Working in the Shadows is a book by Gabriel Thompson–the smiling face on the right–that will be published January 26, 2010 by Nation Books, an imprint of Perseus and the book publishing arm of The Nation magazine. The book chronicles my year-long experiment working undercover in the low-wage immigrant workforce (a longer description is below).

This website is both a means to (hopefully!) publicize the book and maintain a blog that discusses immigrant-related themes, while also sharing all sorts of stories and ideas that I wasn’t able to fit into the actual book. I’ve never maintained a blog before, so it should be interesting. My grandfather refers to blogs as blobs, and I can see his point, so I’m going to try and keep things snappy and interesting. As much as possible. Now, the official descriptions…

Working in the Shadows: A Year of Doing the Jobs (Most) Americans Won’t Do

What is it like doing the back-breaking work of immigrants? To find out, Gabriel Thompson spent the year working alongside Latino immigrants, who initially thought he was either crazy or an undercover immigration agent. He stooped over lettuce fields in Arizona and worked the graveyard shift at a chicken slaughterhouse in rural Alabama. He dodged taxis—not always successfully—as a bicycle delivery “boy” for an upscale Manhattan restaurant, and was fired from a flower shop by a boss who, he quickly realized, was nuts.

As one coworker explained, “These jobs make you old quick.” Back spasms occasionally keep Thompson in bed, where he suffers recurring nightmares involving iceberg lettuce and chicken carcasses. Combining personal narrative with investigative reporting, Thompson shines a bright light on the underside of the American economy, exposing harsh working conditions, union busting, and lax government enforcement—while telling the stories of workers, undocumented immigrants and desperate US citizens alike, forced to live with chronic pain in the pursuit of $8 an hour.

About the Author

Gabriel Thompson has contributed to New York, The Nation, New York Times, Brooklyn Rail, In These Times and others. He is the recipient of the Richard J. Margolis Award, the Studs Terkel Media Award, and a collective Sidney Hillman Award. His writings are collected at www.wherethesilenceis.org. The author of There’s No José Here and Calling All Radicals, he lives in Brooklyn.

thompson (dot) gabriel (at) gmail (dot) com.