n Scrutiny2 - In search of the “goodlife” : border crossing and agency in Luis Alberto Urrea’s Into the Beautiful North and Graciela Limón’s The River Flows North

Volume 24 Number 1
  • ISSN : 0041-5359



This article explores representations of complex diasporic subjectivities that resist, or attempt to resist, obsolete nationalist notions of citizenship and identity by crossing the US–Mexico border (and, in so doing, crossing other intangible borders) in search of a better life. Two examples of border literature, Luis Alberto Urrea’s Into the Beautiful North (2009) and Graciela Limón’s The River Flows North (2009), have been selected for analysis. These texts, in describing various diaspora spaces—to enlist Avtar Brah’s term (Cartographies of Diaspora. London: Routledge, 1996)—also examine how those who do not migrate are affected by migration. In Writing the Goodlife: Mexican American Literature and the Environment (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2016), Priscilla Solis Ybarra reveals how the past century and a half's Mexican-American literature contains valuable new approaches to creating and sustaining new forms of transnational relations between humans, and ecologically sound relationships between humans and nature. In many ways, the primary texts selected can be viewed as examples of “goodlife” writing because they highlight the socio-political as well as the environmental and economic crises in Latin America which force impoverished Mexicans to migrate north. As examples of border literature, these texts add a twist to “goodlife” writing by describing the border region as a hazardous diaspora space, and by emphasising the agency of the migrant characters who attempt to embrace their liminality and multiply located identities as they make the perilous journey across the border.

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