Gabriel Thompson, 2008 Award Winner
Gabriel Thompson's work with Mexican immigrants as a community organizer inspired him to labor among them and write about their lives.
After four years as a community organizer working primarily with recently arrived Mexican immigrants in Brooklyn, N.Y., Thompson began researching a narrative nonfiction book that became There's No José Here: Following the Hidden Lives of Mexican Immigrants (Nation Books, 2007). Later in 2007, Nation Books published Thompson's second book, Calling All Radicals: How Grassroots Organizers Can Save Our Democracy. While working on the two books, Thompson wrote a number of articles about the immigrant experience for publications including New York, The Nation, The New York Times and In These Times.
Thompson's third book, Working in the Shadows: Doing the Jobs (Most) Americans Won't Do,
published January 2010, offers a firsthand look at the lives of low-wage Latinos. In researching the book, Thompson spent a year in locations across the country working alongside immigrants in three industries dominated by immigrant labor: agriculture, poultry processing and food delivery.
"My hope with the book is to provide the most intimate look at immigrant work to date, a version of Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed for the Mexican immigrant," said Thompson at the time. "Amidst the ongoing and heated national debate over immigration reform, my book will give Americans an unvarnished look at the jobs that immigrants perform, and perhaps introduce a new level of empathy, causing them to assess a bit more value to the role that they play in supporting our economy."