President Robert J. Zimmer presented the award at a reception at The UChicago Quadrangle Club on April 21. The Press awards the Laing Prize annually to the UChicago faculty author, editor or translator of a book published in the previous three years that brings the Press the greatest distinction.
“From art to city planning, from epidemiology to poetry, I Speak of the City challenges the conventional wisdom about Mexico City, investigating the city and the turn-of-the-century world to which it belonged,” the Press wrote in announcing the award. “By engaging with the rise of modernism and the cultural experiences of such personalities as Hart Crane, Mina Loy and Diego Rivera, I Speak of the City will find an enthusiastic audience across the disciplines.”
In addition to the Laing Prize, Tenorio-Trillo’s book, which focuses on Mexico City from 1880 to 1940, has been honored with the Spiro Kostof Book award by the Society of Architectural Historians, and the Bolton-Johnson Prize Honorable Mention Award from the American Historical Association. It was originally published in hardcover in February 2013.
Tenorio-Trillo said at one point, after several attempts, he had lost faith that the book would ever be published. His colleague, Prof. Emilio Kouri, told him to try the University of Chicago Press. “He said they do not normally publish Latin American history, but they publish what you do: history and thinking,” said Tenorio-Trillo. And so the manuscript was sent to Press Executive Editor Douglas Mitchell to review.
“My books in Spanish sometimes are catalogued as history, sometimes as essays, closer to literature. I was truly surprised to learn of this very prestigious prize,” said Tenorio-Trillo. “I do not know if my work has finally reached the maturity to deserve such a prize or if I have luckily arrived to the intellectual milieu where the idiosyncratic nature of my work is considered a true intellectual contribution. With or without prizes, it’s been a privilege to work here and to collaborate with the University of Chicago Press,” he added.
Tenorio-Trillo also is an associate professor of the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, Mexico City, and has authored many books, including Mexico at the World’s Fairs.