José Orduña discusses “The Weight of Shadows: A Memoir of Immigration & Displacement.” Tracing his story of becoming a US citizen, Orduña’s memoir explores the complex issues of immigration and assimilation.
At the International House at the University of Chicago
About the book: José Orduña chronicles the process of becoming a North American citizen in a post 9/11 United States. Intractable realities—rooted in the continuity of US imperialism to globalism—form the landscape of Orduña’s daily experience, where the geopolitical meets the quotidian. In one anecdote, he recalls how the only apartment his parents could rent was one that didn’t require signing a lease or running a credit check, where the floors were so crooked he once dropped an orange and watched it roll in six directions before settling in a corner.
Orduña describes the absurd feeling of being handed a piece of paper—his naturalization certificate—that guarantees something he has always known: he has every right to be here. A trenchant exploration of race, class, and identity, “The Weight of Shadows” is a searing meditation on the nature of political, linguistic, and cultural borders, and the meaning of “America.”
About the author: José Orduña was born in Córdoba, Veracruz and immigrated to Chicago when he was two. At nine, he and his parents traveled to Ciudad Juárez and filed for permanent residency under section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Having entered the US with a tourist visa, which had since expired, they were considered ‘removable aliens.’ In December of 2010, while in graduate school, Orduña applied for naturalization, and in July of 2011 was sworn in as a United States citizen. He is a graduate of the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa and is active in Latin American solidarity and advocates for immigrant rights.
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