José Ángel N.
Monday, January 15th
Author José Ángel N. will read from his memoir, the valiant story of a man living the American dream — illegally.
“With great eloquence and pathos, N. draws on his daily life and references philosophers from Socrates to Kant to describe the netherworld of the undocumented.” — Booklist
Arriving in the 1990s with a 9th grade education, N. traveled to Chicago where he found access to ESL and GED classes. He eventually attended college and graduate school and became a professional translator.
Despite having a well-paying job, N. was isolated by a lack of official legal documentation. Travel concerns made big promotions out of reach. Vacation time was spent hiding at home, pretending that he was on a long-planned trip. The simple act of purchasing his girlfriend a beer at a Cubs baseball game caused embarrassment and shame when N. couldn’t produce a valid ID. A frustrating contradiction, N. lived in a luxury high-rise condo but couldn’t fully live the American dream. He did, however, find solace in the one gift America gave him – his education.
N’s story represents the triumph of education over adversity. He debunks the stereotype that undocumented immigrants are freeloaders, uninterested in education or opportunity for advancement. With bravery and honesty, he details the constraints, deceptions and humiliations that characterize alien life “amid the shadows.”alphabet city, city of asylum, reading