A world-bending, lyrically rich poetry collection that reimagines the U.S.-Mexico border as both a real place and a living simulation—and tells the story of a pair of siblings trapped between the two
“Word coyote Gabriel Dozal is crossing borders with this story. It’s his job: narrative poetry discovering a new language.”—Sandra Cisneros, author of Woman Without Shame
“This crosser is a possession that someone wants but we’re not sure who
and the crosser must often possess themselves. In perpetuity”
In Gabriel Dozal’s debut collection, the U.S.-Mexico border is redefined as a place of invention; crossing it becomes a matter of simulation. The poems accompany Primitivo, who attempts to cross the border, an imaginary boundary that becomes more real and challenging as his journey progresses; and his sister, Primitiva, who lives an alternate, static life as an exploited migrant worker in la fabrica.
The tech world and bureaucracy collide, with humanity falling by the wayside, as Primitiva endures drudgery in la fabrica. “In the past our ID cards were decorative. Now we switch off with someone else, another worker who will wipe the serenade from our eyes.” With no way to escape the simulation, Primitivo and Primitiva must participate in it, scheming to gain its favor. To win, you must be the best performer in the factory, the best imitation of a citizen, the best machine.
Featuring a bilingual format for English and Spanish readers, The Border Simulator explores physical and metaphysical borders, as well as the digital divide of our modern era. With inventive imagery, spirited wordplay, and thrilling movement, these energetic poems oscillate between the harrowing and the joyful, interrogating, innovating, and ultimately redefining binaries and divisions.