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June 20, 2023 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Join us for an in-person book talk on Rivermouth: A Chronicle of Language, Faith, and Migration with author Alejandra Oliva and writer Carina del Valle Schorske. In this powerful and deeply felt polemic memoir, Oliva, a Mexican-American translator and immigrant justice activist, offers a chronological document of her experience interpreting at the US-Mexico border, and of the people she has encountered along the way. Tracing her family’s long and fluid relationship to the border, each generation born on opposite sides of the Rio Grande, and having worked on asylum cases since 2016, she knows all too well the gravity of taking someone’s trauma and delivering it to the warped demands of the American immigration system.

In Rivermouth, Oliva focuses on the physical spaces that make up different phases of immigration and looks at how language and opportunity move through each of them; from the river as the waterway that separates the US and Mexico, to the table as the place over which Oliva prepares asylum seekers for their Credible Fear Interviews, and finally, to the wall as the behemoth imposition that runs along America’s southernmost border. With lush prose and perceptive insight, Oliva encourages readers to approach the painful questions that this crisis poses with equal parts critique and compassion. By which metrics are we measuring who “deserves” American citizenship? What is the point of humanitarian systems that distribute aid conditionally? What do we owe to our most disenfranchised?

As investigative and analytical as she is meditative and introspective, sharp as she is lyrical, and incisive as she is compassionate, in Rivermouth, Oliva argues for a better world while guiding us through the suffering that makes the fight necessary and the joy that makes it worth fighting for.


Alejandra Oliva is an essayist, translator, immigrant justice advocate, and embroiderer. She is a recipient of the 2022 Creative Nonfiction Whiting Grant. Her writing has been included in Best American Travel Writing 2020, was nominated for a Pushcart prize, and was honored with an Aspen Summer Words Emerging Writers Fellowship. She was the Franke Fellow at the Yale Whitney Humanities Center in 2022. Read more at olivalejandra.com.
Carina del Valle Schorske is a writer and translator of Puerto Rican literature. Her essays and criticism have been published in many venues including The Believer, Bookforum, and the New York Times Magazine, where she is a contributing writer. In 2022, she won a National Magazine Award for her cover story on social dancing in times of crisis. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from Columbia University. Her debut essay collection, The Other Island, was honored with a Whiting Nonfiction Grant in 2020 and is forthcoming from Riverhead Books.


June 20, 2023
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
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Violeta Parra Stage
320 West 37th Street
New York, 10018 United States
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