2013 - 2014 Fellows

Ben Fountain
Antonio Ruiz-Camacho

Ben Fountain
Photo by Thome Anderson

Antonio Ruiz-Camacho
Photo by Robert Dawson

Ben Fountain and Antonio Ruiz-Camacho have been selected to receive the 2013 - 2014 Dobie Paisano Writing Fellowships sponsored by the Graduate School at The University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Institute of Letters.  The fellowships allow writers to spend four to six months at the Paisano Ranch, J. Frank Dobie’s former retreat west of Austin, and now owned and maintained by The University of Texas at Austin.  The Dobie Paisano Fellowship Program provides solitude, time and a comfortable place for Texas writers or writers who have written significantly about Texas.

Ben Fountain is the recipient of the Ralph A. Johnston Memorial Fellowship.   Ben was born in Chapel Hill, N.C., and grew up in the tobacco country of eastern North Carolina.  He graduated with highest honors in English from UNC-Chapel and with high honors from Duke University School of Law.  He was an attorney in private practice specializing in real estate finance for five years before beginning to write fiction full time.

He is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2012), which received the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for Fiction, the Jesse Jones Award for Fiction given by the Texas Institute of Letters, the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Fiction, the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Award, and the PEN-New England Cerulli Award.  In addition, Billy Lynn was a finalist for the National Book Award, as well as for the U.K. National Book Award in the International Author of the Year category.  Billy Lynn is currently being adapted for film by the Ink Factory production company, with Simon Beaufoy, who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for “Slumdog Millionaire,” as screenwriter.

Fountain’s short story collection Brief Encounters with Che Guevara (2006) received the  PEN/Hemingway Award, the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize for Fiction, and a Whiting Writer’s Award.  Other honors for Fountain’s fiction include two Pushcart Prizes, an O.Henry Award, the McGinnis-Ritchie Prize for Fiction, and inclusion in various anthologies.  His short fiction has appeared in Esquire, Harper’s, The Paris Review, and Zoetrope: All-Story, and his nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications.  In 2010, his reportage on post-earthquake Haiti was nationally broadcast on the radio show “This American Life.”

Fountain has served as fiction editor of the Southwest Review, and has taught at the undergraduate and graduate school level, including stints at The University of Texas at Austin, the University of Idaho, and UNC-Wilmington.  In 2014 - 2016, he will hold the Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at Texas State University.

Fountain has lived in Dallas since 1983.  He is married to Sharon Monahan Fountain, who heads the tax practice section of the law firm of Thompson & Knight.  They have two children.

Antonio-Ruiz-Camacho will receive the Jesse H. Jones Creative Writing Fellowship.  Antonio earned his MFA from The University of Texas in 2012.  At UT Austin, he won the Michael Adams Thesis Prize in Fiction for his collection, Barefoot Dogs, whose interlinked stories follow an affluent family from Mexico City as they're forced into diaspora after the family's patriarch disappears. 

Born and raised in Toluca, Mexico, he's received the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University, the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the Diversity Recruitment Fellowship at UT Austin. 

For more than sixteen years, he has worked and contributed as a journalist for American and Latin American print and online publications such as Etiqueta Negra and Letras Libres.As a teaching artist with The Austin Public Library Friends Foundation program Badgerdog, he's led bilingual creative writing workshops for second-grade students at Austin public schools. He lives in North Austin with his wife, Valentina, and his two sons, Emiliano and Guillermo.

During his time at the ranch, he'll work on a novel that takes place in Austin and Toluca. His fiction has been featured in Poets & Writers

First and second runners-up for the Johnston Fellowship are Susan Somers-Willett and Marcela Sulak.  First and second runners-up for the Jones Fellowship are Stacey Swann and Kathleen Winter.