International Group Honors Book by UTEP Alumnus
Last Updated on November 17, 2021 at 12:00 PM
Originally published November 17, 2021
By Daniel Perez
UTEP Marketing and Communications
The International Latino Book Awards recognized author David Smith-Soto, an alumnus of The University of Texas at El Paso, with its Gold Award in the Adventure/Drama Novel category for “Havana Hallelujah.”
The “complex” and “psychological” novel revolves around a young newspaper reporter whose assignments take him from a racist situation in Virginia to political intrigue in Florida. In between, he must cover government unrest in Guatemala and a mass exodus of Cuban boat people.
Smith-Soto, a former journalist with 30 years of experience, taught digital photography and bilingual writing in UTEP’s Department of Communication from 2004 through 2016. The Costa Rica native earned his MFA in bilingual creative writing from UTEP in 2006.
He said the international award validates the novel and the necessary skills it took to write fiction, which he honed through his master’s program. He said he had wanted to write his novel for more than 30 years.
“Having worked my entire career connected in one way for another to Latin America, I can tell you that it is always a struggle to get U.S. audiences interested in the Latino world,” Smith-Soto said. “This award is designed to publicize the universe of Latino writing and publishing, and it is a unique honor.”The International Latino Book Awards are the largest Latino literary recognition program in the United States of America. The group, which represents 21 countries, has honored 3,470 authors and publishers since 2001 for their work in English, Spanish and Portuguese.