2 pm | SATURDAY, MARCH 31
The Line Becomes A River, is a bold and personal exploration of the U.S.-Mexico border – its politics, gatekeepers, and victims on both sides of the line – by 2017 Whiting Award winner and former U.S. Border Patrol agent Francisco Cantú. At this moment of rhetoric and fury around the border, a voice like Cantú’s feels essential and urgent. Join Francisco Cantú for a deeply intimate look at the U.S.-Mexico border.
About the Book
Parts of Cantú’s story were included in Best American Essays and were the focus of an episode of This American Life. In bestowing a 2017 Whiting Award upon him, the judges called his writing “an urgent moral report [that] shows us just how much there is to learn about this contested land…seldom does a writer of such depth and passion come along to explore the place he calls home."
For Cantú, the border is in the blood. His mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest and the national parks where she worked as a ranger, driven to protect the places she loved. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners are posted to remote regions crisscrossed by drug routes and smuggling corridors, where they learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive. The Line Becomes A River interlaces Cantú’s haunting personal experiences with ruminations on the nature of borderlines, grappling at once with some of the largest political and social questions facing America today and the intimate stories of the hopeful and desperate who set out on a perilous crossing that many will not survive. Cantú challenges us to hear, absorb, and question the politics, policies, and ingrained ideas of borders that not only derail countless migrants’ lives and tear apart their families but do violence to the humanity of us all.
Praise for the Book
“A beautiful, fiercely honest, and nevertheless deeply empathetic look at those who police the border and the migrants who risk – and lose – their lives crossing it. In a time of often ill-informed or downright deceitful political rhetoric, this book is an invaluable corrective.”—Phil Klay
“Cantú’s story, and intelligent and humane perspective, should mortify anyone who ever thought building a wall might improve our lot. He advocates for clarity and compassion in place of xenophobia and uninformed rhetoric. His words are emotionally true and his literary sensibility uplifting.” –Barry Lopez
“If you think you know about immigration and the border, you will see there is much to learn. And you will be moved by its unexpected music.” –Luis Alberto Urrea
About the Author
Francisco Cantú served as an agent for the United States Border Patrol from 2008 to 2012, working in the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. A former Fulbright fellow, he is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a 2017 Whiting Award. His writing and translations have been featured in Best American Essays, Harper's, n+1, Orion, and Guernica, as well as on This American Life. He lives in Tucson.