They are all around us and yet much of the time we don't even really see them: the army of illegal immigrants who wait tables, deliver groceries, and scrub floors. Paradise Travel by Jorge Franco, however, has the power to change that for its readers. After picking up this book, it's hard not to wonder at every subsequent encounter with a nonnative: "What did this person sacrifice to get here?"
But heightened awareness of the plight of the alien (illegal or otherwise) is not the only reason to pick up this compact and compulsively readable novel, translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver.
Jorge Franco is a Colombian novelist on the rise, a leader of what is being called the "McOndo" school of fiction, a group of writers seemingly intent on upending the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez. (McOndo is a play on words that fuses García Márquez's fictional town of Macondo with McDonalds - denoting a gritty, noirish writing style that one critic has labeled "magical realism dragged into Burger King.")
"Paradise Travel" (Franco's fourth novel and his second to be published in the United States) tells the story of Marlon Cruz, a guileless young Colombian dragged into the world of illegal border crossings by his troubled and wilful girlfriend, Reina. The two live in Medellín, where Marlon entertains no higher ambitions than hanging onto his girlfriend and gaining admission to the university (a hope rendered virtually futile by his lack of connections).
You can find the full review here
Buy Paradise Travel at Amazon.com