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Vol. XIII, no. 1

TCU Library Newsletter, Web Edition

April 2001

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The Texas Book Award Banquet
By Judy Alter and Sandra Hawk Record

Austin novelist Stephen Harrigan is the inaugural winner of the Texas Book Award for his best-selling novel, The Gates of the Alamo. The award, presented by The Friends of the TCU Library and TCU Press, recognizes the best book on Texas published in a given calendar year. Harrigan will receive his award and the accompanying $5,000 prize at a dinner April 10, at the Dee J. Kelly Alumni Center.       

Honorable mentions were awarded to Christopher Cook for Robbers and Steven Saylor for A Twist at the End: A Novel of O. Henry.

The Texas Book Award was created to recognize good literature and writing -- both fiction and nonfiction -- about Texas. Following this inaugural presentation, the award will be presented every other year and consider entries from a two-year span. Judges for the first award were Jeff Guinn, book editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram; Cheryl Chapman, book editor of the Dallas Morning News; and Judyth Rigler, former book editor of the San Antonio Express-News.

The Gates of the Alamo, a fictional account of the events leading up to and including the battle of the Alamo, has drawn high praise from reviewers. Kirkus Reviews wrote, "An original work of high distinction indeed: as fine a historical novel as any within recent memory." Publishers Weekly said, "Harrigan has crafted a compulsively readable historical drama on a grand scale, peopled with highly believable frontier personalities-Mexican as well as American-and suffused with period authenticity."

Stephen Harrigan has contributed articles to Rolling Stone, Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, and Texas Observer, and is a regular contributor to Texas Monthly. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, he received a Dobie-Paisano Fellowship in 1977. While living on J. Frank Dobie's ranch outside Austin, he completed his first novel, Aransas. His other books include the novel Jacob's Ladder and the nonfiction titles A Natural State: Essays on Texas, Comanche Midnight, and Water and Light: A Diver's Journey to a Coral Reef.

The Gates of the Alamo, according to Harrigan, is the book he knew he would write since he first saw the Alamo at the age of seven. "The story of the Alamo," he has said, "is the Texas creation myth, and the Alamo itself, or what is left of it-this grim little church in the heart of downtown San Antonio-is one of the world's most mysterious and resonant places." He worked on the novel for eight years, reading diaries and letters and battle orders, consulting historians, and discovering that everything he thought he knew about the Alamo was wrong.

The Texas Book Award dinner is open to the public; tickets are $25 per person. The Gates of the Alamo will be available for purchase and autographing.  For dinner reservations or information on the Texas Book Award, call the TCU library at ext. 6109. 

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