Mother Tongue

That it is possible to learn as much from fiction as from nonfiction is made abundantly clear from a reading of MOTHER TONGUE. Martinez focuses her story on a young woman who becomes involved with a refugee from El Salvador who is smuggled into the U.S. by members of the Sanctuary movement, advocates for the tens of thousands of Salvadorans who have been harassed, tortured, and “disappeared” by a U.S.-supported military government.

There is the truth of experience behind Martinez’ fiction. In 1987, she was charged with conspiring against the U.S. government and aiding the entry of Salvadorans into the country. At the end of her 1988 trial, she was acquitted of the charges on First Amendment grounds — the jury determined that she had a right, as a reporter for the National Catholic Reporter, to witness efforts to aid refugees as part of the Sanctuary movement. Martinez knows whereof she speaks, and writes of it with the voice of the poet that she is.

Margaret Sanborn/Publicity