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Francisco Cantu

Francisco Cantú

November 16, 2021, 7:00PM, Mountainlair Ballrooms

Raised in the Southwest, and a student of US/Mexico relations, Francisco Cantú wanted to see the realities of the border up-close. He enlisted as a US border patrol agent in 2008 and spent the next four years working in the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. During blistering days and frigid nights, he and his partners apprehended migrants who were risking their lives to cross to a new country.

Haunted by his interactions with border-crossers and rattled by an inescapable proximity to violence, Cantú decided to return to civilian life, only to discover that the border had followed him home. When an immigrant friend traveled back to Mexico to visit his dying mother and didn’t return, Cantú found himself moved to uncover the entire story. His searing memoir, The Line Becomes a River depicts the cruelties the border creates, for Americans and Mexicans on both sides of the line.

Cantú speaks frankly, compassionately, and knowledgeably about the terror and tragedy of the migrants who risk and lose their lives attempting to cross the border. A master story-teller, he gives human faces to the nameless multitudes, and refutes the incendiary policy and rhetoric aimed at them.

This event is co-sponsored by the WVU Humanities Center and Campus Read.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Francisco Cantú is a writer, translator, and the author of The Line Becomes a River, winner of the 2018 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction. A former Fulbright fellow, he has been the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Whiting Award, and an Art for Justice fellowship. His writing and translations have been featured in The New Yorker, Best American Essays, Harper’s, and Guernica, as well as on This American Life. A lifelong resident of the Southwest, he now lives in Tucson, where he coordinates the Field Studies in Writing Program at the University of Arizona.