City Lights and Farrar, Straus, Giroux celebrate the launch of
The Way That Leads Among the Lost: Life, Death, and Hope in Mexico City’s Anexos
By Angela Garcia
Published by Farrar, Straus, Giroux
Based on over a decade of research, a powerful, moving work of narrative nonfiction that illuminates the little-known world of the anexos of Mexico City, the informal addiction treatment centers where mothers send their children to escape the violence of the drug war.
The Way That Leads Among the Lost reveals a hidden place where care and violence are impossible to separate: the anexos of Mexico City. The prizewinning anthropologist Angela Garcia takes us deep into the world of these small rooms, informal treatment centers for alcoholism, addiction, and mental illness, spread across Mexico City’s tenements and reaching into the United States. Run and inhabited by Mexico’s most marginalized populations, they are controversial for their illegality and their use of coercion. Yet for many Mexican families desperate to keep their loved ones safe, these rooms offer something of a refuge from what lies beyond them—the intensifying violence surrounding the drug war.
This is the first book ever written on the anexos. Garcia, who spent a decade conducting anthropological fieldwork in Mexico City, draws readers into their many dimensions, casting light on the mothers and their children who are entangled in this hidden world. Following the stories of its denizens, she asks what these places are, why they exist, and what they reflect about Mexico and the wider world. With extraordinary empathy and a sharp eye for detail, Garcia attends to the lives that the anexos both sustain and erode, wrestling with the question of why mothers turn to them as a site of refuge even as they reproduce violence. Woven into these portraits is Garcia’s own powerful story of family, childhood, homelessness, and drugs—a blend of ethnography and memoir converging on a set of fundamental questions about the many forms and meanings that violence, love, care, family, and hope may take.
Infused with profound ethnographic richness and moral urgency, The Way That Leads Among the Lost is a stunning work of narrative nonfiction, a book that will leave a deep mark on readers.
Angela Garcia is an anthropologist and writer. Her first book The Pastoral Clinic: Addiction and Dispossession Along the Rio Grande received the Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing and the Pen Center USA Award for Exceptional First Book. Angela was born in New Mexico and now lives in San Francisco with her two children.
What has been said about the work of Angela Garcia:
“An extraordinary exploration, personal and anthropological, of the impossibly murky boundaries between protecting children, walling them off from the dangers of the world, and abandoning them. Garcia is so gifted that she can turn a history of a small dim room in Mexico City into an examination of both her life and a generation.” —Rachel Aviv, author of Strangers to Ourselves
“The Way That Leads Among the Lost is a searing ethnography of the violence experienced by poor mothers in Mexico City’s war on drugs as they struggle to protect their children by committing them to lay treatment centers that use violence as care. It is also a searching autobiography of Angela Garcia’s own existential struggle with the violence of poverty, drugs, broken family, and abandonment. The two stories merge into what is more than a tragedy of our time, but a personal victory for Garcia’s caregiving to rebuild her world. Powerful, compelling, deeply affecting: a courageous account of what has become all too ordinary social suffering and the extraordinary work in the ambiguous grey zone of life to repair broken worlds.” —Arthur Kleinman, The Soul of Care
This event is made possible by the support of the City Lights Foundation