Gaijin find traveling in Japan both daunting and welcoming. Try traveling there black and gay, and yet, for some people, it’s America that feels more foreign.
Debut author Naima Coster writes about her experience working with African American editor Morgan Parker on her first novel, Halsey Street, and also touches on the whiteness of publishing, and literary self-determination.
A personal essay in which Nina Coomes recalls her family’s tradition of extreme unplugging — no reading, talking, using digital devices — while taking silent retreats at a Catholic seminary each Thanksgiving.
On the wonder and strangeness of occupying a perpetually in-between space.
Black UVA alum Taylor Harris writes about explaining the racist violence on the Charlottesville campus to her 6-year-old daughter, who hadn’t yet personally encountered racism or ever learned about racist violence. Only a day before the “Unite the Right” protest that led to white supremacists beating Dre Harris and killing Heather Heyer, her daughter and husband had been right there, buying ice cream. Harris wrestles with informing her daughter, because she doesn’t want to rob her of her innocence.
During his punk band’s first tour, a high school musician visits the home of underground artist Daniel Johnson, one of his musical heroes, and someone who also suffers from manic depression. The experience is the realization of a dream, and it gave the author perspective that stayed with him for years.
Porochista Khakpour reflects on her desire to write — at first about anything other than Iranian-America. Deeply conflicted about speaking from her perspective as an Iranian-American, she says, “Remind yourself that when the performance is honest two things happen: The essay will feel like it’s killing you and the ending will not be what you thought it might be. Learn to respect more than resent those parallel planes of living and the rendering of living.”
Michael Gonzales affectionately looks back on a romantic relationship where the partners share a love of Prince.
A personal essay by Chris J. Rice about finding the brother who was only a year old when she ran away from their abusive mother at 14. Like her brother, Rice wound up in foster care. Through higher education, she found her way to a better life, but didn’t emerge unscathed. Riddled with survivor guilt, she apologizes to her brother, who assures her she wouldn’t have been able to prevail over their mother and save him, even if she had stayed.
Noah Cho ruminates on why his mother, a blond “symbol of America, the homecoming queen” was attracted to his father, a “barely-bilingual” Korean immigrant who came to the U.S. to pursue a career in medicine.