UPDATE: Fresno State Alum Mark Arax wins 2019 James Beard Foundation Journalism Award

Mark Arax by Joel Pickford and "A Kingdom from Dust" screenshot from www.californiasunday.com

Department of Media, Communications and Journalism alumnus and Fresno resident Mark Arax has been recognized for his work in literary nonfiction by the prestigious James Beard Foundation.

The James Beard Media Awards were held Friday April 26 in New York City. The event, a celebration of the year’s top books, broadcast and journalism pieces that highlight food, is considered the “Oscars” for the nation’s culinary world.

Mark Arax, who was not present, was announced as the winner in the “Feature” category for his story “A Kingdom from Dust” which appeared in the California Sunday Magazine last year. Arax’s story about the agricultural empire of Stewart Resnick first appeared last year in The California Sunday Magazine.

“I got a text that read, ‘YEAH BABY!’, and I assumed, as a Giants fan, that he was rubbing it in about his beloved Dodgers winning another big game,” Arax said. “It took another text to figure out that he was telling me I had won a Beard award.”

The article has also been named a finalist for Feature Writing in the National Magazine Awards.

Stewart Resnick is the biggest farmer in the United States, a fact he has tried to keep hidden while he has shaped what we eat, transformed California's landscape, and ruled entire towns.

The winning story is part of Arax’s upcoming book, “The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California”, to be released in May by Knopf publishing.

“Arax has written about rural California for many years. This is his crowning achievement, a work of reportage that is also a work of literature. It belongs on the short list of great books about the state,” said David Ulin, former book review editor of the Los Angeles Times.

Mark Arax by Joel Pickford

An author, journalist and former staffer of the Los Angeles Times and The California Sunday Magazine, Arax’s writings on California and the West have received numerous awards for literary nonfiction.

Arax will launch his national tour of the book with a reading and talk at the Veteran’s Memorial Building in Clovis on May 17 at 7 p.m. Tickets for the event, which will benefit the New Clovis Library, are now available online. The cost is $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Seating is limited.

Terri Uyeki and Benjamin Kirk contributed to this report.

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