Photo: Dale Robbins

Luis Alberto Urrea


Luis Alberto Urrea is a prolific and acclaimed author of 14 books, including poetry, essays and novels.  Born in Tijuana, Mexico to a Mexican father and an Anglo mother, Urrea’s work is inspired by his cross-cultural upbringing and unique perspective of life on both sides of the border.

Urrea’s ability to explore the human element behind the tragic and intimate stories he tells of Mexican immigrants has won him much praise in the literary world.  His first book, Across the Wire, which draws from his experiences working with Tijuana garbage pickers as a missionary in his early 20’s, was named a New York Times Notable Book.

In 2000, Urrea was voted into the Latino Literature Hall of Fame after publishing his award-winning memoir Nobody’s Son: Notes from an American Life.  Among his most celebrated works is The Devil’s Highway, a revealing non-fiction account of 26 Mexican immigrants lost in the torrid, desolate Arizona desert. The book was a 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for non-fiction and a Kiriyama Prize winner.

Other notable works by Urrea include his national best-seller Into the Beautiful North, and The Hummingbird’s Daughter, a  Kiriyama Prize winner in fiction.  His most recent novel Queen of America, a sequel to The Hummingbird’s Daughter, was published in 2011.

Urrea earned his undergraduate degree in writing at the University of California at San Diego, and completed his graduate studies at the University of Colorado Boulder.  He has taught writing workshops at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Bay Community College and the University of Colorado.  Today he lives with his family in Naperville, Illinois, where he is a professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois at Chicago.