The Los Angeles City Council Thursday marked the start of Literacy and Poetry Month and this year’s citywide “Big Read” of Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Luis Alberto Urrea‘s book, “Into the Beautiful North.”

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who hosted the literacy month and Big Read presentation, read a passage from the book and recommended others also pick it up.

“I urge everyone to read this incredible book,” O’Farrell said.

The novel chronicles the adventures of Nayeli, a young woman who lives in a Mexican village where most of the men have gone north to work in the United States.

The town in the book is based on Urrea’s father’s hometown of Rosario, Sinaloa, and the characters are modeled after people the author knew, including his aunt, “who was Mexico’s female bowling champion” and died in 1996 while doing what she loved, the author said during the City Hall presentation.

“The novel came from reporting that I had been reading about the towns in Mexico being bereft of men, because men of a certain age had come north, and women were starting to take control of some of these towns — first mayor, first police chief, first school director, even first projectionist in a movie theater,” Urrea said.

Events are scheduled throughout the city, including art classes, film screenings and panel discussions, O’Farrell’s said.

More information about the Big Read program is at

— City News Service

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