Reading Together 2012 Blog

Podcasts: More from (and about) Kankakee

Luis Urrea is a compelling speaker. His style is frank and unassuming, yet modest and refreshingly upbeat. Last time, I wrote about hearing a conversation with Urrea on the National Endowment for the Arts blog, “Art Works.

Here are some follow-up podcasts that should help provide a little additional context for his upcoming appearance(s) in Kalamazoo… Enjoy.

Podcast: Kankakee Public Library, January 26, 2006


Kankakee Public Library (another KPL!) in Kankakee, Illinois, offers the audio portion of Luis Urrea’s program when he first visited the library on January 26, 2006. Urrea discusses his early writings; The Devil’s Highway and Hummingbird’s Daughter, along with then (and still) timely issues of immigration and growing up in a Mexican family. Urrea was so moved by this visit to Kankakee and the story of its library that it prompted him to write an article for the New York Times, “Kankakee Gets Its Groove Back.”

Podcast: Kankakee Public Library, May 20, 2009


Urrea returned to Kankakee Public Library on May 20, 2009 for the launch of his (then) latest novel, Into the Beautiful North. During this discussion, Urrea speaks about Kankakee’s place in Into the Beautiful North and reads excerpts from the book. The program includes an introduction by Julia Sandstrom, whose mother, Mary Jo Johnston, was the Kankakee librarian who so inspired Urrea. Urrea shares more about his first experiences in Kankakee, his resulting friendship with Mary Jo, and how Kankakee found its place in his writing.

Podcast: BlogTalkRadio, November 29, 2011


During this half-hour podcast/radio show recorded for BlogTalkRadio in November 2011, Luis Urrea discusses his current book, Queen of America. Urrea tells listeners about his great aunt, who happens to be the main character of the book, and her experiences as a “back door” immigrant in New York City during the early 20th century. One caller during the program was Miriam Downey, a Kalamazoo-based blogger (The Cyberlibrarian Reads) who added a nice plug for Urrea’s Kalamazoo visit. The program is an interesting and timely conversation about the immigrant experience, writing, getting his first book published, and even Mexican food!

Don’t miss your chance to see and hear Luis Urrea in person, Tuesday, March 6th.


Luis Urrea at Kankakee Public Library