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Saraiya Ruano ’13 Takes First Place in Fiction Competition

Saraiya Ruano '13 took first place in the fiction category at the 2015 Tucson Festival of Books Literary Awards competition. Her piece, "Awakening," beat out 265 other entries to take the top prize.

Ruano's story "reached right in and grabbed me by the throat with its power and depth, and by the heart with its soaring language and its understanding of what it means to be human. I wept, but I was glad to be weeping," said Kimberly Elkins, author of the critically acclaimed novel "What Is Visible" and a judge for the fiction category.

Author Denise Chavez, who judged the poetry section, said the level of submissions for the competition was "truly phenomenal. I applaud the finalists and their fine work, all full of spirit, all full of depth and talent." Overall, the competition drew 512 submissions from around the world - 266 submissions in fiction, 114 in nonfiction, and 132 in poetry.

A cum laude English major from Mesa, Arizona, Ruano is a painter, flutist, naturalist, and writer who is most interested in stories "that express both the physical and spiritual reality of the human being and the struggles which lead us to inner transformation." As a first-place winner, she receives $1,000, an invitation to appear at the Tucson book festival, and a scholarship to the master's workshop, to be held on the University of Arizona campus in March.

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