Dr Manuel Luis Martinez was recently awarded the American Book Award for his novel Los Duros (Floricanto Press, 2014). The American Book Awards were created to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America’s diverse literary community. The Awards are not bestowed by an industry organization, but rather are a writers’ award given by other writers.
In Los Duros, families must live without running water or electricity as they attempt to survive on the edge of the Salton Sea, a toxic lake where dead fish rot and poisons pollute the shore. The reality of living in the shanty wastelands of the affluent jewel cities of southern California threatens to destroy two young men living in desperate poverty and abandonment. Manuel tells their tragic stories.
“In the tradition of Richard Vásquez and Tomás Rivera, Martinez brings to life the bleak — though not hopeless — world of Los Duros, a colonía of poor Latinos and undocumented workers located outside the wealth and sprawl of Palm Springs," writes David Wright. "Following the intertwined lives of four of its residents — a high school teacher newly arrived from San Antonio who uses his classroom for activism and uplift; one of his students, a man-sized Native American boy trying to hide from the world within his silence; another student, brash and angry and with a wild streak; and that boy’s estranged father, recently released from the penitentiary and wanting to atone for all the ways in which he has failed his son — Los Duros is Border Realism at its best, John Steinbeck in twenty-first century brown skin.”
“Los Duros is a haunting story of racism and poverty and sacrifice and love," writes Lee Martin, OSU English professor. "Martinez writes with such courage and grace, and he has much to show us about the comings and goings of people forced to the edge. The characters and events of this novel are unforgettable.”
Congratulations, Professor Martinez, for this profound accolade!