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Pick of the day: Heartbreak in The Bronx

By Paul Schwartzman

Any city worth its gritty salt is a breeding ground for tragedy, a required ingredient for some of journalism's best work.

New York City, with its 8 million people, with its rich, poor and in between, specializes in such yarns, one of which shows up in New York magazine this week. Written by Jennifer Gonnerman, "Machete" is the heartbreaking story of a boy whose family escaped murderous rebels in Sierra Leone and made it all the way to The Bronx, where the father aspired to the middle class and the youngster attended school, assimilating into his adopted culture, wearing "an American Eagle shirt, Buffalo jeans and a pair of Nikes."

Mohamed Jalloh even got an Americanized nickname: MJ.

With enough detail to bring the reader inside the Jalloh household, Gonnerman rolls out the tragic finale, which you can check out here. The piece is great not only because of what happens to the youngster, but because of what the reader learns along the way: about Sierra Leone, about The Bronx, about the African community in New York--worlds within worlds, all of it delivered on the printed page.

By Paul Schwartzman  | November 4, 2010; 8:04 AM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  
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Next: Pick of the day: 'Paint and Suffering'

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