Elvis Valle came to the United States at a young age as a result of the war in El Salvador, which lasted for over 12 years—from May 1979 to January 1992. The war produced massive violence. The U.N. reported approximately 75,000 known deaths throughout the war. Valle wrote the book “The Big Cave” about a boy very similar to him experiencing the civil war in El Salvador. EXTRA interviewed Valle about the process of writing his book and his goals for it.
EXTRA: Tell me about your journey from El Salvador to the U.S.
Elvis Valle: I came at the age of 17 because of the war in El Salvador. It was a very hard experience for me because I had to cross basically three borders: Guatemala, Mexico and the U.S. Coming to this country knowing almost nobody who could understand my experience was also difficult. When I hear the stories of children coming into the country now and struggling, I identify very strongly with them.
What was it like to transition from a war torn country to the U.S.?
At the beginning it was difficult, especially the first few years because I didn’t understand the language. I missed a lot of my friends and my family was also back in El Salvador. But little by little, I made this country part of my life. I went to school and created new friendships and I adapted to life in this country.
What inspired you to write a book and what do you hope will be the outcome?
It was an idea that came to me because I wanted to tell people how difficult it is for young individuals to immigrate to this country, especially for kids who grew up during the war in El Salvador. The oppression we lived through there is unbelievable. I want people to understand a little bit more the reasons why many immigrants come to this country, because there are deep motivations.
Why did you choose to make your book fictional rather than autobiographical?
The idea I had in mind I probably cannot express in a biography, though this book is largely based on my experience. I wanted it to be easier for people to understand and I thought it would be easier through fiction. If I talk just about myself, it would not be as interesting and the idea is to express all that happened in my life through another person. I thought this would be more attractive.
This post is also available in: Spanish
You may also like…