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Recent Work, News & Updates

Saturday
Nov102018

The Caravan & Climate Change

"Climate change may not be the reason people name when asked why they leave their homes behind and head out into the unknown, but it is an immensely complicating factor, and sometimes a final straw. People don’t always know what has caused their homes to become unlivable—what historical, political, and economic nuances have made it possible for the gangs to grow like weeds and for the dead to pile up in the morgues and for the fields to dry up—but when the stakes are this high, they rarely stick around to find out."

My recent piece for Sierra about the impacts of climate change on migration from Central America. 

Saturday
Nov102018

Root Causes of Migration

Here's a recent opinion piece I wrote in the Toronto Globe and Mail about how even Trump's cruelest attempts to "crackdown" on immigration (and change the very nature of immigration law) will do nothing to deter people fleeing desperate conditions in their homelands. 

Photo by Jose Cabezas - Sandra and her son, Angel, have been staying at the Todo por Ellos migrant shelter in Tapachula since June. She left behind her husband, a gang member, out of fear that her children would inherit the gang life or be killed.

Sunday
Oct282018

Migration in the Age of Trump 

Here's my most recent piece on Central American migration for Politico Magazine, with great thanks to the Pulitzer Center for funding support and to my collaborator, photographer Jose Cabezas (whose stunning photos are included within and below).

Photos by Jose Cabezas

Sunday
Oct282018

Intellectual Freedom Award, National Council for Teachers of English

Thank you to the California Council for Teachers of English and the National Council for Teachers of English for awarding me a 2018 Intellectual Freedom Award. As an educator, this brings me great honor and great joy. 

 

Thursday
Oct042018

The School Formerly Known as LeConte: How do we agree upon what to rename a school? 

Here's an article I wrote in Lapham's about the controversy and challenge of renaming a school/building/landmark/institution whose name has problematic provenance, and the remarkable process the Berkeley Unified School District designed to come up with a new name for an old school.

It's a story about who are heroes are and who gets to decide, and our need to cast a wider net to lift up forgotten or unrecognized heroes from the swamp of the past. Bonus - I finally got to write about one of my favorite Berkeley archetypes: the amped vegan (or corollary) who shuts down the progressive talk because the rest of us aren't progressive enough.

Wednesday
Sep122018

Review in El Faro

Thanks to El Faro for this lovely, generous review of The Far Away Brothers. I admire El Faro's work tremendously, and relied on their dogged, masterful reporting for key sections of my book. 

Sunday
Jul292018

"An American Nightmare"

Thank you, deeply, to The New York Review of Books for this stunning, generous review of The Far Away Brothers.

"Lauren Markham is everything that Donald Trump is not—empathetic, honest, painstakingly factual, thoughtful, and fair. Her beautifully written book, The Far Away Brothers, follows Ernesto and Raúl Flores, seventeen-year-old twins, from a Salvadoran village ruled by gangsters from MS-13 to a high school in Oakland, where she served as their counselor. It can be read as a supplement to the current news, a chronicle of the problems that Central Americans are fleeing and the horrors they suffer in flight. But it transcends the crisis. Markham’s deep, frank reporting is also useful in thinking ahead to the challenges of assimilation, for the struggling twins and many others like them.

"As it relates to the border crisis, the story reinforces the liberal view: the boys, who arrived in the US in 2013, are running from violence, not just poverty. They are more like refugees than economic migrants, though legally they don’t qualify for refugee status. They’ve been through hell. But they are not the striving overachievers that supporters of immigration tend to envision. Their harrowing journeys have left them traumatized. They are volatile, distrustful, and depressed. Both screw up in school, neither learns much English, and one drops out and becomes a teenage parent. People wary of immigration could read the story as a cautionary tale of its risks and costs.

"It is a testament to Markham’s narrative skill that she keeps the reader pulling for her troubled characters while faithfully recording their blunders. They are just teens—two young men courageous enough to run from gang violence rather than join it. While they arrive in the US with the wounds of their journey, they also bring a ferocious work ethic. Markham’s reporting is intimate and detailed, and her tone is a special pleasure. Trustworthy, calm, decent, it offers refuge from a world consumed by Twitter screeds and cable news demagogues. The Far Away Brothers is a generous book for an ungenerous age."

Friday
Jul062018

Northern California Book Award

Honored to learn that The Far Away Brothers is this year's winner of the Northern California Book Award in Creative Nonfiction. Thank you, Northern California Book Reviewers & Poetry Flash!

Sunday
Jul012018

Climate Change & Forced Migration

My newest Opinion Piece in the New York Times on the intersection between climate change and forced migration (and how we need to get serious about both). 

 

 

Tuesday
Jun122018

California Book Award - Silver Medal

So honored that The Far Away Brothers was named the California Book Award Silver Medal in Nonfiction - alongside and in the wake of so many authors I admire. Thank you to the Commonwealth Club and the team of jurors, who had their work cut out for them. Basking in the home state love...