Northern Light, by Kazim Ali

Staff Pick

Ali, a noted poet, was born in London to Pakistani parents, “mainly grew up” in Staten Island and other American cities, but always felt closest to JenPeg, the tiny Manitoba town—headquarters for a dam project—where he learned to read and to look at the stars. But years later, idly wondering what became of it, Ali discovers instead the world of nearby Cross Lake, home of the Pimicikamak Cree. Unaware of the region’s Indigenous population when he lived here, Ali is stunned to learn of a rash of suicides among its young people; seeking to understand both this and the pull the place—and, more, the people—suddenly have on him, he travels to Cross Lake. His heartfelt book, a graceful weave of memoir, journalism, and meditations on home, colonialism, climate change, and more, chronicles Ali’s meetings with the Cree—whose warm welcome included an invitation to join their Sweat Ceremony—the history of Native-European relations, and the lasting trauma of white efforts to repress Indigenous culture. But it also testifies to this people’s resilience and sprit as they recover traditional ways, from language and ritual to a sustainable, reverent relationship with the land.

Northern Light: Power, Land, and the Memory of Water Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9781571313829
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Milkweed Editions - March 9th, 2021

Winter in Sokcho, by Elisa Shua Dusapin

Staff Pick

Set in a South Korean resort town near the DMZ, Dusapin’s arresting first novel is a surprisingly vivid picture of limbo shot in high contrast. The narrator works in a mind-numbing job at a “guest house paralyzed by the cold” where she yearns “to be seen” by a visiting French cartoonist—even as she proves herself a brilliant observer. Through telling images from the synesthetic evocation of “skin clammy from the stench of sea spray that left salt on the cheeks, a taste of iron on the tongue,” to the startling description of how a man’s “throat throbbed when he chewed, like a sickly baby bird, newly born, dying,” Dusapin’s protagonist charts a society stuck in a state of suspended animation, where the only way out is plastic surgery and a move to Seoul—options the woman rejects, yet also makes her own, detailing the way her soup spoon “created ripples, smudging my nose, making my forehead undulate and my cheeks bleed into my skin.” Dusapin’s is a vision of singular power and strange beauty. 

Winter in Sokcho Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9781948830416
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Open Letter - April 27th, 2021

Build Bridges, Not Walls, by Todd Miller

Staff Pick

Turn a wall on its side, and you have a bridge. Of course, as Miller knows too well after covering border issues for 15 years, it’s not that simple. The world is suffering from a severe case of “wall sickness,” which fuels and is fueled by nationalism and xenophobia, afflicts nearly everyone whether they work or live near a border or not, diverts resources from, for instance, fighting climate change, to criminalizing climate refugees, and has caused the number of border walls worldwide since 1989 to grow from 15 to 70-plus. Focusing on Southwest desert crossings, Miller draws on a wide range of statistics, analysis, and, most powerfully, interviews with border agents, activists, refugees, and their families to examine arguments for and against open borders. Offering water to a dehydrated man, listening to a father’s anguish over a missing daughter, and recounting an agent’s epiphany when he watched an injured teenager die, Miller argues for the value of our common humanity, showing how we could reinvent the world by replacing competition with cooperation; as with Covid, to heal the ills of discrimination and division, we need to work together for everyone’s benefit. 

Build Bridges, Not Walls: A Journey to a World Without Borders (City Lights Open Media) Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780872868342
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: City Lights Books - April 6th, 2021

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