September/October 2022 Selection
Journalist, activist and author Roberto Lovato delivers, Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas, an urgent, no-holds-barred tale of gang life, guerrilla warfare, intergenerational trauma and interconnected violence between the United States and El Salvador. Lovato’s memoir excavates family history and reveals the intimate stories beneath headlines about gang violence and mass Central American migration, one of the most important, yet least-understood humanitarian crises of our time—and one in which the perspectives of Central Americans in the United States have been silenced and forgotten.
This memoir jumps around in time and geography, taking place largely in El Salvador and here in San Francisco, with recognizable settings near the 24th St. BART station, local restaurants and cafes and even the Randall Museum.
The City has a sizable Salvadoran population, and Lovato’s story explores the context and circumstance of why people might join a rebellion, or join a violent gang or emigrate here, to San Francisco. And why the poet Roque Dalton would describe his country-people as being born “half dead”. Lovato also makes clear the relationship between U.S. foreign policy and the effects of that policy on El Salvador and on individual men, women and children—those who survive and those who do not.
“I’m here trying to forget things,” Lovato tells a colleague on one of his stays in El Salvador. Intentional and necessary forgetting of secrets, trauma, family experiences and history is recurring, and the process of un-forgetting helps Lovato with his understanding of El Salvador, the U.S., gangs, rebels, his relationships, and ultimately, himself.
About the author
Lovato is an educator, journalist and writer based at The Writers Grotto in San Francisco. As a Co-Founder of #DignidadLiteraria, he helped build a movement advocating for equity and literary justice for the more than 60 million Latinx persons left off of bookshelves in the United States and out of the national dialogue. A recipient of a reporting grant from the Pulitzer Center, Lovato has reported on numerous issues—violence, terrorism, the drug war and the refugee crisis—from Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Haiti, France and the United States, among other countries.
On Sat., Oct. 22, 2 p.m., SFPL hosts a not to miss conversation between journalist, activist and author Roberto Lovato and Vanessa Hua, award-winning, best-selling author and columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Together they discuss Lovato gripping memoir Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas.
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