David Corbett Travels True NorthPosted by Donna Levin on May 26, 2010 | READ & ADD COMMENTS BELOW
Novelists often have an inner compass that leads them to timely events ahead of time. David Corbett has just published his fourth novel, Do They Know I’m Running? and it centers around the issue of illegal immigration. Coincidence? You be the judge.
Hint: It’s not a coincidence.
Dislike, distrust and outright hatred of immigrants dates back to our country’s infancy. Even Alexander Hamilton was the object of smear campaigns as being the only “founding father” of note who was not born in one of the thirteen colonies.
So immigration, “legal” and otherwise, has never been out of the news. Last month, however, Arizona put a blinding spotlight on the issue, when Governor Jan Brewer “signed the nation’s toughest bill on illegal immigration into law … [it] would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.” ( http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/24/us/politics/24immig.html)
Do They Know I’m Running? is the story of American citizen Roque Montalvo’s dangerous journey to bring his uncle back into the United States after the older man is deported. As in all his work, Corbett deals unflinchingly with some very unpretty people, including human traffickers. With monsters to slay and a fair damsel to rescue, Roque is carrying on the tradition of Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces, from Ulysses to Luke Skywalker. And although the novel can be fairly placed in the category of suspense, Thomas Gaughan, in Booklist (starred review) wrote, “Readers who devour and then forget formulaic crime novels won’t soon forget this one.”
You can read the beginning of chapter one on David’s website, www.DavidCorbett.com. That opening is a chilling example of all that prose can do: reveal character, set a mood, and launch a story in less space than most authors use for their acknowledgements. (I particularly recommend it to any writer – myself included – who is tempted to put a flashback into the first chapter.)
Hopefully Arizona’s Draconian law is not here to stay, but stories such as this one most certainly will be.