Miraflores and West Side Rising Win International Latino Book Awards

The twenty-fifth annual International Latino Book Awards, held on October 21 in Los Angeles, celebrated winners in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, translation, and other categories. Two books from Trinity University Press in San Antonio were honored with the Mimi Lozano Best History Book award—a silver for Miraflores: San Antonio’s Mexican Garden of Memory, by Anne Elise Urrutia, and a bronze for West Side Rising: How San Antonio’s 1921 Flood Devastated a City and Sparked a Latino Environmental Justice Movement, by Char Miller. The award is named for Mimi Lozano, born in San Antonio, and an educator and activist for Latino rights.

Cofounded by Edward James Olmos, the book awards program is one of the country’s largest and recognizes important books by and about Latinos around the world. Winners have included major Latino literary stars and nurtures those who are starting their writing career and may be the stars of tomorrow. Most of all, the awards encourage thousands of future authors.

Silver award winner Miraflores is the story of Aureliano Urrutia, a prominent physician in Mexico City, who built Miraflores garden after immigrating to Texas during the Mexican Revolution. The garden’s plants, architecture, sculpture, and artisanship formed a cultural landscape reflecting Urrutia’s love for and memory of his homeland. The book recounts the garden’s history and celebrates the importance of the cultural, historical, and artistic meaning of a place.

“I am excited and thankful to be associated with the Mimi Lozano award,” author Anne Elise Urrutia said. “Family histories expand into community histories, illuminating the complexity and depth of our cultural heritages. I look forward to continuing my work in this area of writing.” 

Bronze award winner West Side Rising focuses on San Antonio’s enduring relationship to floods, which have had severe consequences for its communities of color in particular.

“I am thrilled by the honor, for it recognizes what the book asserts: that the past is filled with voices of those too long marginalized, if not ignored,” Miller said. “That surely was the case of the Latino residents of San Antonio’s vulnerable West Side, who endured the punishing impact of the 1921 flood that killed more than eighty. Yet it is also true that fifty years later those once excluded rose up and successfully wrested control from the Anglo power elite. Agency matters.”

“We are so proud to have published these two books, and to see them honored by the International Latino Book Awards committee,” Tom Payton, director of Trinity University Press, said. “They are both exemplary models of how critical local history is to understanding the untold and underappreciated stories within our diverse communities.”