Brando Skyhorse, the PEN/Hemingway Award–winning author of The Madonnas of Echo Park, returns with a riveting literary dystopian novel set in a near-future America where mandatory identification wristbands make second-generation immigrants into second-class citizens—a powerful family saga for readers of Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West and Rumaan Alam’s Leave the World Behind.
MY NAME IS IRIS
by Brando Skyhorse
Avid Reader, May 2023
(via Writers House)
One day, Iris Prince, a middle-class, ideologically conservative Mexican American mother and wife, finds a mysterious wall growing outside her modest Southern California home. In addition to the maddening structure—which is impossible to remove and mutates at random—the rest of the world is also changing. A newly passed law suddenly denies basic rights like drivers’ licenses and steady employment to Americans who cannot prove at least one of their parents was born in the United States. Biometric wristbands are used to identify people who are “of verifiable origin” under the new system, while unverifiables are ignored or harassed with abandon.
Iris has always prided herself on being a model minority and assimilating into White American culture. She and her like-minded Mexican American husband Alex have raised their daughter Melanie to be bilingual, but there are strict rules about when Spanish is and isn’t acceptable, and about what other parts of their culture to selectively embrace. As Alex’s behavior becomes suspicious, Iris soon realizes she may not be eligible for the coveted wristband—at least not without going to dangerous, drastic lengths to get one. Meanwhile, the wall outside their home is growing, and their neighbors are watching more closely than ever…
A powerful story about family, identity, intolerance, and immigration, MY NAME IS IRIS is a brilliant and timely look at what it means to be American as seen through one woman’s tumultuous journey through a world that insists on telling her who she can and can’t be.
Brando Skyhorse’s debut novel, The Madonnas of Echo Park, won the 2011 PEN/Hemingway Award and the Sue Kaufman Award for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His memoir, Take This Man, was named one of Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Books of 2014 and one of NBC News’s 10 Best Latino Books of 2014. Skyhorse is a graduate of Stanford University and the MFA Writers’ Workshop program at UC Irvine.