Junot Díaz picks The Beast as his book of 2013

The Financial Times pulled together their the best books of 2013 - as chosen by a selection of their writers and guests.

Junot Díaz selected The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail as his book of the year, describing it as: 

"The most extraordinary (and harrowing) book I read this year... This is a bravura act of frontline reporting that tracks the horror passage that many immigrants must survive (and some don’t) to reach the US from the south. These immigrants are preyed on by everyone and yet they cling to hope like they cling to the trains that will bring some of them to what they pray will be better lives. Beautiful and searing and impossible to put down."

This fantastic endorsement follows a string of laudatory reviews for this book:

"To understand the dramatic realities faced by the migrants who flee northwards to find work in the United States, Óscar Martínez literally jumped trains and dodged killers. He deserves praise not only for his efforts, and for what he writes about, but because he writes so very well."– Jon Lee Anderson, staff reporter for the New Yorker

"The Beast is extraordinary, first, for the courage that Martínez summoned to write it; and, second, for the hidden lives he reveals. No other writer has got this close to a migration that Amnesty International estimates left 70,000 unaccounted for between 2006 and 2012. Read together, the vivid personal stories told here have the force of a novel… his precise, empathetic and often poetic language summons rage and pity but also admiration in the reader." – John Paul Rathbone, Financial Times

"The world that Oscar Martínez, a Salvadoran journalist, set out to report on five years ago is so violent, depraved and hellish, you can hardly believe he survived to tell the tale... rugged prose, beautifully translated." – The Economist

"Martínez's writing is eloquent, gritty, and incisive, embedded in vividly observed detail ..." – New York Journal of Books

"Oscar Martínez is one of the bravest writers in Latin America, if not the world. He's also one of the best... [The Beast] is a fluent, humane, readable book, and one of the most capital-I important, capital-I inspiring released this year... an essential piece of writing about some of the hardest and most hopeful young people on earth" – Charlie Robin Jones, Dazed & Confused

"Amnesty International recently estimated that as many as 70,000 undocumented migrants went missing in Mexico between 2006 and 2012. An estimated 80 per cent of migrant women are raped on the journey. Martinez – who faces untold dangers as a reporter – gets beyond these numbers with skill and subtlety. He tells the stories of individuals with names, ages, faces, families, for whom migration is a matter of life and death."– Independent

"A heartbreaking book about the world's most invisible people. A revelatory work of love and hair-raising courage." 
– Alma Guillermoprieto, Latin America correspondent for the New York Review of Books, author of Dancing with Cuba

The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail by Óscar Martínez is available to buy.

You can read the full 2013 books round-up in the Financial Times here. Patrick Keiller's The View from the Train: Cities and Other Landscapes was also selected as one of the best Architecture and Design books of the year:

"Keiller is Britain’s most observant and provocative film-maker around the subject of cities and the landscape. In these wonderful essays, he explores the political and cultural forces behind how the UK looks."

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