Loteria is the Spanish word for lottery. It's also the name of a popular game in Mexico, similar to bingo. Loteria uses a deck of cards with colorful images. Each player has a board with a different set of pictures, and instead of calling out numbers on a ping pong ball, the dealer sings out a riddle for each picture. Mario Alberto Zambrano grew playing Loteria with his family in Houston. After a 17-year career as an international ballet dancer, he turned to the cards to help him write a novel about a Mexican-American girl trying to understand her place in the world. Zambrano talks with Diane about why he switched careers and the inspiration for his writing.
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Excerpted from "Loteria: A Novel" by Mario Alberto Zambrano. Copyright © 2013 Mario Alberto Zambrano. With permission of Harper Publishing.