How Michelle Garcia told the story of Juárez, a city lost to violence, through its dogs | Nieman Storyboard

I am delighted to share that Carolina Miranda, an art critic for the Los Angeles Times, reviewed my piece, Mexico’s City of dogs, which appeared in Al Jazeera America for Nieman Storyboard.

In her critique, “How Michelle Garcia told the story of Juárez, a city lost to violence, through its dogs,” Miranda writes:

It is a piece that I have returned to repeatedly over the years, haunted by its picture of a city so consumed by violence that the everyday human-animal ecosystem is thrown out of whack, a story that evokes, in stark, terms, what it means for the social order to fall apart: People flee, or are killed, and a city is left feral.

The piece was published in 2013 when much of the narrative of the violence in Mexico, simplistically referred to as a “drug war,” was largely described as “cartel wars” or turf battles. The piece, which I reported reported with one of Mexico’s finest investigative reporters, Ignacio Alvarado Alvarez, attempted to deconstruct the various forces behind the violence.

Part of what has long intrigued me about this article is the way in which Garcia and Alvarado tell a story that is about one thing (dogs) while simultaneously telling us a story about another (violence in Juárez). It recalls the intricate writings of essayist Bruce Chatwin, who once chose to describe the immigrant legacy of Buenos Aires by writing about the phone book. (“The history of Buenos Aires is written in the telephone directory,” he wrote in his famous South American travelogue, “In Patagonia “Pompey Romanov, Emilio Rommel, Crespina D. Z. de Rose, Ladislao Radziwil, and Elizabeta Marta Callman de Rothschild — five names taken at random from among the R’s — told a story of exile, desolation, disillusion, and anxiety behind lace curtains.”)

I am deeply grateful to Carolina and Nieman Storyboard for featuring the piece. In reading the review, I am reminded of the gift of story to shape perceptions, burrow into our minds and travel with us in our hearts. It is my privilege and honor to be read.

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