Thirty Texas writers honored

“This year especially, it’s an honor for us to be able to shine a bright light on these writers and their wonderful books.”


The Writers’ League of Texas (WLT) has announced the winners, finalists, and Discovery Prize winners for its WLT Book Awards, celebrating books published in 2019 by Texas authors.


Since 1991, the WLT has showcased the accomplishments of Texas writers annually with this award. To be eligible, the author must be from or have lived for more than three years in Texas and the book must have a publication date within the calendar year being celebrated. For books published in 2019, winners, finalists, and Discovery Prize winners were named in five categories with a total of thirty Texas writers honored. The winner in each category receives a $1,000 cash prize and a commemorative award. The Discovery Prize winner in each category receives a $250 cash prize.


: The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott

Finalists: Where We Come From by Oscar CásaresA Particular Kind of Black Man by Tope Folarin, Heaven, My Home by Attica LockeThe Electric Hotel by Dominic Smith, Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington

Discovery Prize Winner: Watershed by Mark Barr


Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino

Finalists: Big Wonderful Thing: A History of Texas by Stephen HarriganHow We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones, Sontag: Her Life and Work by Benjamin Moser, The Weil Conjectures by Karen Olsson 

Discovery Prize Winner: This Is My Body: A Memoir of Religious and Romantic Obsession by Cameron Dezen Hammon


Winner: The Tiny Journalist: Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye

Finalists: The Last Visit by Chad Abushanab, I Will Destroy You: Poems by Nick Flynn, Another Last Day by Alex Lemon, Newsworthy: Poems by Deborah Mouton

Discovery Prize Winner: Ceremony of Sand: Poems by Rodney Gomez


Middle Grade & Young Adult:
Winner: Redwood and Ponytail by K.A. Holt

Finalists: The Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Balcárcel, Her Own Two Feet: A Rwandan Girl's Brave Fight to Walk by Meredith Davis and Rebeka Uwitonze, Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly

Discovery Prize Winners: Eloia Born by Britta Jensen, Manufactured Witches by Michelle Rene


Picture Book:
Winner: Ella McKeen, Kickball Queen by Beth Mills

Finalists: Chicken Break! A Counting Book by Cate Berry, King of the Tightrope: When the Great Blondin Ruled Niagara by Donna Janell Bowman, Instructions Not Included: How a Team of Women Coded the Future by Tami Lewis Brown and Debbie Loren Dunn, A Voice for the Spirit Bears: How One Boy Inspired Millions to Save a Rare Animal by Carmen Oliver


“Everything that we do at the WLT is about supporting and championing Texas writers, and nothing is more emblematic of that than these annual book awards. This year especially, it’s an honor for us to be able to shine a bright light on these writers and their wonderful books. Today’s announcement–coming a bit later than we would have liked due to the challenges of the last several months–is a much-needed opportunity to celebrate not only these authors’ accomplishments but also the power of storytelling to transport us, challenge us, and guide us through even the most difficult of times,” said Becka Oliver, executive director of the WLT.


The Writers’ League of Texas is the largest literary arts organization in Texas, a nonprofit with more than 1,400 members residing across the state and beyond. Year-round programming includes: classes on the craft and business of writing, an annual conference, an annual summer writing retreat, open office hours, free public events (including panel discussions, Ask Us Anything Q&As, Off the Beaten Craft presentations, and more), an annual manuscript contest, the annual book awards, a rural-library program, and a school-visits program.


Founded in 1981, the organization provides a forum for information, support, and sharing among writers; works to help writers improve their craft and understand the business of publishing; promotes the interests of writers from diverse cultural, economic, sexual identity and orientation, ethnic, and religious backgrounds; and elevates the art and enterprise of writing, including supporting, growing, and championing the Texas literary community at large.