Manuel Luis Martinez, Author Bilingual Press/Editorial Biling-Ue $11 (120p) ISBN 978-0-927534-80-2
Inspired by the story of 13 undocumented immigrants who were left to suffocate in a boxcar outside El Paso, Mart nez's occasionally stilted but harrowing debut tells the story of 16-year-old Luis, who leaves his impoverished native village in Mexico for the U. S. and finds himself caught by a ""coyote,"" or immigrant-smuggler, in a deadly swindle. By the end of his journey north, locked with 12 other men in a train car, Luis will have witnessed several crossings: from one country to another, from one life to another, from child to adult, from home to hell, from life to death. As the car gathers allegorical significance and the men face death by thirst, Mart nez shows us the paths that have led them to their little hell on wheels. Unfortunately, the novel's language feels as sapped of energy as the trapped men, and the story rolls on about as slowly as the train. Yet the simplicity of the premise and of Mart nez's prose allows moments of poignancy and captures the characters' deadly struggle, with thirst and one another, to survive. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
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