MORGANTOWN, W.Va. West Virginia University English Professor Mark Brazaitis novel “Julia & Rodrigo” is a finalist for both the 2014 Ohioana Book Award (for fiction) and ForeWord Reviews 2013 Book of the Year Award (for multicultural literature).
Set during the Guatemalan Civil War, “Julia & Rodrigo” tells the story of Julia García and Rodrigo Rax, teenagers determined to marry each other despite family objections and differences of class, religion, and culture.
Writing about “Julia & Rodrigo” in “Peace Corps Worldwide,” Ann Neelon said,
“In propping up military dictators, the United States certainly did its part in exacerbating the class differences that led to untold violence in Guatemala. I could be didactic here and remind readers that the gap between the rich and the poor is growing apace in the United States. There’s no time like the present to read ‘Julia & Rodrigo’ and so on.
The novel, however, is not a polemic about Guatemala. It is a love story. Thus I think I would be much truer to Brazaitis’ purposes if I simply recommended ‘Julia & Rodrigo’ to anyone who has ever fallen in love and to anyone who ever will.”
The Ohioana Awards, established in 1942, honor Ohio authors in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, juvenile literature, and, when appropriate, books about Ohio and Ohioans. Brazaitis was born in East Cleveland, Ohio.
Among this year’s Ohioana Award finalists are a Pulitzer Prize winner, a National Book Award finalist, and a Grammy nominee. “Julia & Rodrigo” is competing against five other books of fiction, including the novel “Middle C” by William H. Gass, a past winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the American Book Award.
For the ForeWord Reviews 2013 Book of the Year Award in multicultural literature, “Julia & Rodrigo” is up against nine other finalists.
“It’s always a thrill to have one’s work recognized,” Brazaitis said. “Anything that draws potential readers is a plus.”
For more information, contact Mark Brazaitis at 304-293-9707 or Mark.Brazaitis@mail.wvu.edu.