Also of interest... in borderland stories
by Kapka Kassabova (Graywolf, $16)
“In a world ever more divided, we need more books like this,” said Alev Scott in the Financial Times. Poet and essayist Kapka Kassabova wandered her native Bulgaria to tease out its history as a crossroads between East and West, and her writing proves “moving and witty by turns.” She dwells too long on the spirituality of the border region, crossed by Cold War refugees once and by Syrian refugees today. But she’s “keenly” empathetic toward everyone she meets, from smugglers to border guards.
by Joe Tone (One World, $28)
Among the many recent books on the Mexico-U.S. drug trade, Bones stands out for its strong reporting and “firstrate” narrative, said Steven Weinberg in The Dallas Morning News. Author Joe Tone spent five years piecing together how the brother of a Mexican cartel kingpin rose from humble Texas mason to owner of champion quarter horses, and how the FBI built a money-laundering case against him. Tone didn’t find many willing witnesses, but his use of government documents “fills gaps impressively.”
The Far Away Brothers
by Lauren Markham (Crown, $27)
A reader can’t help but root for the “relentlessly likable” Salvadoran brothers featured in this harrowing real-life tale of their illegal immigration to the U.S., said Mark Kramer in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Fleeing gang violence, the teenage twins endure a “heartbreaking and traumatic” journey north, surviving as others die around them, then luck into being stopped by a kindly border officer. Though they’re not angels, “we come to hope that the capricious fates stay on their side.”
How I Became a North Korean
by Krys Lee (Penguin, $16)
The three teenage protagonists of this forceful novel cross paths just north of North Korea, each there for a different reason, said Alexander Chee in The New York Times. Yongju fled home after his father ran foul of Kim Jong Il; pregnant Jangmi sold herself into marriage; California-raised Danny is looking for his mother. Though narrative crosscutting is at first distracting, the book—now out in paperback— gains strength quickly, and provides a “compelling” window on both North and South Korea.