A poignant critique on the U.S. Immigration system by Mexican author Valeria Luiselli entitled ‘Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions’ has won this year's American Book Award.
Distributed to both English and Spanish readers, the collection of short stories was published to its Latin audience under the title 'Los Niños Perdidos' (The Lost Children).
Luiselli opens with her own personal experience as a translator with the New York Immigration Court, defending immigrant children.
The author then delves into the complicated legal process thousands of migrant children face daily as well as the "40 questions" which determine the fate of their asylum requests.
The author said that as a translator, question number seven is among the most difficult: 'Did anything happen on your trip to the United States that scared you or hurt you?'
"When I have to ask that seventh question, all I want to do is cover my face and ears and disappear," Luiselli said, noting that very few children actually share the details of their journey.
"The reality is that we do not know how many of the children who leave their countries arrive in the United States. For example, in no more than a year, there was a record of 11,333 kidnappings, those are the ones that are registered, 200 thousand Central Americans disappeared. We find common graves every week."
Born in Mexico City in 1983, Luiselli has advocated for migrant rights in both the United States and Mexico, noting that the risks faced by migrants are almost impossible to calculate.
"It is not even the American Dream that they pursue, but rather the more modest aspiration to wake up from the nightmare into which they were born," the author writes.
'Tell Me How it Ends' veers between expectations and the harsh reality many Central American migrants encounter after crossing the Mexican-U.S. border.