The University of Arizona Press earned top honors at the 2011 Arizona Book Awards, which was sponsored by the Arizona Book Publishing Association and held in Phoenix.
The UA Press walked away with seven awards for books published in 2010.
"It's so wonderful when our books and authors, who've worked so hard, are singled out for their contributions to Arizona's literary landscape," said Kathryn Conrad, interim director for UA Press, who accepted the awards on behalf of the organization.
Among the awards:
- "A Gift of Angels: The Art of Mission San Xavier del Bac" received Best Book, Best Art/Music/Photography Book, and also Best Regional Book. The book was authored by Bernard "Bunny" Fontana with photographs by Edward McCain.
- Best Embodying Arizona Book and also Best Adult Nonfiction went to Gary L. Stuart's "Innocent Until Interrogated: The True Story of the Buddhist Temple Massacre and the Tucson Four."
- Best Multicultural Book went to "Crossing with the Virgin: Stories from the Migrant Trail" by Kathryn Ferguson, Norma A. Price and Ted Parks.
- Best Poetry Book went to "Each and Her" by Valerie Martínez.
"A Gift of Angels, for example, was more than 10 years
in the making," Conrad said. "These books deserve this recognition, and we're honored to be part of this annual publishing celebration."
Mission San Xavier del Bac attracts about 200,000 visitors each year from all over the world. Yet no book has ever wholly documented the Mission in color and in religious and historical detail its baroque art and architecture.
The book is a long-overdue tribute to this eighteenth-century masterpiece.
"The book is universal in scope," said Fontana, an anthropologist who lives within a mile of the Mission, who worked with McCain, who was wed at the Mission.
"Quite simply it's a building that happens to be located here, while the story its art conveys is one that can be understood wherever Roman Catholicism has taken root," Fontana said. "Tucsonans are lucky to have such a lively text right in their backyards."
Stuart's "Innocent Until Interrogated" has garnered much praise since its publication last year.
Chosen by multiple judges in the 2010 Southwest Books of the Year competition, it's been called "a page-turner worthy
of Grisham" and "a book that should be required reading for all American citizens."
Booklist credited Stuart for creating a "thoroughly engrossing book that should awaken outrage," while the Tucson Weekly praised his years of painstaking research that resulted in one of the "most unsettling works of true crime."
Stuart's book offers a riveting account of the 1991 slaying of 10 people at Wat Promkunaram Buddhist Temple in Phoenix
and the botched investigation that followed.
In the first book-length treatment of the subject, Stuart
demonstrates what happens when confessions are held as the highest proof of guilt and accepted in the absence
Another award winner is "Crossing with the Virgin."
Over the last 10 years, more than 4,000 people have died while crossing the Arizona desert to find jobs, join
families, or start new lives.
The book details stories from migrants about these treacherous treks – firsthand accounts told to volunteers for the Samaritans, a humanitarian group that seeks to prevent such unnecessary deaths by providing these travelers with medical aid, water and food.
Other migrants tell of the corpses they pass – bodies that are never recovered or counted. While other books have dealt with border crossing, "Crossing with the Virgin" is the first to share stories of immigrant suffering at its worst told by migrants encountered on desert trails.
Publishers Weekly credited the authors for producing a "vital, humanizing perspective on a divisive issue, with stories that will stick with readers for a long time."
In "Each and Her," poet Valerie Martínez, former Santa Fe Poet Laureate, transports readers to the killing fields of Juárez, where more than 450 girls and women have been brutally tortured and murdered since 1993.
Combining literature, art, mythology and religion, Martínez's collection is at once delicate in its references to rose cultivation and gritty, where boys follow a trail in scraps of women's clothing.
It takes the reader to a world of what Amnesty International
refers to as "intolerable deaths," where bodies of the innocent are found naked, lying exposed in the stark
desert, surrounded by maquiladoras, cardboard shanties and unimaginable horror.
According to ForeWord Reviews, Martínez "demands that we regard the lives which have been – and continue to be – lost in the dark."