This week, we turn our attention to the author of this month’s Book Group, Benjamin Alire-Sáenz. Sáenz was born in 1954 in Old Picacho, Mexico just approximately forty miles short of the U.S.-Mexico border. He was raised in a traditional Mexican-American Catholic family. In fact, upon graduating from Las Cruces High School, Sáenz entered seminary to become a priest. After being ordained and serving three years as a priest, Sáenz decided to leave the priesthood.
Then, Sáenz attended the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) where he studied English and creative writing. Here, he received his Master’s degree. Sáenz began work on his Ph.D. at Stanford, but he returned to El Paso and began teaching prior to earning this degree. At UTEP, he started teaching in the bilignual Masters of Fine Arts program. Currently, Sáenz is a faculty member at UTEP and he continues to write.
Sáenz has written numerous books of poetry, children’s books, and young adult fiction including: Calendar of Dust, A Gift from Papa Diego, Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood, and of course, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Several of Sáenz’s works have won awards. He has also authored four bilingual children’s books. LGBT themes are common in Sáenz’s work. In fact, Sáenz, who recently revealed that he is gay, has cited using these themes in his writing as a means to cope with and explore his own sexuality and identity.
Hopefully, you will join us this month in reading Sáenz’s latest book!
Until next time,