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University Relations

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April 7, 2009
Contact: Janet Sharistanian, Department of English, (785) 864-4520.

Award-winning ‘Devil’s Highway’ author to lecture April 15 at KU

Luis Alberto Urrea

LAWRENCE — Award-winning author Luis Alberto Urrea will visit the University of Kansas to discuss his writing on immigration issues in the United States.

Urrea will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, at Alderson Auditorium in the Kansas Union. The event is free and open to the public. His book, “The Devil’s Highway,” is a nonfiction account of 14 Mexicans who died in the Arizona desert after crossing the U.S.-Mexican border. Urrea’s book details their battles with extreme heat, severe hypothermia and dehydration and the efforts of the U.S. Border Patrol to find and rescue them.

Marta Caminero-Santangelo, associate professor of English at KU and an expert on Latino/a literature, urged anyone with interest on the topic to attend the presentation.

“Luis Alberto Urrea is absolutely a must-read author for anyone interested in immigration and border issues,” she said. “His book ‘The Devil's Highway’ is a breathtaking and haunting account of deaths on the border, as gripping and finely crafted as a novel. KU is very lucky to be hosting his visit.”

“The Devil’s Highway” won the 2004 Lannan Literary Award and was a finalist for a 2005 Pulitzer Prize. It also was named best book of the year by the Kansas City Star, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and the Miami Herald.

Urrea is a professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois-Chicago and a member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame. He has written 11 books.

His nonfiction work includes his first book, “Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border,” which won the Christopher Award, and “By the Lake of Sleeping Children.” He won a1999 American Book Award for his memoir, “Nobody's Son: Notes from an American Life.” He also has received a Western States Book Award in poetry.

The New York Times described his most recent book, “The Hummingbird's Daughter,” as an epic novel that tells the story of a 19th century Mexican saint, peasant and revolutionary Teresa Urrea.

Urrea is coming to KU to give the 2009 American and British Lecture for KU’s Department of English. The lecture also is sponsored by the Hall Center for the Humanities, with additional support from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Center of Latin American Studies, the Latino/a Studies Minor, the Office of the Chancellor, the Office of the Provost and Continuing Education.


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