Mónica De La Torre

Mónica De La Torre

Mónica De La Torre’s most recent book is Repetition Nineteen; she teaches at Brooklyn College.

Ellis Island

Nonfiction by Georges Perec

Translated from the French by Harry Mathews

With a contribution by Mónica De La Torre

Georges Perec, employing prose meditations, lists, and inventories (of countries of origin, of what the immigrants carried), conjures up in Ellis Island the sixteen million people who, between 1890 and 1954, arrived as foreigners and stayed on to become Americans. Perec (who by the age of nine was an orphan: his father was killed by a German bullet; his mother perished in Auschwitz) is wide-awake to the elements of chance in immigration and survival: “To me Ellis Island is the ultimate place of exile.…
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