The New York Times

Missing Children

VALERIA LUISELLI’S LATEST NOVEL TRACES THE YOUNGEST CASUALTIES OF THE BORDER CRISIS.

“Lost Children Archive

By Valeria Luiselli

416 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $27.95.

Last summer, when the American government separated thousands of migrant children from their parents — detaining them far apart and sometimes losing track of children — the outcry was visceral, and full-throated enough to provoke a stampede of storytelling by activists and journalists. There seemed to be an imperative, both professional and moral, to pay particular attention to the experiences of the children. There was a duty to humanize them, to counter political language such as “illegal alien.” But what such stories really hope to do is humanize their readers, listeners, spectators: the desensitized consumers of news. The reporting aims to make us see beyond legal, national or partisan labels into the hearts of migrants, to awaken us to empathy. Which of us who has loved a child wouldn’t be moved by the evocative details of innocence snagged on the jagged fences of adult circumstance? This newspaper, for one, told of the mooing that resonated at bedtime through a converted Walmart superstore in Texas where

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