“Citizen Illegal is right on time, bringing both empathy
and searing critique to the fore as a nation debates the very
humanity of the people who built it.” —Eve Ewing, author of
this stunning debut, poet José Olivarez explores the stories,
contradictions, joys, and sorrows that embody life in the spaces
between Mexico and America. He paints vivid portraits of good kids,
bad kids, families clinging to hope, life after the steel mills,
gentrifying barrios, and everything in between. Drawing on the rich
traditions of Latinx and Chicago writers like Sandra Cisneros and
Gwendolyn Brooks, Olivarez creates a home out of life in the
in-between. Combining wry humor with potent emotional force, Olivarez
takes on complex issues of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and
immigration using an everyday language that invites the reader in.
Olivarez has a unique voice that makes him a poet to watch.