Sonia Nazario, a projects reporter for the Los Angeles Times, has spent more than two decades reporting and writing about social issues, earning her dozens of national awards. The newspaper series upon which Enrique's Journey is based won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, the George Polk Award for International Reporting, and the Grand Prize of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards. Nazario grew up in Kansas and Argentina. She is a graduate of Williams College and has a master's degree in Latin American studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband.
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An interview with Sonia Nazario, first published in Publishers Weekly, reproduced with permission of the author.
What inspired you to take on the
story of Enrique's Journey?
A woman, Carmen, who would come and clean my house twice a month. She told me that she had four children that she had left behind in Guatemala and had not seen for 12 years. About a year later, her son made the journey to the United States and described to me El Tren de La Muerte, the Train of Death. I found it unbelievably moving: the story of children wanting, at all costs, to be with their mothers and going through these dangerous and terrifying worlds to reach them.
It sounds like your own research was pretty dangerous, too.
I wanted to put readers on top of the train with Enrique and to make them feel that they were alongside him. To do that, I had to retrace his journey myself. I did it the way he did it. Where he rode buses through Central America, I rode buses. And where he boarded the train in southern Mexico, I did, too. But there were times when I was afraid. There were too many close calls. There were times when I was filthy or I couldn't go to the bathroom for hours or was ...
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