In conversations with drivers ranging from veterans of foreign wars to Indigenous women protecting one another, Di Cintio explores the borderland of the North American taxi.
“The taxi,” writes Marcello Di Cintio, “is a border.” Occupying the space between public and private, a cab brings together people who might otherwise never have met—yet most of us sit in the back and stare at our phones. Nowhere else do people occupy such intimate quarters and share so little. In a series of interviews with drivers, their backgrounds ranging from the Iraqi National Guard, to the Westboro Baptist Church, to an arranged marriage that left one woman stranded in a foreign country with nothing but a suitcase, Driven seeks out those missed conversations, revealing the unknown stories that surround us.
Travelling across borders of all kinds, from battlefields and occupied lands to midnight fares and Tim Hortons parking lots, Di Cintio chronicles the many journeys each driver made merely for the privilege to turn on their rooflight. Yet these lives aren’t defined by tragedy or frustration but by ingenuity and generosity, hope and indomitable hard work. From night school and sixteen-hour shifts to schemes for athletic careers and the secret Shakespeare of Dylan’s lyrics, Di Cintio’s subjects share the passions and triumphs that drive them.
Like the people encountered in its pages, Driven is an unexpected delight, and that most wondrous of all things: a book that will change the way you see the world around you. A paean to the power of personality and perseverance, it’s a compassionate and joyful tribute to the men and women who take us where we want to go.
Praise for Driven
“Driven is an engaging, impeccably investigated, character-driven work of narrative nonfiction, told with Di Cintio’s wonderful dark humour, keen empathy, and rich journalistic eye. The book is a searing testament to the power of untold stories, of people who exist in the margins, of hidden histories, as well as an examination of Canada’s immigration laws. Driven urges us to rethink the enduring toll on those individuals who labour for us and take us where we need to go. A truly fine blend of heart-break, guffaws, and research.”—Lindsay Wong, author of The Woo-Woo and My Summer of Love and Misfortune
“In these deeply researched and richly—often shockingly—detailed portraits of Canadian taxi drivers from all over the world, Di Cintio reveals, among other things, the heavy price exacted by getting here, and staying here. The funny, savage, and poignant stories in these pages give a fresh urgency to an old saying that all of us should remember the next time we get into a taxi: ‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.'”—John Vaillant, author of The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival
Praise for Marcello Di Cintio
“Di Cintio researches his subjects thoroughly, conducts in depth reporting, and writes with vigour and humility.”—Kamal Al-Solaylee, Quill & Quire
“Di Cintio weaves together history with a sense of place and infuses character with dialogue and humor … masterful.”—Selma Dabbagh, The Electronic Intifada
“Illuminating reading from a highly engaged author.”—Kirkus Reviews
“An astonishing book about folks from all over, many of whom have been through total hell but have somehow made their way out … You never know who’s driving you. Each person contains multitudes.”—Margaret Atwood on Twitter
“Fascinating … Nuanced … In Driven, Di Cintio stayed in his own country and paid close attention to the men and women most of us take for granted. Most were immigrants. Many came from war-torn nations. Many were what Di Cintio calls ‘chess masters of their own lives,’ possessing a genius and ingenuity that few of us recognize.”—Calgary Herald