Luis Alberto Urrea, Master of Ceremonies


Luis Alberto Urrea is a prolific and award-winning writer, a master storyteller who has established himself as a passionate and prolific voice urging readers to break down borders instead of putting up walls. Having previously been a 2007 featured Literary Sojourn author, Urrea returns to the festival with a brand new novel, Good Night, Irene (releasing May 30), and as our 2023 Master of Ceremonies. NPR calls Urrea “a kind of literary badass … a master storyteller with a rock and roll heart.” Born in Tijuana, Mexico, to a Mexican father and an American mother, Urrea uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss and triumph. He has published 17 books, with critically acclaimed nonfiction, fiction, poems, essays and a graphic novel in his genre-bending repertoire. The Devil’s Highway, his nonfiction 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 sometimes known as The Saint of Cabora and the Mexican Joan of Arc. In all his work, Urrea encourages empathy and compassion for our shared humanity. In 2000, he was voted into the Latino Literature Hall of Fame.