Fiction

reviews

A magnificent work of literary alchemy, so masterfully infused with myth and history, you will feel these characters in your heart, your gut. You will grieve for their immortal souls.

Jamie Ford
Author, "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet"

An award-winning poet, fiction writer and essayist, Urrea should be required reading for anyone living in the Southwest. Pure Urrea means being part Mexican, part Indian and part gringo. Reading his work means getting lost in stories that have both fable-like romance and visceral hopelessness, in voices that shift beautifully from sharp and quick-witted to meditative and soft.

Seth Taylor
San Diego Union Tribune

Take a walk on the dead side. The largest folk movement in human history is taking place on the U.S./Mexican border. Nobody talks about it. This exodus is the result of the failure of the U.S. and Mexico as nations. Nobody talks about it. This slaughter house fries and mangles at least 400 people a year. Nobody talks about it. The Devil's Highway is coming to Main Street. Open your ears and eyes, wash the blood over your hands and read Luis Urrea. We gotta talk. Now.

Charles Bowden
Author of Down by the River

Mixing religious mysticism, a panoramic view of history, a Dickensian cast of minor characters, low comedy and political breast-beating, Urrea’s sprawling yet minutely detailed saga both awes and exhausts. 

Kirkus Reviews

Urrea is a poetic writer who draws strong characters and wears his literary compassion on his sleeve, and he uses all of his gifts to full advantage here.

Publisher's Weekly

The six stories in Urrea's new collection vary widely (in length, mood, and setting, just for starters) but his prose is singular and unmistakable. Short, direct sentences and pitch-perfect dialogue build into original studies of passion or restlessness or mischief, one detail at a time.

San Francisco Chronicle

STARRED REVIEW: Fiercely romantic and at times heart­breaking but also full of humor, Urrea’s latest novel blends fairy tale, Western adventure, folk tale, and historical drama. Fans of Hummingbird and readers new to Urrea’s work will surely enjoy this magnificent, epic novel.

Library Journal

In this collection of short stories, the author takes the reader on a roadtrip vaster than Jack Kerouac and Hunter Thompsons',  physical countries, but also broad internal nations of the psyche.

Gabrielle Shaw
ForeWord Magazine

"'Who is more of an outlaw than a saint?'" one of Luis Urrea's characters poses. The answer is this ferocious, ribald romance of the border. Jaunty, bawdy, gritty, sweet, Queen of America has a bottomless comic energy and a heart large enough to accept-even revel in-all of human folly."

Stewart O'Nan
Author "Emily, Alone," "Songs for the Missing

Twenty years in the making, Urrea's epic novel recounts the true story of his great-aunt Teresita. In 1873, amid the political turbulence of General Porfirio Díaz's Mexican republic, Teresita is born to a fourteen-year-old Indian girl, "mounted and forgotten" by her white master. Don Tomàs Urrea later takes his illegitimate daughter into his home, where she learns to bathe every week and read "Las Hermanas Brontë." But Teresita also continues a folk education as a curandera, discovering healing powers and a mystical relationship with God. Indian pilgrims swarm to the Urrea ranch, where "St. Teresita," a mestiza Joan of Arc, kindles in them a powerful faith in God and a perilous hunger for revolution. The novel brings to life not only the deeply pious figure whom Díaz himself dubbed "the Most Dangerous Girl in Mexico" but also the blood-soaked landscape of pre-revolutionary Mexico.

The New Yorker

Each scene in Queen of America unfurls gracefully like delicate wisps of smoke. Whether Teresita is being held captive in Northern California by a band of profiteering medical professionals, or being feted like a queen in New York’s social circles, this epic novel paints a portrait of America—and its inhabitants—with grace and style. It will spark fire in readers’ hearts.

Book Page

Urrea delivers a rich mix of Wild West and magic realism.

Publishers Weekly

The Water Museum

Suffused with wanderlust, compassion, and no small amout of rock and roll, this is a story collection that confirms Luis Alberto Urrea as an American master.

Queen of America

Now in Paperback!

In the long awaited sequel to The Hummingbird's Daughter, Teresita has been cast out of Mexico. Now she must make a new life in America.

 

 

Into the Beautiful North

Am honored that Into the Beautiful North is one of just 34 books selected for the NEA's Big Read project. Ride along with Nayeli & Tacho! Grant money is available for communities interested in exploring common ground through literature. Details here.

Mr. Mendoza's Paintbrush

Be careful growing up in the green, wet, mango-sweet Mexican village of Rosario, where dead corpses rise up out of the cathedral walls during July floods; where vast silver mines occasionally collapse causing a whole section of the village to drop out of sight; where a man with a paintbrush is the town’s self-appointed conscience.
 

The Hummingbird's Daughter

Twenty years in the making, this epic novel recounts the true story of Urrea's great-aunt Teresita. In pre-revolutionary Mexico, this illegitimate daughter of a great landowner who is suddenly gifted with miraculous healing powers becomes a figurehead to the pious and the insurgent. Eventually, she is dubbed "the Most Dangerous Girl in Mexico."

Six Kinds of Sky

Urrea, best known for his hard-hitting nonfiction (Across the Wire; Nobody's Son), proves once again to be an eloquent and elegiac spokesman for the down-and-out and the disaffected in this collection of six stories whose settings range from Mexico to the Sioux nation in South Dakota.

In Search of Snow

In the hot Arizona desert of the late 1950s, Mike McGurk comes of age in one big, riotous gush. Trapped pumping gas at a desolate roadstop, he yearns for things he has never known: love, hope, and the soft, white calmness of snow. Mike's world is filled with a menagerie of quirky characters, who cope with the weight of their unfulfilled dreams with bravado, humor, and violence.
 

Book club members have been some of my most enthusiastic and careful readers. I’m thrilled to share my work with you, answer your questions and tell you some of the stories behind the stories. This is our spot, just for us. Here, we can chat:  If I’m nearby, I’ll come and visit your club. Otherwise, we can Skype, talk over the phone or email. Sometimes, I’ll send surprises or hold contests.

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