2008 Maria Moors Cabot Prize winner
Sam Quinones grew up in Claremont, California and graduated from UC Berkeley.
He has been a journalist for 21 years. He spent 10 years (1994-2004) living in Mexico as a freelance writer, and is the author of two non-fiction books about Mexico.
In Mexico, he traveled far and wide, visiting all the major immigrant-sending states, and writing prolifically about Mexican immigration.
He spent time with gang members and governors, taco vendors and the premier pop group, Los Tigres del Norte, who have chronicled Mexican immigration to the United States. He wrote about soap operas and lived briefly in a drug-rehabilitation clinic in Zamora, while hanging out with a street gang. He did the same with a colony of transvestites in Mazatlan, with the merchants in the Mexico City of Tepito, and with the colony of relegated PRI congressmen known as the Bronx, who were prevented by their party from speaking in public.
In 1998, he was awarded an Alicia Patterson Fellowship, one of the most prestigious fellowships in U.S. print journalism, for a series of stories on impunity in Mexico – including one about a lynching in a small town.
His first book, True Tales from Another Mexico: The Lynch Mob, the Popsicle Kings, Chalino and the Bronx (University of New Mexico Press, 2001), is a collection of non-fiction stories about contemporary Mexico that grew from his reporting on the country.
His second book of non-fiction stories, Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration, was published in 2007.
Called "the most original American writer on the border and Mexico out there" by The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, Quinones returned to the United States in 2004 and now works for the Los Angeles Times, covering immigration-related stories and gangs.