All posts tagged: Tell Me How It Ends

Excerpt from Tell Me How It Ends


This piece is excerpted from Tell Me How It Ends by Valeria Luiselli, a guest at Amherst College’s 2023 LitFest. Register for this exciting celebration of Amherst’s literary life.

Valeria Luiselli's headshot: brown woman in a blue jacket against a metal grate.

“Why did you come to the United States?” That’s the first question on the intake questionnaire for unaccompanied child migrants. The questionnaire is used in the federal immigration court in New York City where  I started working as a volunteer interpreter in 2015. My task there is a simple one: I interview children, following  the intake questionnaire, and then translate their stories  from Spanish to English. 

But nothing is ever that simple. I hear words, spoken in the mouths of children, threaded in complex narratives. They are delivered with hesitance, sometimes  distrust, always with fear. I have to transform them into  written words, succinct sentences, and barren terms.  The children’s stories are always shuffled, stuttered,  always shattered beyond the repair of a narrative order.  The problem with trying to tell their story is that it has  no beginning, no middle, and no end. 

Excerpt from Tell Me How It Ends