Indivisible by Daniel Aleman follows the story of Mateo, a teenager, who struggles to keep his family together when they are facing deportation.
After the ‘American Dirt’ debacle, and its unsympathetic publication, readers have been waiting to see real representation and stories about immigration, deportation, and what is to be an illegal citizen in a country that put a lot of effort to kick you out.
Many might use the word “alien,” but I refused to use it since I find it dehumanizing, which is just another stitch in the tapestry of social and human problems around deportation. Here in Inkish Kingdoms, as Latin people, we were ecstatic when Daniel Aleman announced the publication of Indivisible, a novel that looks to give a face and a voice to many authors and many stories that people must-read.
We are true believers in reading as a way to learn about other people’s struggles and to be empathetic towards others, and we are really excited to be able to share this interview about Daniel’s experience!
So let’s read this interview and let’s learn more about Indivisible by Daniel Aleman!
How important is the representation of immigration and deportation in literature? Do you think that this is the best way to give some reality to thousands of readers that might not understand what is to be an immigrant or part of a minority?
I think the representation of immigration and deportation in literature is incredibly important. My goal when I was writing Indivisible was to tell a story that felt human, emotional, and sincere, and my hope is that this book will remind readers that immigration is, at its core, a human issue, and not just a legal or political one.
I also believe books are incredibly powerful in their ability to build empathy and show us the hopes, dreams, and struggles of people who may be different from ourselves, which is why these stories are vital, especially today.
Identity or defining who we are and where we fit is an endeavor that many teenagers go through regardless of where they are, so based on your experience how hard is it for a child of immigrant parents to sway between different cultures, traditions, and countries? Did you struggle to define this by being born in Mexico and living in Canada and/or the USA?
Defining your identity as a teenager is a huge challenge in and of itself. That is why I wanted us to see Mateo struggling with regular teen concerns: friendships, college applications, first love, and figuring out his dreams for the future. Being an immigrant or the child of immigrants adds a whole other dimension to the process of forming our identity, which is something that I wanted to represent faithfully on the page. As an immigrant myself, I have definitely struggled with understanding how I fit into my world. To this day, this is something I still grapple with, so it was important to me for Mateo to show readers that this can be an ongoing process and that there are often no clear-cut answers. Ultimately, my hope is that immigrant readers who are going through similar struggles will recognize pieces of themselves in this character, and feel a little less alone as a result.
The industry has been called out for allowing authors to tell these stories that came across as “appropriating” a community’s pain, so how does it feel to have such an opportunity to tell a story close home and to have such a strong voice for many other authors?
I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to share this story and to hopefully pave the way for many other immigrant authors to write from their own perspectives. One of the biggest notions that we need to fight is that there can be a “single narrative” about immigration because stories about immigration, deportation, and family separation are as varied as human beings themselves. My hope is that we will continue to see more and more stories written by immigrant authors on shelves and that readers will be able to access a variety of books that talk about immigration from many different perspectives.
How important is this novel for you and for those that are gonna read it?
This book means a lot to me for many reasons, but I’d say the biggest is that there is a lot of myself in its pages. The main character, Mateo, is a reflection of who I am, so writing through his eyes taught me a lot about myself and how I interact with the world around me. There is something cathartic about exploring your own identity through a fictional character, and I loved being able to insert pieces of my own family, my friendships, and the admiration I have for my Latinx community into the story.
In terms of what it might mean for readers, I truly hope this book will reach young people who need it, and who may be able to find a reflection of themselves in this story. My favorite books are the ones that move me, inspire me, and help me feel less alone, so I hope Indivisible will allow readers to experience all of this.
When I read the premise I knew I was going to read this book, so based on that, what would you say to anybody that instead of hitting the pre-order button, like I did, hit the add to wish list option instead?
I would say Indivisible is a book with many facets. It is, at its core, a deeply emotional story about family separation, but it also has many moments of warmth. This is a book about the unbreakable bonds that bind us to the people we love, finding solace in the most unexpected of places, and going after our dreams. It has a strong focus on family, friendship, and first love, and I truly believe there is something in this story for everyone.
I hope you are as excited as we are for Indivisible! This novel will be out in May 2021, remember to get it free from Audible!
Remember to share the voices of BIPOC and Latinx authors! Let’s support those that have to fight harder to make their voice heard!
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