Describing in detail the “absurd circular nightmare” that is migration, Valeria Luiselli, a young Mexican academic in New York, takes a forced career break to translate for the “hundreds of thousands” of children frantically fleeing Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, not so much “in search of the American dream but to wake up from the nightmare into which they are born”.
Tracing “the map of violence related to drug trafficking” from Mexico to New York as gangs and “pandilleros” inflict unimaginable horrors, and cocaine travels North to an insatiable United States market, Luiselli pleads the case of the vulnerable.
Just as refugees from the Middle East would gladly stay put if the bombing stopped, Luiselli suggests those in power admit “historical participation in the circumstances that created the problem” – as opposed to blaming refugees.
There’s kind of a happy ending. Luiselli’s students, galvanized by her stories from the front line, get organised: “Prof! We gotta turn all our emotional s**t into political capital, Yo!” We do indeed.