University of Texas at Austin

Thursday, July 7, 2011

New Paisano Fellows Anticipate Time, Space and a Thoughtful Place to Write

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Photo by Marsha Miller

“My greatest worries, as a writer, are about time and space, whether I will have enough to complete the work that compels me.  Six months on a 250-acre ranch: I couldn’t ask for a greater gift!” says Stefan Block, who has recently been announced as the recipient of the Jesse Jones fellowship through the Dobie Paisano fellowship for writers.

Block’s first novel, “The Story of Forgetting,” won Best First Fiction at the Rome International Festival of Literature, the 2008 Merck Serono Literature Prize and the 2009 Fiction Award from The Writers’ League of Texas.  “The Story of Forgetting” was also named a best book of 2008 by The Austin Chronicle, The Independent (UK), and St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and it was a finalist for the debut fiction awards from IndieBound, Salon du Livre and The Center for Fiction.  His second novel, “The Storm at the Door,” will be released in the summer of 2011. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly describes “The Storm at the Door” as “masterful … heartbreaking… [an] incredibly moving story of life, love, and mental illness … It’s this generation’s ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.’”

He says, “I’m going to complete this new novel I’ve been writing, damn it!  Or else, should I not quite achieve that formidable goal, I’m at least going to learn the limits of my ability to withstand solitude.”

Manuel Luis Martinez has been awarded the Ralph A. Johnston fellowship and will spend four months at the ranch.  A native of San Antonio, the associate professor of 20th century

Photo by Marsha Miller

Photo by Marsha Miller

American literature, American studies, Chicano/Latino studies and creative writing at Ohio State University, is looking forward to coming home this fall.

After his initial shock, Martinez hugged his wife and called family and friends to tell them he’d be spending time close by. “I also realized what a unique opportunity I was being handed to write in quiet, thoughtful surroundings for four months. It’s daunting in a way, because I have challenged myself to produce the best piece of fiction I can create.”

Martinez’ first novel, “Crossing,” was chosen as one of the 10 outstanding books by a writer of color. His second novel, “Drift,” was chosen as one of the best books of 2004 by the American Library Association. His latest novel is “Day of the Dead.”  Martinez is a regular contributor of reviews and essays to the Chicago Tribune.  He is working on the film adaptation of “Drift” and completing work on a new novel, “Fortunate Monsters,” which follows the travails of a Mexican-American family coping with the death of a father in San Antonio.

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