Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala 1991–93) has won the 8th Annual Gival Press Novel Award for his novel Julia & Rod. Mark will receive $3,000 and his novel will be published in 2013 by Gival Press. Mark is the author of four books of fiction, including The Incurables: Stories, winner of the 2012 Richard Sullivan Prize, from the University of Notre Dame Press.mark-b-images

Of his book, Thaddeus Rutkowski, final judge of the contest, and author of Haywire, Tetched and Roughhouse wrote:

This expressive, touching and at times wrenching novel tells the stories of two young people living in Guatemala during that country’s civil war. Teenagers Julia García and Rodrigo Rax meet at a school pageant and find that they are drawn to each other. Julia, the daughter of an engineer, lives in one of the few two-story houses in town. Rodrigo, who comes from less privilege, is a soccer star. But what begins as a love story soon becomes a struggle against circumstance. Julia and Rodrigo rise above old-fashioned customs of marriage and religious worship only to collide with events they cannot control. Ultimately, this finely crafted novel goes a long way toward answering the question of whether human free will can overcome fate, or God’s will.

As Mark wrote me, “This novel is set in Santa Cruz Verapaz, my Peace Corps site, and elsewhere in Guatemala. It makes 4 1/2 books of mine that grew out of my Peace Corps experience. What would I have written about without the Peace Corps?”

Today, Mark directs the M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing in the Department of English at West Virginia University. He is the author of An American Affair, winner of the 2004 George Garrett Prize for fiction, as well as The River of Lost Voices: Stories from Guatemala, winner of the 1998 Iowa Short Fiction Award, and a novel, Steal My Heart, winner of the 2001 Peace Corps Writers Maria Thomas Fiction Award. He is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and his stories, poems and essays have appeared in The Sun, Beloit Fiction Journal, Notre Dame Review, Atlanta Review, Shenandoah and other literary journals.

Gival Press is an independent literary publishing house located in Arlington, Virginia. They publish fiction, non-fiction (essays/educational texts), and poetry. Their publications are in English, French, and Spanish.