I loved how during that week Urrea was everywhere, writing New York Times Op Eds, on FreshAir, and especially in all of our Chicago media [he teaches at UIC]. I am sure you had many requests for the book. While I loved this because I am a huge fan of Mr. Urrea's work [here's my review of a book I still think about and suggest all of the time, Into the Beautiful North], but I know first hand he is a wonderful person too.
How do I know? Because in 2013 I was asked to interview Mr Urrea for Fox Valley Reads. The details of the evening as well as more links to some of the planning documents are here and reposted at the end of this post.
Mr Urrea was amazing throughout this process. Not only did this event take place in Spanish and English, on two different days [I have a post here about how the Spanish interviewer and I worked together on this], but he also spent over an hour with me on the phone prior to the event so we could "get to know each other." He is smart, kind, and funny. And, I bet this comes as no shock, he is an amazing off-the-cuff storyteller.
While all of the marketing for The House of Broken Angels was happening, I kept flashing back to my interview with Urrea, and yesterday's post made me realize I should have reposted it for all of you too.
In keeping with the theme of using a new release to promote older material, take a look at this post from 2013.
But also, here is an updated diverse readalike list of authors for Urrea to help you provide pepole with books to read while they wait for The House of Broken Angels. First, you need to understand that while Urrea's plots focus heavily on the Mexican American immigrant experience, the reason his books have such a wide appeal is because they are about a duality of identity and being an outsider in general. So while a few of my titles and authors may be "Hispanic" not all of them are.
...Wait, now I need to do a mini rant for a second because that last sentence got me going....
Just because Urrea's books are "Mexican-American" in frame does not mean readers who like his books only want "Meixcan American" books. I HATE THIS. What readers love about Urrea is that he writes character centered stories with dramatic and bittersweet storylines, lyrical writing that is beautiful but still accessible, that heavily draw on the themes of identity and belonging. Yes for some the frame is intriguing, but not for everyone. Most lists with Urrea also have Sandra Cisneros too. Look, she's a good writer, but they ARE NOT THAT SIMILAR IN STYLE. You know why people put them together? Because they are Mexican. That is not helpful to anyone. We can open people up to a variety of authors from many walks of life who write similarly to Urrea who aren't Mexican American. It's not that radical people. It's what we already do for white writers.
....Okay, rant done, back to your regularly scheduled post...
Second, as I have been saying constantly these days- truly diverse lists don't only have POC or LGBTQIA authors, they have a sampling of everyone. You can see my recent updated Stephen King diverse readalike author list for more on that.
So here is a great list of other authors who come from a variety of backgrounds but like Urrea write character centered stories with dramatic and bittersweet storylines, lyrical writing that is beautiful but still accessible, that heavily draw on the themes of identity and belonging:
- Junot Diaz
- Louise Erdrich
- Jennifer Clement
- Carol Rifka Brunt
- Viet Thanh Nguyen
- Toni Morrison
- Colson Whitehead
- Mohsin Hamid
- Jonathan Safran Foer
- Cristina Henriquez