Manuel Luis Martínez


Crossing is both the story of thirteen indocumentados crossing the border from Mexico to Texas in a boxcar and a modern-day allegory of the human condition. The story is told from the viewpoint of Luis, a sixteen-year-old boy eager to leave behind a past haunted by the death of his father. As a short journey stretches into days, Luis befriends an old man, Berto, who confesses a dark secret and says he is running from the devil, who he claims is also on board. As water runs out and their suffering intensifies and erupts in violence, it seems that Berto is right, that their collective fantasies of pursuing the American Dream have been manifested in the form of the demented and malevolent Pablo, their evil leader. As Luis descends into the delirium, he must confront the devil — the past he does not want to remember — to find the strength to survive.

“. . . a rebuke to the cold injustice of certain governments, to the profane geography of nations that all too often draw lines of exclusion and suffering across the silent but witnessing earth.” —Chicago Tribune

About the Author

Manuel Luis Martínez was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, descended from Mexican immigrants. He grew up listening to his grandmother's stories of immigration — the desire to arrive, to find a home and an identity. The idea for Crossing came after reading a newspaper account of thirteen undocumented workers left to suffocate in a refrigerator boxcar outside El Paso. He wondered what prompted these men to take such risks, to leave behind their families and homes for the slim chance of finding work in the United States. Currently Manuel Luis Martínez is a visiting professor in the English Department at Indiana University in Bloomington.