These 'True Tales' Add Nuance To The Immigration Discussion President Obama announced an executive action on immigration this week. For an in-depth look at the issue, author Gustavo Arellano recommends two nonfiction collections about Mexican immigrants.


These 'True Tales' Add Nuance To The Immigration Discussion

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Now immigration through the lens of literature. For this week's must-read, author Gustavo Arellano recommends two nonfiction collections that focus on the experiences of Mexican immigrants.

GUSTAVO ARELLANO, BYLINE: When you only have a few minutes to hear someone's story, they often seem cliched. And I always wonder, who are these people really? I know they're not one-dimensional saints and sinners. That's why recommend the writer Sam Quinones and his two collections. One is "True Tales From Another Mexico." The other is "Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream." Read them both. You'll see something rare. His migrant characters are brilliant, maddening, flawed and very human. I think nuance and complexity form the big beautiful heart of Mexican immigration, he writes. They are what I seek. And he found such good stories - mexicans transforming small Midwestern towns, corrupt politicians perverting democracy, a man who came to this country illegally and became a millionaire and a short Oaxacan named Zeus Garcia playing basketball like Jordan and Magic. Zeus' team was the best in the Zapoteco region of Oaxaca, Quinones writes, though no player was over five-foot nine. Their practices consisted of running uphill for two hours every day with bike tire tubes filled with sand tied around their ankles. These chapters flow like magical realism. But Quinones used to be a crime reporter and his sharp prose keeps marching forward toward an important truth. These flawed human saints and sinners aren't leaving, even though many of them may want to. America's promise gives them visions bigger than those they left behind. It's a situation that, Quinones concludes, has enough irony for a Chekhov story.

SIEGEL: That was writer Gustavo Arellano. He is editor of OC Weekly and author of "Taco USA." The books he recommends are "Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream" and "True Tales From Another Mexico" by Sam Quinones.

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