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Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives
     

Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives

by Peter Orner (Editor), Luis Alberto Urrea (Foreword by)
 

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Underground America tells the stories of men and women who have come to the United States seeking a better life for their families, only to be subjected to dehumanizing working conditions. Supporting myriad industries, these workers form an essential part of our economy — often by working the least desirable jobs without the most basic legal protections

Overview

Underground America tells the stories of men and women who have come to the United States seeking a better life for their families, only to be subjected to dehumanizing working conditions. Supporting myriad industries, these workers form an essential part of our economy — often by working the least desirable jobs without the most basic legal protections. Underground America allows this largely ignored part of our country to finally share its experiences.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

McSweeney's Voices of Witness series continues (following Voices of the Storm and Surviving Justice) with this collection of oral histories from undocumented immigrants, aka "illegal aliens": "We hear a lot about these people in the media... how they are responsible for crime... take our jobs... and refuse to speak English. But how often do we hear from them?" Culled from new interviews, the book's 24 subjects come from around the world (Mexico, China, South Africa, Colombia, Cameroon and others), each offering a vivid, personal, often wrenching and occasionally enraging first-person look into the immigrant experience, what editor and novelist Orner calls a "state of permanent anxiety." Roberto, for instance, details narrow brushes with government agents as well as the everyday dangers inherent to unregulated work: "Nectarines are covered in this dust that makes your skin itch... You wear gloves when you're picking them but, because of the sweat, your skin absorbs everything, right into the pores." Diana, from Peru, worked on Hurricane Katrina cleanup and reconstruction crews while living 20 or more to a house: "I still have spots on my legs... from the chemicals and insulation that came off the walls at those jobsites." Average news-watchers who think they have a grasp on the immigration debate may well find these stories, speaking for millions of invisible American residents, no less than revelatory.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Publisher
“In a time when history is told in cheap television reenactments, if at all, and personal tragedy is gobbled up in rapidly digestible magazine photos and reality shows, this project goes against the grain.”
Guardian

“Bold and heartbreaking.”
Miami SunPost

“Average news-watchers who think they have a grasp on the immigration debate may well find these stories, speaking for millions of invisible American residents, no less than revelatory.”
Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781934781166
Publisher:
McSweeney's Publishing
Publication date:
11/01/2008
Series:
Voice of Witness Series
Edition description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Peter Orner is the author of two novels, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo and Love and Shame and Love, as well as two collections of stories, Esther Stories and Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge. For the Voice of Witness series, Orner also co-edited Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives with Annie Holmes. Orner has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and holds a law degree from Northeastern University. He is currently a Professor of Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. He lives in Bolinas, California.

Luis Alberto Urrea was born in Tijuana, Mexico and is a member of the Latino Literature Hall of Fame. He is the author of numerous books, including The Hummingbird’s Daughter and The Devil’s Highway, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His latest novel is Into the Beautiful North. Urrea is a professor at The University of Illinois–Chicago.

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