The Humanities in Action: A Writer's Perspective on the Border

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Urrea will deliver the keynote address at URI’s annual Spring Humanities Festival, an event that brings together the community across disciplinary boundaries to celebrate the importance and relevance of the humanities. The event, which starts at 4 p.m., will be streamed live on College of Arts and Sciences social media sites.

Hailed by NPR as a “literary badass” and a “master storyteller with a rock-and-roll heart,” Urrea is a prolific and acclaimed writer who uses his dual-culture life experiences to explore greater themes of love, loss, and triumph. A 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction and member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame, Urrea is the critically acclaimed and best-selling author of 17 books, winning numerous awards for his poetry, fiction, and essays.

Into the Beautiful North, his 2009 novel, is a Big Read selection by the National Endowment of the Arts and has been chosen by more than 50 different cities and colleges—including URI—as a community read. The Devil’s Highway, Urrea’s 2004 nonfiction account of a group of Mexican immigrants lost in the Arizona desert, won the Lannan Literary Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Pacific Rim Kiriyama Prize.

Born in Tijuana to a Mexican father and American mother, Urrea is most recognized as a border writer, although he says, “I am more interested in bridges, not borders.” His fictional and nonfiction accounts of the borders, and bridges, between Mexico and the United States make him uniquely qualified to comment on immigration and identity in the Americas.