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Speaker: Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, Author
Moderated by: Mariano Siskind, Professor, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Harvard University
At a time when the fabled American Dream is turning into a nightmare for so many, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio's searing debut, The Undocumented Americans, is an incandescent and fearless indictment against the dark systemic forces of racism and immigration injustice. Part memoir, part journalism, part testimonio, The Undocumented Americans looks well beyond the flashpoints of the border or the activism of the Dreamers, and allows the individuals profiled to be seen more fully and felt more compassionately as vibrant, complex, and dignified human beings. In her relentlessly probing voice, Karla Cornejo Villaviencio combines sensitive reporting with her own experiences as an undocumented writer to show the love, magic, heartbreak, insanity, and vulgarity that infuse the day-to-day lives of housekeepers in Miami, Ground Zero cleanup workers in New York City, day laborers in Staten Island, families facing deportation in Ohio and Connecticut, and immigrants in Fint, Michigan who struggle to access life-saving
With the publication of her debut book, The Undocumented Americans, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio became the first undocumented finalist for a National Book Award. Her book was also named by Barack Obama as one of his favorite books of 2020 and was selected as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, Time, NPR, The New York Public Library, Book Riot, Vulture, and the Library Journal. Karla has written about immigration, music, beauty, and mental illness for The New York Times, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Glamour, Elle, Vogue, n+1, and The New Inquiry, among others. She lives in New Haven with her partner and their dog. She is a graduate of Harvard University and a doctoral candidate in the American Studies program at Yale.
The Arts and Humanities series fosters scholarly discussions centered on the work of leading academics in the fields of the Arts and Humanities.