The Kissing Bug: A True Story of a Family, an Insect, and a Nation's Neglect of a Deadly Disease

The Kissing Bug: A True Story of a Family, an Insect, and a Nation's Neglect of a Deadly Disease

by Daisy Hernández
The Kissing Bug: A True Story of a Family, an Insect, and a Nation's Neglect of a Deadly Disease

The Kissing Bug: A True Story of a Family, an Insect, and a Nation's Neglect of a Deadly Disease

by Daisy Hernández

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Overview

Winner of the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award

National Book Foundation Science + Literature Selection

Finalist for New American Voices Award and Lammy Award for Bisexual Nonfiction

A TIME, NPR, Chicago Public Library, Science for the People, WYNC, WBUR Radio Boston, and The Stacks Podcast Best Book of the Year

Longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award 

As heard on Fresh Air

Growing up in a New Jersey factory town in the 1980s, Daisy Hernández believed that her aunt had become deathly ill from eating an apple. No one in her family, in either the United States or Colombia, spoke of infectious diseases. Even into her thirties, she only knew that her aunt had died of Chagas, a rare and devastating illness that affects the heart and digestive system. But as Hernández dug deeper, she discovered that Chagas—or the kissing bug disease—is more prevalent in the United States than the Zika virus. 

After her aunt’s death, Hernández began searching for answers. Crisscrossing the country, she interviewed patients, doctors, epidemiologists, and even veterinarians with the Department of Defense. She learned that in the United States more than three hundred thousand people in the Latinx community have Chagas, and that outside of Latin America, this is the only country with the native insects—the “kissing bugs”—that carry the Chagas parasite.

Through unsparing, gripping, and humane portraits, Hernández chronicles a story vast in scope and urgent in its implications, exposing how poverty, racism, and public policies have conspired to keep this disease hidden. A riveting and nuanced investigation into racial politics and for-profit healthcare in the United States, The Kissing Bug reveals the intimate history of a marginalized disease and connects us to the lives at the center of it all.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781951142520
Publisher: Tin House Books
Publication date: 06/01/2021
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 519,175
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Daisy Hernández is a former reporter for The New York Times and has been writing about the intersections of race, immigration, class, and sexuality for almost two decades. She has written for National Geographic, NPR’s All Things Considered and Code SwitchThe Atlantic, Slate, and Guernica, and she’s the former editor of Colorlines, a newsmagazine on race and politics. Hernández is the author of the award-winning memoir A Cup of Water Under My Bed and co-editor of Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism. She is an associate professor at Miami University in Ohio.

Table of Contents

A Word She Whispers 1

In Search of My Family's Story

Palabras 7

The Apple 19

Bichos 27

Dr. Chagas 39

Peleas 49

It Sounds Worse in Spanish 61

Call It Grief 67

In Search of the Kissing Bug

Insectario 77

Austin State Hospital 89

Pharma Bro 97

Hunting for the Kissing Bug 103

The Military's Search 117

If Tía Had Known 127

In Search of Other Families

Falta 137

Janet and Her Baby 143

La Doctora 161

Candace 169

Maira 183

Carlos 199

Church Basement 213

The Great Epi Divide 225

Family History 235

Soatá 239

My Other Tía 251

Her Life 261

Gratitude 265

Notes 270

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