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.