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Lauren Markham

Journalist and author of The Far Away Brothers and A Map of Future Ruins

  • About Lauren Markham

    Lauren Markham is a writer and reporter based in Berkeley, California, and the author of The Far Away Brothers, a chronicle of unaccompanied minor migrants from El Salvador to the United States. Drawing on her expertise, Markham speaks about global refugee issues, Central American child migration in the U.S., environmental issues, and urban education and education policy.

    Having spent over a decade working with refugees and immigrants in nonprofits and schools, Lauren Markham began reporting on unaccompanied minors from Central America in 2013. She continued reporting on this issue while supporting access to legal counsel, social services support, and mental healthcare for an influx of hundreds of unaccompanied minors at the school where she was working in Oakland, California, many of whom were fleeing the region’s brutal violence. She began working on The Far Away Brothers to examine the root causes of this mass youth migration—to understand why all of these children were suddenly, alone and under extremely dangerous conditions, making their way from Central America to the United States. In 2019, she published a version of The Far Away Brothers adapted for young adults.

    In 2021, Lauren Markham went to Greece, to explore her own heritage and to cover the aftermath of a fire that burned down the largest refugee camp in Europe. Markham soon saw that she was tracing a broader narrative, rooted not only in centuries of global history but also in myth. The resulting book, A Map of Future Ruins: On Borders and Belonging, is mesmerizing, trailblazing synthesis of reporting, history, memoir, and essay.

    An expert in migration, an educator, and an accomplished journalist, Lauren Markham’s work has appeared in outlets such as The Guardian, Harper’s, Orion, Guernica, VICE, Pacific Standard, The New and VQR, where she is a contributing editor.

    She is a graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts’ MFA in writing program and has been awarded fellowships from the Mesa Refuge, the UC Berkeley 11th Hour Food & Farming Journalism Fellowship, The French American Foundation, The Rotary Foundation, and the Middlebury Fellowship in Environmental Journalism.

    Contact us for more information about booking Lauren Markham for your next event. 

  • Speaking Topics

    Immigration and Youth Migration

    Drawing on her reporting and her book The Far Away Brothers, Lauren Markham discusses the contemporary Central American and child migrant experience. This lecture also touches on the effects of recent immigration policy and the future of undocumented immigrants in the United States and child migrants and refugees worldwide.

    Urban Education and Education Policy

    While working at a school in Oakland, California, Lauren Markham sought to help hundreds of unaccompanied minors gain access legal counsel, social services support, and mental healthcare. Reflecting on education policy and personal experience, Markham addresses the complex issues facing inner city schools today, especially those with high immigrant populations.

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  • Praise for Lauren Markham

    Praise for A Map of Future Ruins

    Blends memoir, history, and reportage in a wide-ranging and unflinching account. . . . Into this heart-wrenching drama. . . . Markham interweaves ruminations on Greece’s twin crises of immigration and emigration. . . . Interspersed throughout are powerful ruminations on ancient Greece as the birthplace of classical Western ideals and the myth-making process inherent to all migration stories. Readers will be thoroughly engrossed.

    Publishers Weekly (starred)

    An expansive meditation on the roles of myth and politics in the stories we construct about our origins.

    New York Times

    Luminous and expansive ... Markham shows us what we most urgently need to see.

    Ingrid Rojas Contreras, author of Fruit of the Drunken Tree and The Man Who Could Move Clouds

    Pushes beyond the news to interrogate the collective myths we tell ourselves about community, belonging, and the lives of immigrants.

    Jonathan Blitzer, author of Everyone Who Is Gone Is Here

    Praise for The Far Away Brothers

    Timely and thought-provoking…Markham provides a sensitive and eye-opening take on what’s at stake for young immigrants with nowhere else to go.

    Publishers Weekly

    A stark examination of youth migration and the extreme risks taken to access a better life….Markham questions the accessibility of the American dream while compassionately narrating Raúl and Ernesto’s experiences.


    An indelible picture…of one imperfect family driven apart and astray—not by inequality or lax enforcement, but by the humanitarian crisis of gang warfare.


    “Powerful…Focusing primarily on one family’s struggle to survive in violence-riddled El Salvador by sending some of its members illegally to the U.S.,…[this] compellingly intimate narrative…keenly examines the plights of juveniles sent to America without adult supervision….One of the most searing books on illegal immigration since Sonia Nazario’s Enrique’s Journey.


    Lauren Markham has written a modern day epic with The Far Away Brothers. It is a wonderfully unfolding, intimate portrait of family and the dangers people are still willing to risk for a simple chance at a better life. Markham’s writing reads like the best of fiction out there, and yet… remember, this happened to real people. This is the sort of book you’ll be thinking about at night

    Domingo Martinez, author of The Boy Kings of Texas

    This brilliantly reported book goes so deeply into the lives of its protagonists and is so beautifully, movingly written it has some of the pleasures of a novel—but all the force of bitter truth, the truth about the lives of unaccompanied minors in the USA, about poverty, the ricocheting wars here and there, and the caprices and brutalities of immigration policy. Anyone who wants to understand more deeply how we got here and why we need to keep going until we get someplace better should dive into this book.

    Rebecca Solnit, author of The Mother of All Questions

    Once you’ve read this remarkable reporting, ‘immigration’ will never be an abstract or airless debate for you again. It’s hard to imagine a more timely or more valuable volume!

    Bill McKibben, author of Radio Free Vermont
  • Books by Lauren Markham

  • Media About Lauren Markham

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  • Lauren Markham travels from Oakland, CA

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