Valeria Luiselli may become the first Mexican writer to win a National Book Critics Circle Award. On Monday, NBCC announced the finalists for this year’s ceremony, and Luiselli’s poignant book Tell Me How It Ends made the cut under the criticism category. Tell Me How It Ends tells the story of unaccompanied Central American minors who arrived in the United States after fleeing gang violence. In the book, Luiselli uncovers the process for children seeking asylum through her work as an interpreter. Taking the structure of the intake questionnaire, she expands on the reasons they came to the United States and whether they had any trouble with crime in their native countries.
This is Luiselli’s second NBCC nomination (she earned a nomination in 2016 for The Story of My Teeth. At that time, she was merely the second Mexican author to make it to the last round. Though Juan Felipe Herrera won an NBCC award in 2008 for poetry, he is a US-born writer with ties to Mexico. The awards will take place March 15, 2018, where Carmen Maria Machado will receive the John Leonard award for her debut book, Her Body and Other Parties.