her one-woman shows, Novena Narrativas: The Novena Narratives and El Muro/The Wall: A Chorus of Immigrant Women's Voices throughout the U.S.
The King and Queen of Comezón (University of Oklahoma Press, 2014) won the 2015 International Latino Book Award in Fiction and the 2015 New Mexico-Arizona Fiction Award.
Chávez is working on publication of various novels: City of Crosses, about the homeless and dispossessed in her hometown of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Street of Too Many Stories, about the legacy of familial dysfunction in a small neighborhood on the U.S./México border. Chávez is also working on various children's books including The Two Delfina’s, La Hermana Ying y La Hermana Yang, and Chano’s Dream.
Chávez is the owner and bookseller at Casa Camino Real, a Bookstore and Multicultural Art and Community Center, on the Historic Camino Real. Chávez is a founding member of the American Booksellers Diversity, Inclusion, and Equality Committee
Chávez and her husband and fellow bookseller, Franco/Russian/American photographer Daniel Zolinsky, are working on the creation and development of MUSEO DE LA GENTE, a Borderland Resource Center, which will serve to preserve, document and celebrate the story of the borderland community in the Southwestern U.S. and Northern Mexico.
Chávez was an Assistant Professor of English, Chicano Literature and Playwriting at New Mexico State University and taught Acting, Multi-Cultural Theatre and Playwriting in the Theatre Department at the University of Houston. She was also taught Theatre and Creative Writing at the Northern New Mexico Community College.
Chávez is a deeply committed community-based artist who continues to explore the universal in the regional landscape. She continues to offer interactive workshops for writers, dramatists, and actors throughout the U.S. She is a popular Keynote speaker, panel member, and literary judge.
Since May 2018, Chávez has distributed books in Spanish as well as bilingual English/Spanish books to Refugee, Asylum and Migrant families on the U.S./México border in Las Cruces, New Mexico, El Paso, Texas, and Juárez, México in a program called Libros Para El Viaje/Books for the Journey, in collaboration with the American Booksellers Association and with Border Servant Corps in Las Cruces. Thousands of books have been donated by publishers, bookstores, booksellers, writers, artists, agents, filmmakers and hundreds of readers and sponsors.
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