Francisco Cantú, former Border Patrol agent turned award-winning author, will speak at an afternoon gathering in Tubac on Friday, May 18. Cantú’s book The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border, has received high praise from diverse sources, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. PBS Newshour featured Mr. Cantú and his book earlier this year. The May 18th event will be at the Tubac Community Center, 50 Bridge Road. The public is invited. The gathering will start at 4:00 pm and Cantú will speak on the topic “Storytelling as Border Art.” More information is below.

Francisco (“Paco”) Cantú was born and raised in Arizona. In his book he tells the story of his time in the Border Patrol, in the desert and later at intelligence headquarters. His writing has been described as “lyrical and moving” (The Guardian), weaving his inner turmoil and affections with the outer realities of long nights and desperate people. When his dentist tells him that he is a “grinder”, his gig with BP is almost up. Cantú leaves the Agency to pursue a Masters in Fine Arts at the University of Arizona. The final portion of the book shifts the narrative as Cantú befriends José the custodian at the coffee shop where he works, leading to an anguishing and ultimately futile journey in the immigration muddle. .

The Wall Street Journal writes “Francisco Cantú’s new memoir, The Line Becomes a River,” veers away from propaganda and stereotypes and into the wild deserts and mountains, and especially, the hearts and minds of the people who traverse the increasingly militarized borderlands.” Other comments about the book are included below.

As a writer, Mr. Cantú received a Pushcart Prize and a 2017 Whiting Award. A former Fulbright fellow, 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.


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