In his memoir, “The Weight of Shadows,” José Orduña chronicles the process of becoming a North American citizen in a post-9/11 United States. Intractable realities—rooted in the continuity of US imperialism to globalism—form the landscape of Orduña’s daily experience, where the geopolitical meets the quotidian. In one anecdote, he recalls how the only apartment his parents could rent was one that didn’t require signing a lease or running a credit check, where the floors were so crooked he once dropped an orange and watched it roll in six directions before settling in a corner. Orduña describes the absurd feeling of being handed a piece of paper—his naturalization certificate—that guarantees something he has always known: he has every right to be here. An exploration of race, class, and identity, “The Weight of Shadows” is a meditation on the nature of political, linguistic, and cultural borders, and the meaning of “America.”
José Orduña was born in Córdoba, Veracruz, and immigrated to Chicago when he was two. He is a graduate of the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa and active in Latin American solidarity. His book, “The Weight of Shadows: A Memoir of Immigration and Displacement, was published in 2016 by Beacon Press. He is Assistant Professor of English at UNLV.