UHV announces fall American Book Review series author lineup

Nicolas Kanellos Ron Riekki Amber Dermont Oscar Casares Nan Cuba

The first author in this fall’s University of Houston-Victoria/American Book Review Reading Series founded a renowned Hispanic publishing house in Houston, and the final writer started a nonprofit literacy center in San Antonio.

Add in an up-and-coming Michigan writer, a distinguished Georgia storyteller and an Austin creative writing scholar, and the fall 2014 Reading Series lineup packs quite a punch.

“It’s going to be an exciting lineup,” said Jeffrey Sartain, ABR managing editor and assistant professor in the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “It’s an exciting mix of authors representing a variety of different interests and approaches to literature. I think there will be something for everyone in the series.”

Jeffrey Di Leo

The series, which is entering its ninth season, has become a vibrant addition to Victoria’s cultural scene. While in town, each author meets with students and attends functions in the community.

“I’m looking forward to another terrific year of readings by talented artists who have graciously agreed to share their work with UHV students, faculty and staff, and the community,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, ABR editor/publisher and dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “We’ve had more than 70 authors participate in the series, and we’re again thrilled that so many respected writers can join us this fall.”

Writers scheduled for the fall 2014 ABR Reading Series are:

Nicolas Kanellos, Sept. 4 – Kanellos is the founding publisher of noted Hispanic literary journal The Americas Review and the nation’s oldest and most esteemed Hispanic publishing house, Arte Público Press. The longtime UH professor was the recipient of the 1988 Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature presented by the White House. His book, “A History of Hispanic Theater in the United States: Origins to 1940,” received numerous awards. Kanellos’ latest book, “Hispanic Immigrant Literature: El Sueño del Retorno,” won the PEN Southwest Award for Non-Fiction.

Ron Riekki, Sept. 25 – Riekki is the author of the novel “U.P.” and the anthology “The Way North,” which has won several publishing awards this year, including a Midwest Book Award and Next Generation Indie Book Award. His fiction, nonfiction and poetry have been published by numerous presses, including Verse Wisconsin, WSU Press, Moonshot Magazine and many other literary journals. His next book, “Here,” will be published by Michigan State University Press in May 2015.

Amber Dermont, Oct. 16 – Dermont is the New York Times bestselling author of the novel “The Starboard Sea” and the short story collection “Damage Control.” Her short stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies, including Dave Eggers’s “Best American Nonrequired Reading,” “Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope: All-Story” and Jane Smiley’s “Best New American Voices.” She is an associate professor of English at Rice University.

Oscar Casares, Nov. 6 – Casares is the author of the novel “Amigoland” and a collection of stories titled “Brownsville.” He has earned fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Copernicus Society of America and the Texas Institute of Letters. “Brownsville” was selected by the American Library Association as a Notable Book of 2004. “Amigoland” was selected by the 2010 Mayor’s Book Club in Austin for that year’s citywide reading campaign. He teaches creative writing and is director of the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Nan Cuba, Dec. 4 – Cuba is founder and executive director emeritus of the nonprofit literary center Gemini Ink in San Antonio. She is the author of the novel “Body and Bread,” which won the PEN/Southwest Award in Fiction and the Texas Institute of Letters Steven Turner Award for Best Work of First Fiction. She received a Fundación Valparaiso Residency Grant in Mojácar, Spain, and was twice the runner-up for the Dobie Paisano Fellowship. As an investigative journalist, she reported on causes of extraordinary violence in publications such as LIFE, Third Coast and D Magazine.

Jeffrey Sartain

“Dr. Kanellos is an editor and activist for Hispanic literature and bilingual literature,” Sartain said. “He’ll give us a cultural production angle to start the series. Mr. Riekki writes about the upper peninsula of Michigan. He’s involved in the effort going on in Michigan to have a state poet laureate. Michigan is one of six states without one.”

Dermont and Casares are graduates of the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, widely considered the top creative writing school in the nation, Sartain said.

“Ms. Dermont has experienced great success with her work, while Mr. Casares’ ‘Brownsville’ has generated a lot of good press,” he said. “He’s primarily a scholar and editor, so I’m interested to see what he will read us.”

The free readings in the Fall 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.

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