Friday Staff Pick: Tijuana Straits

Set where the surf meets the sewage on the Cal/Mex border, Kem Nunn, master of surf noir, has written an immensely satisfying novel about broken lives and desperate struggles amid those who populate this netherworld near the Tijuana Straits.
— Recommended by Andy, City Lights Books

From National Book Award-nominated Kem Nunn comes an exquisitely written tale of loss and redemption along California’s untamed borderland, confirming his reputation as a master of suspense and a novelist of the first rank.

When Fahey, once a great surfer, now a reclusive ex-con, meets Magdalena, she is running from a pack of wild dogs along the ragged wasteland where California and Mexico meet the Pacific Ocean — a spot once known to the men who rode its giant waves as the Tijuana Straits. Magdalena has barely survived an attack on her life and Fahey, against his every instinct, takes her in.

An environmental activist, Magdalena is engaged in the struggle for the rights of the thousands of peasants streaming from Mexico’s impoverished heartland to work in the maquilladoras — the foreign-owned factories that line her country’s border, polluting its air and fouling its rivers. She is passionate about her work, and perhaps has taken too many risks with her own safety.

As Magdalena attempts to reconstruct the events that delivered her, battered and confused, into Fahey’s strange yet oddly seductive world, she examines every lead, never guessing the truth about the man who has marked her for death. Armando Santoya, beset by personal tragedy, an aberration born of the very conditions Magdalena has dedicated her life to fight against, is leading a trio of killers on a drug-fueled mission to end her life — and that of Fahey, her new protector, confidant, and friend — in a final duel on the beaches of the Tijuana Straits.

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