Award-winning author Reyna Grande will be the special guest on Tuesday, July 12 at Centro Hispano of Dane County as they host a conversation about immigration in our community.

Author of two novels and a memoir, Grande will speak about her experience as an immigrant from Mexico in the United States and will read passages from her widely acclaimed memoir, The Distance Between Us. At a time when immigration politics are a boiling point in the United States, Grande is an important public voice for immigrants of every origin.

“We are so excited to be welcoming critically acclaimed author Reyna Grande to Centro as part of our effort to make sure we continue talking about the most significant policy issue affecting our families today – immigration reform,” Centro Hispano Executive Director Karen Menendez Coller tells Madison365.

Grande writes touching narratives about Mexicans whose lives change once they decide to reach or cross the border. Her novels, Across a Hundred Mountains, (Atria, 2006) and Dancing with Butterflies (Washington Square Press, 2009) were published to critical acclaim and have been read widely in schools across the country. In her latest book, The Distance Between Us, (Atria, 2012) Reyna writes about her life before and after illegally immigrating from Mexico to the United States. An inspirational coming-of-age story about the pursuit of a better life, The Distance Between Us will be republished by Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Division–Aladdin, as a young readers edition in the fall of 2016.

Grande is an award-winning novelist and memoirist and has received an American Book Award, the El Premio Aztlán Literary Award, and the International Latino Book Award. In 2012, she was a finalist for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Awards, and in 2015 she was honored with a Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature. Her works have been published internationally in countries such as Norway and South Korea.

Reyna Grande
Reyna Grande

“I’m personally excited, as well, because this is such a unique opportunity for our community that may not know enough about our families and their history to learn more about them and feel more connected and engaged to the type of work Centro does,” Menendez Coller says. “Our hope is that people will see and understand that the work we do here is vital to moving our community forward.”

Born in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico (where 43 college students disappeared in 2014), Grande was two years old when her father left for the U.S. to find work. Her mother followed her father north two years later, leaving Grande and her siblings behind in Mexico. In 1985, when Reyna was going on ten, she left Iguala to make her own journey north. She entered the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant, and later went on to become the first person in her family to graduate from college.

Grande’s talk will be followed by a reception and book-signing with the author. Spaces are extremely limited, Menendez Coller says. If you are interested in attending please e-mail [email protected]. Proceeds from this event will benefit the programs at Centro Hispano of Dane County.