Jason DeParle is a reporter for The New York Times and has written extensively about poverty and immigration. His book, American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare was a New York Times Notable Book and won the Helen Bernstein Award from the New York City Library. He was an Emerson Fellow at New America. He is a recipient of the George Polk Award and is a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
A GOOD PROVIDER IS ONE WHO LEAVES
“No matter your politics or home country this will change how you think about the movement of people between poor and rich countries…one of the best books on immigration written in a generation.” –Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted
The definitive chronicle of our new age of global migration, told through the multi-generational saga of a Filipino family, by a veteran New York Times reporter and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist.
When Jason DeParle moved into the Manila slums with Tita Comodas and her family three decades ago, he never imagined his reporting on them would span three generations and turn into the defining chronicle of a new age—the age of global migration. In a monumental book that gives new meaning to “immersion journalism,” DeParle paints an intimate portrait of an unforgettable family willing themselves out of shantytown poverty into a new global middle class.
Migration is changing the world—reordering politics, economics, and cultures on multiple continents. Expertly combining the personal and panoramic, DeParle presents a family saga and the global phenomenon. Beating the odds, Tita’s daughter Rosalie works her way across the Middle East as a nurse until a Texas hospital fulfills her dreams with a job in the States. Her journey is a twenty-first-century classic, rendered in gripping detail.
“DeParle excels in both intimate detail and sweeping scale.” –Publisher's Weekly, starred review
“A remarkably intimate look at migration’s impact on both a single family and the global community.” –Booklist, starred review
“A remarkably creative, enlightening, and empathetic book.” –Library Journal, starred review
In this definitive work, two-time Pulitzer finalist Jason DeParle cuts between the mean streets of Milwaukee and the corridors of Washington to produce a masterpiece of literary journalism. At the heart of the story are three cousins whose different lives follow similar trajectories. Leaving welfare, Angie puts her heart in her work. Jewell bets on an imprisoned man. Opal guards a tragic secret that threatens her kids and her life. DeParle traces their family history back six generations to slavery and weaves poor people, politicians, reformers, and rogues into a spellbinding epic.
With a vivid sense of humanity, DeParle demonstrates that although we live in a country where anyone can make it, generation after generation some families don’t. To read American Dream is to understand why.
Courageous and deeply disturbing... DeParle challenges the nation. –The New York Times Book Review
More Praise for A Good Provider is One Who Leaves
“A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves is sweeping, vivid, and complicated in all the right ways. Just when we are about to lose hope, there is a moment of beauty or humor or grace that saves us from despair.” —AMANDA RIPLEY, author of The Smartest Kids in the World
“This book sets a new standard in the literature of migration—heartmelting in the intimacy of the Portagana family story across generations and continents, and at the same time profound in its connection of that story to the broader phenomenon. Eloquence on every page.” —TOM GJELTEN, NPR correspondent and author of A Nation of Nations
“Jason DeParle’s new book is the long-ripening fruit of a great journalist’s preoccupation with a story that took hold of him, and also a masterful survey of the number-one global issue of the moment, migration. DeParle has created a powerful argument for immigration at a time when it is sorely needed. His calm, warm, authoritative tone is far more persuasive than that of the louder voices that dominate discussions of his subject.” —NICHOLAS LEMANN, Joseph Pulitzer II and Edith Pulitzer Moore Professor of Journalism, Columbia University
“It’s hard to imagine a better-timed book. After decades of work, Jason DeParle delivers this masterpiece of reporting and insight at precisely the moment when America is making the most basic decisions about immigration. His storytelling is so vivid, granular, and alive that, once you’ve read it, immigration can never be a bumper-sticker controversy again. An American classic.” —BILL MCKIBBEN, author of Falter
Jason DeParle Author’s Note
I was interested in poor people before I was interested in journalism. I wrote my first poverty story when I was ten— a poem about a neighbor on food stamps. In college, I spent a summer in India. When I came back, a visiting journalist gave a talk about covering poverty. Suddenly I knew what I wanted to do. Getting hired to cover social policy for The New York Times felt like playing centerfield for the Yankees.
The stories I like best are deeply reported, character-driven narratives that illuminate larger issues. About, say, poor kids trying to go to college or escape gangs. For my first book, American Dream, I spent seven years following three Milwaukee families on and off the welfare rolls. When a reviewer said it read like a novel, I felt like I’d done my job.
Three decades ago, I moved into a Manila shantytown and lived with a remarkable family. Their hovel was my graduate school. Tita and Emet Comodas faced their hardships with uncommon grace and resilience, and I’ve been reporting on their family since. Emet spent much of his life working abroad. All five of his children grew up to do the same, as the quest for a better life scattered them across the globe. A daughter, Rosalie, went farthest—she became a nurse and moved to Texas. Her journey from the Manila slums to the Houston suburbs is the greatest poverty success story I know.
I trace the saga across three generations, and explore the rise of global migration, in my new book, A Good Provider is One Who Leaves (August 2019).