Luis Alberto Urrea — What Borders Are Really About, and What We Do With Them


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Luis Alberto Urrea — What Borders Are Really About, and What We Do With Them

A border as liminal space, an imposed metaphor on the family, a place of crossing, a place of pressure. “There is no them. There is only us.” The fullness of what it is to be Mexican (and American). Evolving into enjoying each other more.

The wonderful writer Luis Alberto Urrea says that a deep truth of our time is that “we miss each other.” We have this drive to erect barriers between ourselves and yet this makes us a little crazy. He is singularly wise about the deep meaning and the problem of borders. The Mexican-American border, as he likes to say, ran straight through his parents’ Mexican-American marriage and divorce. His works of fiction and non-fiction confuse every dehumanizing caricature of Mexicans — and of U.S. border guards. The possibility of our time, as he lives and witnesses with his writing, is to evolve the old melting pot to the 21st-century richness of “us” — with all the mess and necessary humor required.

Luis Alberto Urrea is an English professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has published in nearly every genre, including nonfiction, memoir, short stories, historical novels, poetry, and even an award-winning mystery story, and has been called a “literary badass.” His many books include “Into the Beautiful North,” “The Devil’s Highway,” “The Hummingbird’s Daughter,” “The Tijuana Book of the Dead and The House of Broken Angels.”

Find the transcript for this show at

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