Luis Alberto Urrea

"What I really wanted to be was Jim Morrison. However, if I weren't a writer, I'd be dead."

Luis Alberto Urrea is a prolific and award-winning writer, a master storyteller who uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph.

Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and an American mother, Luis grew up in San Diego. Like so many great writers, Luis got his start in literature writing poems to impress girls in junior high. His early heroes were all rock stars, but not being especially musically gifted Luis chose to follow in the steps of his literary role models. “What I really wanted to be was Jim Morrison,” he has said “however, if I weren’t a writer, I’d be dead.”

The author of sixteen books, he has published extensively in various genres and has received many prestigious awards. The Devil’s Highway, his non-fiction account of a group of Mexican immigrants lost in the Arizona desert, won the Lannan Literary Award, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and was called, “the single most compelling, lucid, and lyrical contemporary account of the absurdity of U.S. border policy” by The Atlantic. His highly acclaimed historical novels; The Hummingbird’s Daughter and Queen of America together tell the epic story of Teresita Urrea, a great aunt who was a healer and Mexican folk hero. In 2017, his novel Into the Beautiful North was adapted into a production and was shown at theaters across the country. Luis’s latest, The House of Broken Angels, focuses on the passing of time, the inevitability of death, and border politics. In this novel, and all of his work, Luis encourages empathy and compassion for our shared humanity.

Throughout his career, Luis has established himself as a passionate and prolific voice urging readers to break down borders instead of putting up walls.

Bill Moyers and Luis Alberto Urrea on The Devil's Highway

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