michael nava composite copy

Michael Nava: Reading and Signing for CITY OF PALACES

« Back to Events
This event has passed.
Michael Nava: Reading and Signing for CITY OF PALACES
April 22, 2014 6:30 PM
April 22, 2014 9:00 PM
646 457 0859
April 2, 2014
Bureau of General Services–Queer Division
646 457 0859
Google Map
83A Hester St., New York, NY, 10002, United States
michael nava composite copy

Join Michael Nava for a reading and signing for his new novel City of Palaces

Please note: The Bureau is closed on Tuesdays, but we will open at 5:30 for this event, which will begin at 6:30.

Michael Nava, a third-generation Californian of Mexican descent, and the grandson of immigrants, was born in Sacramento. He was the first person in his family to attend college, graduating with a B.A. in history from the Colorado College.  He later received his law degree from Stanford University.

He began writing when he was 12 years old, around the same time he recognized that he was gay.  In his autobiographical essay Gardenland, a memoir of his childhood in the working-class Mexican neighborhood of the same name, he says he turned to writing because he was filled with words he was otherwise unable to express.

Until he was in his early twenties he studied and wrote poetry exclusively.  A selection of his poems was awarded the 1981 Chicano/Latino Literary Prize given annually by the University of California, Irvine. He began writing what became his first novel as a third year law student at Stanford.  That novel, The Little Death, was published in 1986 by Alyson Publications, a small gay press that accepted the book after 12 other publishers had rejected it.

The Little Death introduced readers to Henry Rios, a gay, Latino criminal defense lawyer based primarily in Los Angeles.  Six further Rios novels followed — Goldenboy (1988),  Howtown (1990),  The Hidden Law (1992),  The Death of Friends (1994),  The Burning Plain (1996), and Rag and Bone (2000).  Each new novel was greeted with wider and greater critical acclaim.  The books were awarded a total of six Lambda Literary Awards and in 2000 Nava was given the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement in gay and lesbian literature.  With Rage and Bone, Nava announced the end of his career as a mystery writer.

Beginning in 1995, Nava started researching a novel about the life of silent film star Ramon Novarro, a Mexican immigrant who came to Hollywood in 1915 after his family fled their homeland during the Mexican Revolution.  Novarro was one of the first generation of internationally famous movie stars, like Rudolph Valentino, Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin.  Nava was drawn to Novarro not only because of their shared ethnic heritage but also because it was an open secret in Hollywood that Novarro was gay.

At the same time, he became interested in the Yaquis, an Indian tribe that inhabited the northwest state of Sonora along the border with Arizona. In the late nineteeth century, the Mexico government began to forcibly evict the Yaquis from their ancient homeland, a lush river valley at the edge of the Sonoran desert, to make way for Mexican settlers.  But the Yaquis put up a fierce resistance and the Mexican government ultimately pursued a policy of extermination against the tribe that resulted in its virtual extinction.  Nava’s great-grandparents were among the few Yaquis who had survived by escaping to Arizona where his grandfather, Ramón, was born in 1905.

Eventually, these interests converged and he began to write a novel that would tell the story of the Mexican Revolution, the near-genocide of the Yaquis, and the rise of silent film.  Midway through his first draft, he recognized that this undertaking was too vast for a single book, so he conceived a series of novels called The Children of Eve, after the line in the Salve Regina addressed to Mary, the mother of Jesus:  “To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.”  The first novel in that series is The City of Palaces, which is set in Mexico City in the years before and at the beginning of the 1910 Mexican Revolution.

In addition to his novels, Nava has had a distinguished career as an appellate lawyer working primarily in the California court system including the California Supreme Court.  As a lawyer, he has been a tireless advocate for greater diversity in the legal profession.  A fuller biography of Michael Nava is available on Wikipedia. See also profile on

Nava is currently at work on the second book – as yet untitled –  in The Children of Eve series.