Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Writing 2019, an electrifying memoir from a Mexican-American US Border Patrol guard
‘Stunningly good… The best thing I’ve read for ages’
James Rebanks, author of The Shepherd’s Life
Francisco Cantú was a US Border Patrol agent from 2008 to 2012.
In this extraordinary account, he describes his work in the desert along the Mexican border. He tracks humans through blistering days and frigid nights. He detains the exhausted and hauls in the dead. The line he is sworn to defend, however, begins to dissolve. Haunted by nightmares, Cantú abandons the Patrol for civilian life – but he soon faces a final confrontation with the world he believed he had escaped.
‘A raw, compelling memoir… An eloquent rebuke to all those who look to build walls rather than bridges between people’
‘A must-read… A page-turning personal story that holds until the final page and wrenches long after’
‘Remarkable… Lyrical and moving’
"One of the perks of being a writer is you get sent proofs of books. Most are not for me but occasionally you get sent a gem. The Line Becomes a River is such a book. It is stunningly good. Beautiful, smart, raw, sad, poetic and humane… It’s the best thing I’ve read for ages"
"Lyrical and moving... Cantu describes the borderlands and his work there with a raw-nerved tenderness that seems to have been won from both the landscape and the violence he was implicated in. Told in three increasingly soul-searching parts, The Line Becomes a River frequently feels momentous... Remarkable"
"Tender, lyrical, and with a singular poise that is unsentimental and restrained, in prose as clear as desert air"
"[A] must-read memoir ... Cantú's skill as a writer proves an equal match for his material. A digestible account of US and Mexico relations, a nuanced portrait of Mexican cultural blessings and ills, The Line Becomes A River is a page-turning personal story that holds until the final page and wrenches long after."
"A raw, compelling memoir… The Line Becomes a River offers an eloquent rebuke to all those who look to build walls rather than build bridges between people."