Independent Book Award given to JJ Wilson’s Damnificados

© Western New Mexico University

The accolades continue for author JJ Amaro Wilson and his most recent title Damnificados, an acclaimed fiction novel published in 2016.

Damnificados was awarded a Gold Medal by The Independent Publisher Book Awards in the Multicultural Fiction Category, selected from more than 5,000 entries from 18 countries.

Wilson is the Writer-in-Residence at Western New Mexico University and a prize-winning author of more than 20 books about language and language learning.

Wilson’s first novel is loosely based on the real-life occupation of a half-completed skyscraper in Caracas, Venezuela, the Tower of David. Wilson’s idea to write the book originated during a visit to Venezuela in 2013.

The Tower of David was erected in 1990 and abandoned in 1994 when the Venezuelan government ran short of funds to complete the project due to the country’s banking crisis. More than 2,500 people moved into the structure until they were eventually relocated in phases through July 2015.

In this fictional version, 600 “damnificados” – vagabonds and misfits – take over the tower and set up a community including schools and stores. Their struggle for survival is detailed through magical realism including avenging wolves, biblical floods and multilingual ghosts.

Damnificados was previously recognized by the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards.

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