The author of the Pulitzer Prize finalist The Devil’s Highway is out with a new work of fiction. Luis Alberto Urrea‘s The House of Broken Angels focuses on a Mexican-American family, but the complicated and loving relationships it highlights comprise every family, no matter the country of origin. The story unfolds over a few days as friends and family members travel to a San Diego neighborhood to celebrate a birthday and a funeral. The family’s patriarch Big Angel is dying of cancer but wants to celebrate his birthday, likely his last. At the same time, his elderly mother dies in the weeks leading up to the birthday party. While it seems like such a birthday-funeral combination would be depressing, Urrea creates a joyful story that’s both funny and touching.
In this episode, Urrea talks about how his own family, particularly his brother Juan, inspired the book. His on-stage presentation in Aspen, Colorado, will make you, the listener, laugh and cry. He spoke as part of Winter Words, an author lecture series held by Aspen Words. Aspen Words is the literary program of the Aspen Institute.
Read more about the topics mentioned in this episode.
- At Readings, Luis Alberto Urrea Is Making His Fans Cry, The New York Times
- The House of Broken Angels Is a Love Song to the Mexican-American Family, TIME Magazine
- Despite A Sad Set-Up, ‘House of Broken Angels’ Hums With Joy, NPR
- Aspen Words Literary Prize 2018 Long List, Aspen Words
- Mohsin Hamid’s ‘Exit West’ Wins First-Ever Aspen Words Literary Prize, NPR
“Aspen Ideas to Go” is a weekly show featuring fascinating speakers who have presented at the Aspen Ideas Festival and other public programs offered by the Aspen Institute. For a curated listening experience, subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or find an archive of episodes here.