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Author's Basque Roots Inform Debut Novel

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Gabriel Urza's debut novel, All That Followed, is generating a lot of national buzz. The author's name may be new to some, but his family's roots run deep in Nevada's Basque community — he's the grandson of renowned author Robert Laxalt. Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey caught up with Urza about his new book and connection to the Silver State.

 
 
"The book is a fictional account of a political kidnapping and killing that occurs in the Basque country in the late 1990s, and it's told from three points of view," says Urza. 

Urza says his novel is based on real events, including the assassination of a local politician. The author, who was raised in Reno by Basque descendants, spent some time in the Basque country during that pivotal time.

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Author Gabriel Urza.

  "I went to school in the Basque country from 1997 to 1998 when there was a lot of political violence occurring in the area," he says. "That (killing) for me had a big impact ... and it was also something that was very important to the Basque independence movement because, in a lot of ways, it turned popular sentiment against the movement."

Before writing, Urza spent his early career as an attorney in the Washoe County public defender's office, an experience that influenced the characters in his book.

The author also hails from a literary family, with his late grandfather, Robert Laxalt, a well known name in the Silver State. Laxalt wrote several books about Nevada's Basque heritage and founded the University of Nevada Press. 

"We discussed writing as a family quite a bit," says Urza. "I do remember talking with my grandfather about his book when he was still alive."

Julia Ritchey is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.