Francisco Cantú (U.S.)

Saturday, February 17, 2018 @ 3:30 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.
Free RSVP 2018-02-17 3:30 p.m. 2018-02-17 4:45 p.m. America/New_York Francisco Cantú (U.S.) 40 W. North Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15212 Alphabet City

(1 hr. 15 min approximate run time) 

Join us for a reading with Francisco Cantú as he presents his new memoir The Line Becomes a River

At this moment of rhetoric and fury around the border, a voice like Cantú’s feels essential and urgent.

Parts of Cantú’s story were included in Best American Essays and were the focus of an episode of This American Life. In bestowing a 2017 Whiting Award upon him, the judges called his writing “an urgent moral report [that] shows us just how much there is to learn about this contested land…seldom does a writer of such depth and passion come along to explore the place he calls home.”

For Cantú, the border is in the blood. His mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest and the national parks where she worked as a ranger, driven to protect the places she loved. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners are posted to remote regions crisscrossed by drug routes and smuggling corridors, where they learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive. 

The Line Becomes a River interlaces Cantú’s haunting personal experiences with ruminations on the nature of borderlines, grappling at once with some of the largest political and social questions facing America today and the intimate stories of the hopeful and desperate who set out on a perilous crossing that many will not survive. Cantú challenges us to hear, absorb, and question the politics, policies, and ingrained ideas of borders that not only derail countless migrants’ lives and tear apart their families but do violence to the humanity of us all.


Francisco Cantú served as an agent for the United States Border Patrol from 2008 to 2012, working in the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. A former Fulbright fellow, he is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a 2017 Whiting Award. His writing and translations have been featured in Best American Essays, Harper’s, n+1, Orion, and Guernica, as well as on This American Life. He lives in Tucson.

Event Details

February 17, 2018 @ 3:30 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.
40 W. North Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15212

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