‘Happy forward moves’ to be showcased in “Queen of America”

Joanna Noel/Contributing Writer 

Pulitzer Prize finalist Luis Alberto Urrea will read from his latest book “Queen of America” at the Barnes and Noble Writers On the Bay reading series on Feb. 16.

Urrea, a member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame, is a novelist, poet and essayist known for his lyrical and sometimes brutal reflections on life along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“He is an entertainer and that’s why he’s been invited,” said Debra Dean, coordinator of the Writers on the Bay series.

According to Dean, it is one of those experiences where you just have to see, or in this case, hear for yourself. In fact, Dean is responsible for getting Urrea to come and read from his latest novel. Knowing him personally has become one of the factors that allowed Dean to ask him as a favor to make an appearance, Dean said.

“He is known all over the world, and we are lucky to get him,” Dean said.

This will be his first time visiting FIU, but he’s been in Miami before for the annual Book Fair. He will also be visiting a few other schools on his tour including Calvin College and Lehigh University. He is also a distinguished professor of Creative Writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

His previous book, “The Hummingbirds Daughter,” a historical novel, is the prequel to “Queen of America,” despite different writing elements.

“It’s a personal favorite because I feel I made some happy forward moves in my writing. It is, by nature of the milieu, different from its predecessor. Yet it still trods the pathways of the former book,” Urrea wrote in the “About the Book” section of his website.

It tells the story of Teresa Urrea, sometimes known as the Saint of Cabora and the Mexican Joan of Arc. After the bloody Tomochic rebellion, Teresita flees with her father to Arizona. Their plans are derailed when she once again is claimed as the spiritual leader of the Mexican Revolution. He has written books in multiple different genres including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and anthology. Multiple critics have given good views about the book including Publishers Weekly.

The Publishers Weekly statement said, “Each scene in ‘Queen of America’ unfurls gracefully, like delicate wisps of smoke. It will spark fire in readers’ hearts.”

Luis Alberto Urrea will speak at 8 p.m. at the Biscayne Bay Campus bookstore.

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