A Chronicle of Language, Faith, and Migration

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Pub Date 20 Jun 2023 | Archive Date 13 Jun 2023

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“One of the most thoughtful meditations on our nation’s immigration policy in recent memory." 
—The Boston Globe

A chronicle of translation, storytelling, and borders as understood through the United States' “immigration crisis”

In this powerful and deeply felt memoir of translation, storytelling, and borders, Alejandra Oliva, a Mexican-American translator and immigrant justice activist, offers a powerful chronical of her experience interpreting at the US-Mexico border.

Having worked with asylum seekers since 2016, she knows all too well the gravity of taking someone's trauma and delivering it to the warped demands of the U.S. immigration system. As Oliva's stunning prose recounts the stories of the people she's met through her work, she also traces her family's long and fluid relationship to the border—each generation born on opposite sides of the Rio Grande. 

In Rivermouth, Oliva focuses on the physical spaces that make up different phases of immigration, looking at how language and opportunity move through each of them: from the river as the waterway that separates the U.S. 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, seasoned interpreter Alejandra 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.
“One of the most thoughtful meditations on our nation’s immigration policy in recent memory." 
—The Boston Globe

A chronicle of translation, storytelling, and borders as understood through the United...

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ISBN 9781662601699
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Featured Reviews

Rivermouth was exactly what I needed to read about the immigration crisis because it showed clearly who was *actually* experiencing the crisis: immigrants themselves. This book is a call for reform at the highest levels down to individuals' thought processes. I can't possibly recommend it enough. It's only February and I've already put Rivermouth on my Best Books of the Year list.

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I love books that challenge our dominant narratives of place and belonging in relation to our world and this book is no different!

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Alejandra Oliva challenges readers by putting faces and stories to the "immigrant crisis". Rivermouth is part memoir and critique of the immigration system that stays with you.

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