Crime writer Sheila Bugler about Sam Hawken’s novel LA FRONTERA

La Frontera is a heart-breaking novel of corruption, broken dreams and the indominatable power of the human spirit.
Set in the harsh, desert landscape of the borderland between Texas and Mexico, the novel is, at its heart, an exploration of the socio-economic conditions that force millions of people to enter the US illegally in search of a better life.
We follow the story of three characters: Texas Ranger, Ana Torres spends her days patrolling the border in an attempt to stop people coming through illegally; Luis Gonzalez lives on the Mexican side of the border and offers help and advice to those poor souls trying to get across to the other side; and Marisola Herrara from El Salvador, who has spent her life dreaming of a way out of the deadening poverty of the small mountain village where she lives.
With exquisite skill, Hawken brings us deep into the life of each of these deeply sympathetic characters. He makes us care about them first. Then, alongside each one, we endure the horror that is commonplace for those living close la frontera and those trying to break across it into the US.
Hawken is a great writer and this novel sits alongside the best of American literary fiction. Possibly because of the CWA shortlisting, Hawken is sometimes classed as a ‘crime writer’. Yes, there is crime here, but the novel is far more than that. It is a scathing exploration of poverty, corruption and the terrible violence so commonplace in this beautiful, desperate part of the world.
I adored this novel and am in awe of Hawken’s power as a writer.

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