Award-Winning Author Rudy Ruiz Set To Release Latest Novel, The Border Between Us

San Antonio-based author Rudy Ruiz, known for his explorations of border experiences, has been making waves in the literary world with his recent novels. An award-winning author, advocate, and social entrepreneur, Ruiz draws inspiration from his upbringing along the Texas-Mexico border. It has shaped his unique storytelling perspective, which is sure to delight readers in his upcoming offering, The Border Between Us.

“I live in San Antonio, but I grew up down on the border,” Ruiz told San Antonio magazine. “My dad and grandfather were cattle ranchers, so I grew up riding horses and watching Westerns and Mexican Westerns with charro-type characters like the hero in this book. A lot of those experiences as a child and growing up kind of helped me visualize and sort of create these characters and their world — even down to the names.”

It’s no wonder fans are panting in anticipation of his new tome. His last novel, Valley of Shadows, earned Ruiz the prestigious Texas Institute of Letters’ Jesse H. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction and garnered two International Latino Book Awards. Valley of Shadows, released in paperback on Sept. 19, takes readers on a journey through 19th-century West Texas, where murder, horror, and mystery are set alight with elements of magical realism. The book’s success and accolades have solidified his position as a masterful storyteller.

“That’s been fantastic,” Ruiz told MySanAntonio when asked about his experience receiving the Texas Institute of Letters Jesse H. Jones Award. “It’s a very prestigious organization and a lot of great writers belong to it. So, when you get that kind of feedback from your fellow writers, it’s personally very rewarding. You know, you feel like your work has been appreciated and understood, and so that’s been fantastic. And then of course, it gives additional exposure to the book so readers can kind of take an interest in it.”

Now, Ruiz is gearing up for the release of The Border Between Us, published by Blackstone Publishing. Unlike his previous work, this is set in a more modern-day context, following the character Ramón Lopez from childhood to adulthood in the 1970s and ’80s. The saga captures the complexities of growing up as a first-generation American along the U.S.-Mexico border and explores themes of identity, aspiration, and family dynamics.

The novel tracks Ramón Lopez’s journey as he embraces the American dream amid the shifting landscapes of the border. Drawing from his memories, Ruiz intertwines fictional elements with personal experiences, such as young Ramón’s entrepreneurial venture of selling chile packets from Mexico to his Texas classmates. These anecdotes provide a tangible link between the author’s life and the narrative.

Through The Border Between Us, Ruiz continues challenging oversimplified views of the border, highlighting its porous and dynamic nature. The novel invites readers to contemplate the diverse perspectives surrounding the region, from geographical and cultural aspects to the metaphysical. Ruiz also aims to shed light on the multifaceted nature of border communities and the intricate web of identity that exists within them.

The novel transcends its fictional status by drawing from Ruiz’s memories of growing up on the border, lending an authenticity that resonates with readers. Ramón’s journey becomes a metaphor for the boundary itself—constantly changing, full of potential, and a testament to the resilience of those who inhabit it.

One of the most compelling aspects of the book is its exploration of time and change. The novel’s historical context is interwoven with personal growth, creating a unique narrative tapestry that blurs the line between past and present. As the border evolves over the decades, so too does Ramón, as he grapples with the complexities of his dual identity and strives to find his place in a world that’s both familiar and always transforming.

Said Ruiz, “I think it also very much is the story of a person growing up on the border and trying to find their place in the world and kind of trying to figure out how they can kind of reach for their goals and aspirations without losing a sense of who they are and where they come from.”

Several of its chapters were originally published as stand-alone short stories in esteemed literary journals such as Gulf Coast, New Texas, and The Dillydoun Review. Notably, “That Boy Could Run” clinched the coveted 2017 Gulf Coast Prize in Fiction, while both “Limes” and “Allegiance” earned distinction as finalists for the Texas Institute of Letters’ prestigious Kay Cattarulla Award for Best Short Story.

Ruiz’s profound insights on borders and identity aren’t limited to his novels. His political commentary has appeared on platforms like CNN, showcasing his ability to engage in critical societal discussions. A bilingual native of the border, Ruiz spent his early childhood commuting between the sister cities of Brownsville, Texas, and Matamoros, Mexico. Today, as he fills the tapestries of his novels with endearing tales of characters migrating from one border to another, the news is filled with shocking accounts of deaths along the buoys in the Rio Grande. 

“In these books, I think the way that I portray the border is the way I experienced it, which is that the border isn’t this impenetrable barrier. It’s really more like a porous membrane,” Ruiz said. “Even going back before history, people and goods and wildlife constantly crossed that border and the border itself has been shifting, so when you try to impose these very rigid constraints on the border, tragedy happens.”

As his latest novel, The Border Between Us, is set to be released in September 2024, readers and fans eagerly await another thought-provoking exploration of border experiences. Blackstone Publishing, which continues to champion diverse and compelling stories, stands behind this promising work of literary fiction. “Blackstone Publishing is incredibly excited to continue publishing Rudy Ruiz,” says senior acquisitions editor Marilyn Kretzer. “This is Rudy’s best book yet.”

Rudy Ruiz’s past works of fiction also include The Resurrection of Fulgencio Ramirez and Seven for the Revolution. His books have received widespread critical acclaim. The Resurrection of Fulgencio Ramirez was named one of the Top 10 Best First Novels of 2020 by the American Library Association’s Booklist, won two gold medals at the International Latino Book Awards, and was a Finalist for the Western Writers of America’s Best Contemporary Novel award. His debut short story collection, Seven for the Revolution, received four International Latino Book Awards. In addition to the Texas Institute of Letters award, Valley of Shadows was longlisted for the Reading the West award, included by the Los Angeles Times in its map of Great American Novels, and named one of the Best Horror Novels of 2022 by LitHub’s Crime Reads.

Article Editor

Pamela is a television journalist, humor writer and novelist. Her first novel, Allegedly, was released in 2015 by St. Martin’s Press. The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She and her husband, Daniel, have a 3-year-old son, Carter.

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