Former UTEP professor’s book hits the big screen


Maria L. Guerrero Duran

“Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World” by Benjamin Alire Saenz former UTEP creative writing professor.

Maria L. Guerrero Duran, Web Editor

Former UTEP professor, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, recently announced his book, “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe,” will soon hit the big screen and released the sequel “Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World.” 

Born in New Mexico and raised in El Paso, Alire Sáenz  attended UTEP, where he received his master’s degree in Creative Writing and continued his professorship with the MFA Creative Writing department. 

The book was published in 2012 and hit the New York Times bestseller list, winning multiple awards such as the Stonewall award for best YA LBGT book in 2013, the Michael L. Printz honors for young adult literature in 2013 and the literary award Lambda for LGBT young adult literature in 2013. 

Based in 1987 El Paso, “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” tells us the story of Aristotle Mendoza and Dante Quintana, two teenagers who meet under ordinary circumstances but discover the realms of interpersonal relationships and the universe they hold within each other. 

Due to these two characters’ natural quest for identity and belonging, the audience can establish a connection with the story, especially in this day and age where teenagers and young adults are trying to be at peace with their sexual orientation and the outer world.  

Saenz’s book empathizes with teenagers and young adults in the borderland who struggle to express themselves in Mexican American culture. 

After its enormous success in the publishing world, the story was slated to become a major film in 2017. On Nov. 3, it was announced that filming had been completed for the adaptation.  

“And that’s a wrap! Filming officially ended for #AriandDanteMovie and I couldn’t possibly be more proud of this hardworking and talented trio,” said Alire Sáenz via Instagram, talking about Max Pelayo and Reese Gonzalez, who will bring Aristotle and Dante to life.  

The film will be led by the Mexican actor Eugenio Derbez and the Latin actress Eva Longoria, who worked closely with the Latinx debut director Aitch Alberto, a writer for the HBO Max show Duster. Among the list of producers are Eugenio Derbez, and the Grammy award-winning songwriter and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda. 

In addition to the film adaptation, the novel’s sequel “Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World” hit bookstore shelves and online platforms Oct. 12. Just days after its publication, the sequel got selected for Barnes & Noble’s Best Books of 2021 list and reached number one on the New York Times best-selling YA list. You can also follow Benjamin Alire Saenz on Instagram @benjamin.alire.saenz to keep up with the updates of the film adaptation and buy his books at bookstores.  

Maria L. Guerrero Duran is the web editor and may be reached at [email protected]