Odyssey to the North
by Mario Bencastro
English Translation by Susan Giersbach Rascón
Published: 30 Jun 1998
Bind: Trade Paperback
Decades of civil wars in Central America, combined with the need for manpower in the United States, have made the Hispanic migrant-worker a stock character in urban American life. This is the story of one such man, Calixto, who heads north “with his stomach empty but his soul full of hope.”
Award-winning author Bencastro creates a sensitive, caring portrait of Calixto as he seeks not only work, but safety from political persecution in his homeland. We feel both the heartbreak and humor of Calixto’s misunderstandings as a stranger in a strange land. Through a literary mosaic of conversations, court transcripts, newspaper clippings, and intimate letters, Bencastro allows Calixto and his fellow immigrants—who have come from Guatemala, El Salvador, and even further south—to tell their own stories as they struggle to survive in the restaurant kitchens, crowded tenements, and detention centers that become their proving grounds.
Finalist, 1999 Independent Publisher Books Awards-Multicultural Fiction
“Unpretentious and reportorial, Bencastros’ tone is welcomely understated—and his message all the more powerful for it.”—Publisher’s Weekly
“A heartfelt story of political oppression and exile. . . credible and quiet moving.”—Kirkus Reviews
A native of El Salvador, MARIO BENCASTRO is a novelist, playwright and painter. He took up the brush and canvas as the first outlet for his artistic expression. The medium garnered him remarkable success from an early age, with his works gracing the walls of major galleries in El Salvador, the United States, Latin America and Europe.
Bencastro currently resides in Florida; however, he maintains strong ties with his native land, spending a portion of each year there. El Salvador remains the author’s principle source of artistic inspiration.