Book Prize Recipient, 2018

Lauren Markham, the author of The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life, is the 2018 recipient of The Ridenhour Book Prize.

In The Far Away Brothers, Markham tells the story of identical twin brothers, Ernesto and Raúl Flores, who grew up in rural El Salvador in the aftermath of that country’s civil war.

When seventeen-year-old Ernesto is threatened by brutal gangs in the region, the brothers flee to California to build new lives. Markham follows them on their harrowing journey — across the Rio Grande, through the Texas desert, into the hands of immigration authorities and, ultimately, to their older brother’s custody in Oakland.
In Markham’s important look at contemporary immigration and the migrant experience, she provides a nuanced portrait of Central America’s child exodus and critiques American immigration policy.

The twins, while working to pay their coyote debt, navigate a new language, a new school, and appear before a judge in immigration court — all while facing the triumphs and pitfalls of life as American teenagers.

Markham, a Northern-California based writer and reporter, is a contributing editor to VQR who primarily covers youth, migration, youth, the environment, her home state of California, among topics. Her essays, fiction and journalism have appeared in outlets including as The Guardian, Orion, Guernica, Harper’s, The New Republic, and VQR, where she is a Contributing Editor. ​In addition to writing, she works at a high school for immigrant youth in Oakland, California.

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