Praise for Rivermouth: A Chronicle of Language, Faith, and Migration by Alejandra Oliva
“I am fascinated by translation both in theory and practice and it is translation that serves as the foundation of this excellent book that is about borders, and migration and how migration experiences can be so different. It’s part memoir of growing up as the child of immigrants while working with migrants seeking asylum and harbor in the US. Oliva has prescient and deeply intelligent ideas throughout. It’s always a pleasure to see an excellent mind at work.” —Roxane Gay
“Oliva’s excellent debut recounts her experiences volunteering as a Spanish-English translator in an immigration detention center at the U.S.-Mexico border beginning in 2016….With uncut rage and breathtaking prose, Oliva edifies, infuriates, and moves readers all at once. This is required reading. “ —Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
“A timely book by a translator at America’s southern border, Rivermouth is one of the most thoughtful meditations on our nation’s immigration policy in recent memory. Oliva’s Kafkaesque portrayal of her work retelling the traumatic stories of migrants in English for asylum applications will linger long after you’re done reading.” —The Boston Globe
“Mexican-American translator and immigrant justice activist Alejandra Oliva is particularly situated to tell the stories of immigration at the US southern border. She has seen the suffering, the space and the struggles of the people firsthand as she interprets their words for them and now, their experiences for us.” —Karla J. Strand, Ms. Magazine
“Undeterred by complexity, Oliva presents an accessible narrative electrified by transcripts of official exchanges, raw with emotion, that lay bare the tragic inadequacy of a sterile bureaucratic setting to ever do justice to petitioners in any “credible threat interview.” —Sara Martinez, Booklist
“A graceful meditation on the unresolved traumas of life in a land where one is often not welcome . . . Evenhandedly and without sentimentality, Oliva urges that we can stand to be both more understanding and more generous.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Alejandra Oliva is an essayist, translator, immigrant justice advocate, and embroiderer. She is a recipient of the 2022 Creative Nonfiction Whiting Grant. Her writing has been included in Best American Travel Writing 2020, was nominated for a Pushcart prize, and was honored with an Aspen Summer Words Emerging Writers Fellowship. She was the Frankie Fellow at the Yale Whitney Hummanities Center in 2022. Read more are olivalejandra.com.