Sam Quinones (last name pronounced Kin-YOH-Ness) is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist and author of three books of narrative nonfiction. His latest book is Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic (Bloomsbury, 2015), for which he traveled across the United States.
Dreamland chronicles the roots of America’s epidemic of opiate addiction, the nation’s deadliest drug scourge in its history.
In it, Quinones recounts twin stories of drug marketing in the 21st Century: A pharmaceutical corporation flogs its legal new opiate prescription painkiller as nonaddictive. Meanwhile, immigrants from a small town in Nayarit, Mexico devise a method for retailing black-tar heroin like pizza in the US, and take that system nationwide, riding a wave of addiction to prescription pills from coast to coast. The collision of those two forces has led to America's deadliest drug scourge in modern times.
The story is also an attempt to show how Americans’ desire to avoid pain, together with the destruction of community, the exaltation of the private, made the country especially vulnerable to addiction to opiates, the most isolating class of drugs we know as a species.
Dreamland won a National Book Critics Circle Award for the Best Nonfiction Book of 2015.
It was also selected as one of the Best Books of 2015 by Amazon.com, Slate.com, the Daily Beast, Buzzfeed, Seattle Times, Boston Globe, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Entertainment Weekly, Audible, and in the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Business by Nobel economics laureate, Prof. Angus Deaton, of Princeton University.
In 2019, Dreamland was selected as one the Best 10 True-Crime Books of all time based on lists, surveys, and ratings of more than 90 million Goodread readers.
A Young Adult version of Dreamland was released in July of 2019.
Quinones is at work on a follow up to Dreamland, about the scourge of fentanyl, methamphetamine, as well as dispatches from grassroots efforts to combat the epidemic.
His first two highly acclaimed books grew from his 10 years living and working as a freelance writer in Mexico (1994-2004).
True Tales From Another Mexico: The Lynch Mob, the Popsicle Kings, Chalino and the Bronx was released in 2001. It is a cult classic of a book from Mexico’s vital margins – stories of drag queens and Oaxacan Indian basketball players, popsicle makers and telenovela stars, migrants, farmworkers, a narcosaint, a slain drug balladeer, a slum boss, and a doomed tough guy.
In 2007, he came out with Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration. In it, Quinones narrates the saga of the Henry Ford of Velvet Painting, and of how an opera scene emerged in Tijuana, and how a Zacatecan taco empire formed in Chicago. He tells the tale of the Tomato King, of a high-school soccer season in Kansas, and Mexican corruption in a small LA County town. Threading through the book are three tales of a modern Mexican Huck Finn. Quinones ends the collection in a chapter called "Leaving Mexico" with his harrowing tangle with the Narco-Mennonites of Chihuahua.
Sam Quinones is formerly a reporter with the L.A. Times, where he worked for 10 years (2004-2014). He is a veteran reporter on immigration, gangs, drug trafficking, the border.
For more information on Sam Quinones, please contact Executive Speakers Bureau 901-754-9404.
Craving for Comfort: Behind America's Opioid Addiction
Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic
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