Firsthand witness

Roberto Lovato

Roberto Lovato grew up in San Francisco in the 1970s and ’80s, the son of Salvadoran immigrants fleeing violence. The trauma of war and brutal family secrets hung over his childhood, while around him, Salvadoran teens formed gangs to protect themselves from other gangs.

In his 2020 memoir, he writes of his father’s complicated history as he reports on gang life, state violence, and the immigration crisis in El Salvador and the United States. In her New York Times review of the book, Carolyn Forché writes, “The picture he assembles is a mural of our complicity in systemic violence and inhumanity, and the resilience of the people who endured it.”

Lovato reads from Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 21 at Collected Works Bookstore (202 Galisteo St.). Masks and social distancing are required; the reading will be streamed simultaneously on Zoom. Free. 505-988-4226,

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