Non-Fiction

reviews

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

Publishers Weekly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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"

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

"'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

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

The Devil's Highway

Honored that The Devil's Highway is the Montclar Book 2013 at Montclair State University and All-Freshman Read at the University of Texas-San Antonio. Look for a special 10th anniversary edition next year!

Nobody's Son: Notes from an American Life

Here's a story about a family that comes from Tijuana and settles into the 'hood, hoping for the American Dream. I'm not saying it's our story. I'm not saying it isn't. It might be yours. "How do you tell a story that cannot be told?" writes Luis Alberto Urrea in this potent memoir of a childhood divided. 

Wandering Time: Western Notebooks

Fleeing a failed marriage and haunted by ghosts of his past, Luis Alberto Urrea jumped into his car several years ago and headed west. He wandered the West from one year's Spring through the next. As nature opened his eyes, writing opened his heart. This is Urrea's own search for healing and redemption.
 

By the Lake of Sleeping Children

Luis Alberto Urrea's first book, Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border, was a haunting and unprecedented look at what life is like for those living on the Mexican side of the border, eking out only the barest of lives not far from the white sands and coral reefs of Southern California.

Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border

A compelling and unprecedented look at life on the other side of the border.  Despite the numbers of people crossing over to the U.S., hundreds more remain behind in abject poverty.  Urrea worked closely with them and provides a compassionate and candid account of their lives.
 

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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upcoming events

Border Cantos
Border Cantos Mar 31st 7 p.m. Bentonville, AR

Reading and talk at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Details here.

Bentonville, AR
Mar 31st
2017
7 p.m.
PEN/Faulkner Reading Series
PEN/Faulkner Reading Series Apr 7th 7:30 p.m. Folger Library, Washington DC

Proud to be part of the prestigious series in a reading with Laila Lalami and Shobha Rao. Tickets and details here

Folger Library, Washington DC
Apr 7th
2017
7:30 p.m.
Holyoke Big Read
Holyoke Big Read Apr 11th to Apr 12th Holyoke, MA

Celebrating the NEA Big Read and Into the Beautiful North in Holyoke, MA. Sponsored by the Mary Lyon Foundation, Holyoke has done some great events all year. Now we get to meet each other! Details here.

Holyoke, MA
Apr 11th to Apr 12th
2017
The Believer Lit Fest
The Believer Lit Fest Apr 21st to Apr 22nd Las Vegas, NV

Details to come

Las Vegas, NV
Apr 21st to Apr 22nd
2017
UCSB Reads Into the Beautiful North
UCSB Reads Into the Beautiful North Apr 24th 7:30 p.m. UC-Santa Barbara

Excited to meet the UCSanta Barbara students who are all reading Into the Beautiful North -- the first time UCSB has chosen a novel! Details here.

UC-Santa Barbara
Apr 24th
2017
7:30 p.m.