Bestselling Author Luis Alberto Urrea and Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Perla Batalla kick off 2012 Great Read

April 19, 2012

Contact: Lisa Consiglio
Executive Director
Aspen Writers’ Foundation
970-925-3122, ext. 1# |

 Great Read launch event, Letras y Liricas, takes place Thursday, May 10 at PAC3

April 19, 2012 –– Pulitzer Prize finalist Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil’s Highway and The Hummingbird’s Daughter, and celebrated singer/songwriter Perla Batalla (Bird on a Wire) will take the stage at PAC3 Thursday, May 10 for Letras y Liricas, a lively evening of discussion and music in honor of the 2012 Great Read community-wide reading initiative. Presented by the Aspen Writers’ Foundation (AWF), Letras y Liricas begins at 6pm (doors at 5:30pm). The festivities include a cash bar and light Mexican fare provided by English in Action. Tickets are $20 ($15 for students and educators) and are available from or 970.925.1663. Group discounts are available by calling 925-3122, ext. 4#.

The Great Read is an Aspen Writers’ Foundation initiative designed to get as many people as possible reading and talking about the same literary works at the same time. This spring, the Great Read shines a spotlight on modern Latin America and the Caribbean through a sampling of short fiction, narrative nonfiction, poetry, and song, centered on themes of immigration, assimilation, and alienation. The 2012 Great Read reading list (below) features authors Luis Alberto Urrea, Edwidge Danticat, and Gioconda Belli, as well as the songs of Perla Batalla. The program continues into June, culminating with the 2012 Aspen Summer Words Literary Festival, titled Solazú: Celebrating the Stories of Latin America and the Carribbean  (June 17 – 22). Reading list selections are available at libraries and bookstores throughout the Roaring Fork Valley or via the AWF website at

“We are so excited to launch this year’s Great Read with Luis Urrea and Perla Batalla, two luminous talents in their respective fields of writing and music,” says AWF executive director Lisa Consiglio. “With a sampler menu of long and short works to choose from, the Great Read reading list should have something for everyone.”

Running concurrently with the Great Read is the Little Read, a campaign sponsored by Kids First and Raising a Reader, in partnership with the AWF. The Little Read exposes hundreds of pre-school age children from Aspen to Carbondale to Great Read themes by hosting Read with Me story hours at local libraries and childcare facilities. 2012 Read with Me dates are May 9 and 10. (More information on the Little Read available by calling 970.230.9117.)

2012 Great Read Reading List
BOOK – The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea
BOOK EXCERPT – The Devil’s Highway: chapter “Killed by the Light
SHORT STORY – “Children of the Sea by Edwidge Danticat from the story collection Krik! Krak! (Available for download from the AWF website)
POEM – “In the Language of Memory: The Spanish Conquest” by Gioconda Belli (available for download from the AWF website)
SONGS – by Perla Batalla

Letras y Liricas event details:
Who:               Bestselling author Luis Alberto Urrea and Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Perla Batalla
Where:            PAC3 at Third Street Center, Carbondale 
When:             Thursday, May 10, 6pm (doors open at 5:30)
Tickets:  or 970.925.1663, $20 regular, $15 students and educators, group discounts available by calling 925-3122 ext.4#

About the Great Read
Now in its fourth year, the Great Read is a collaborative campaign between the Aspen Writers’ Foundation and local partner organizations including libraries, schools and bookstores. The goal of the Great Read is to get as many people as possible reading and talking about the same works of literature at the same time. Previous Great Read selections include Bless Me, Ulitima by Rudolfo Anaya; To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee; and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

About the Artists
Luis Alberto Urrea is the author of 14 books including The Devil’s Highway, a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, and The Hummingbird’s Daughter, winner of the Kiriyama Prize. His first book, Across the Wire, was named a New York Times Notable Book and won the Christopher Award. His memoir, Nobody’s Son: Notes from an American Life, won a 1999 American Book Award. In 2000, he was voted into the Latino Literature Hall of Fame following the publication of his book of poetry Vatos. Urrea’s novel, Into the Beautiful

North, was a recent national bestseller and has been chosen by more than 30 different cities and colleges for One Book community read programs. Other works by Urrea include Six Kinds of SkyThe Fever of BeingBy the Lake of Sleeping ChildrenMr. Mendoza’s PaintbrushIn Search of SnowGhost SicknessWandering Time, and his latest novel Queen of America. Luis Urrea lives with his family in Naperville, Illinois.

Grammy nominated vocalist, composer, and arranger Perla Batalla first gained international attention as a backup singer for Leonard Cohen. In 1994 she released her eponymous debut album on the Warner/Discovery label. The critics hailed her singing as “sublime” and her talent “stunning.” selected her second album, Mestiza, released in 1998 on her own Mechuda Music label, as Best Independent Release of the Year. In 2000, following the release of Heaven and Earth, Batalla was named Amazon’s Emerging Artist of the Year. Both Mestiza and Heaven and Earth celebrate a powerful civilization born from the explosive marriage of separate worlds, a resplendent, vibrant culture nourished by mysticism, imagery, magic, and mythology. Next came Discoteca Batalla, an innovative undertaking of contagious rhythm named for her parents’ Spanish language record shop in Los Angeles. A collection of original compositions interspersed with traditional Spanish language classics and arranged to reflect Batalla’s rich bicultural personal and musical heritage, Discoteca Batalla has appeared on “Best of” lists throughout the country. In January 2012, Batalla premiered newly commissioned works in celebration of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art exhibition, In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the U.S.

For more information, visit the AWF website at, or contact Julie Comins Pickrell at or 970.274.2352.

The Aspen Writers’ Foundation (AWF) was founded in Aspen in 1976 as a cutting edge poetry conference and literary magazine. Today the Aspen Writers’ Foundation is one of the nation’s leading literary centers and a stage for the world’s most prominent authors, reaching over 1,150,000 literary enthusiasts globally. AWF programs employ literature as a tool for provoking thought, broadening perspectives, fostering connections, inspiring creativity, and giving voice. Since 2009, the AWF has partnered with the Aspen Institute, underscoring the highest humanistic ideals of Aspen Institute founder Walter Paepcke: to better understand human challenges by cultivating one’s inner life through the exchange of words, stories, and ideas.

The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways: seminars, young-leader fellowships around the globe, policy programs, and public conferences and events. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has an international network of partners.


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