UHV/ABR spring author lineup draws on heritage, identity

Marilyn Chin Dana Johnson Alex Espinoza Scott Russell Sanders Domingo Martinez

The award-winning authors scheduled to talk during University of Houston-Victoria/American Book Review’s Spring 2014 Reading Series address their own heritage and identity in their writings.

Cultural assimilation will be a repeated theme during the Spring Reading Series. Several of the authors have written about how they adjusted to living in foreign settings.

Jeffrey Di Leo

“Heritage and identity are important topics for any writer,” said Jeffrey Sartain, ABR managing editor and assistant professor in the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “It is not surprising that many of the best writers in the country are dealing with these subjects. Everyone has a different story to tell, and everyone’s individual story helps us create the picture of who we are and what literature means in our time.”

ABR will continue its eighth reading series with five authors visiting in the spring. The lineup includes a Flannery O’Connor Award winner, a Pushcart Prize winner and a National Book Award finalist.

“The collective works of these authors is impressive,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, ABR editor/publisher and dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “The awards they have won speak for themselves. We are in for another great semester of readings. I think our students and area residents will enjoy hearing from the authors. There’s something for just about everyone.”

Jeffrey Sartain

Sartain said he’s excited about the range of writing displayed by the invited authors.

“We have a great mix of different kinds of writing,” he said. “People attending the spring series are going to hear fantastic poetry, fiction and essays from authors who are really skilled at presenting their work.”

Writers scheduled for the Spring 2014 ABR Reading Series are:

Marilyn Chin, Jan. 30 – Chin is the author of one novel, three books of poetry and a collection of essays. Her award-winning works focus on her experience as a Chinese woman living in America and the struggle that comes with cultural assimilation and self-discovery. She has received numerous awards for her work, among them the National Book Council Award and the Pushcart Prize.

Dana Johnson, Feb. 20 – Dana Johnson is the author of “Elsewhere, California” and “Break Any Woman Down,” which won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Born and raised in and around Los Angeles, Calif., she is an associate professor of English at the University of Southern California, where she teaches literature and creative writing.

Alex Espinoza, March 6 – Espinoza has authored two books and numerous shorter works. His stories and essays are known for drawing on his Hispanic heritage and describing his assimilation into American culture. “Still Water Saints,” his debut novel, was published simultaneously in Spanish and English. His fictional work has been featured in various anthologies and journals such as The Southern California Review, and his essays have appeared in The New York Times.

Scott Russell Sanders, March 27 – Sanders is the author of 20 books consisting of collections of nonfiction, novels and personal stories. He also is the author of three children’s books and is known for his attention to nature and history in his writings. Through the years, he has collected numerous awards for his work, including the Mark Twain Award and the Lannan Literary Award.

Domingo Martinez, April 24 – Martinez is the author of “The Boy King of Texas.” The book explores his experience growing up in the border town of Brownsville and the cultural collision of two countries. Martinez was a nominee for the 2013 Pushcart Prize and a finalist for the National Book Award. He will be the 70th speaker the UHV/ABR Reading has welcomed to the Victoria community.

The free readings in the Spring Reading Series are scheduled to begin at noon in the Alcorn Auditorium of UHV University West, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St. The public is invited to attend, and light refreshments will be served.

Authors will be available after each reading to sign copies of their books, which can be purchased at the events. During his visit, each author will meet with students and attend functions in the community.

ABR is a nonprofit, internationally distributed literary journal that is published six times a year. It began in 1977, moved to UHV in 2007 and has a circulation of about 8,000. The journal specializes in reviews of works published by small presses.

For more information about the UHV/ABR Reading Series, call the ABR office at 361-570-4101 or go to

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Jeremy Shapiro