In the late 1970s, Luis Alberto Urrea was working in the slums of Tijuana and Ana María “Negra” Calderón was a barefoot young girl, the unschooled daughter of garbage pickers. Nearly 25 years later, Luis is now a celebrated writer, winner of the American Book Award, and a tenured professor in Chicago.
Back in Tijuana, Negra is struggling to raise her children and those of her sister, who was killed by her husband. In this piece Luis travels back to Tijuana to see Negra after an absence of seven years. He explores his sometimes uneasy relationship and the obligations that “first world” writers have toward their “third world” subjects.