All posts tagged: Restless Books

Read Excerpts by the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing 2022 Finalists

The ethos of the modern world is defined by immigrants. Their stories have always been an essential component of our cultural consciousness, from Isaac Bashevis Singer to Isabel Allende, from Milan Kundera to Yiyun Li. In novels, short stories, memoirs, and works of journalism, immigrants have shown us what resilience and dedication we’re capable of, and have expanded our sense of what it means to be global citizens. In these times of intense xenophobia, it is more important than ever that these boundary-crossing stories reach the broadest possible audience.

Now in its seventh year, the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing supports the voices of immigrant writers whose works straddle cultural divides, embrace the multicultural makeup of our society, and interrogate questions of identity in a global society. This prize awards $10,000 and publication with Restless Books to a debut writer. This year’s judges, Tiphanie Yanique, Deepak Unnikrishnan, and Ilan Stavans, have selected the below four finalists. Click on the links in each section to read excerpts from their books.
 
 

Nobody Here Plays Little Kid Games by Geimy Colón

Image of Geimy Colon's headshot.

A dark and fascinating take on the intersectionality of gender, age, and migration, Geimy Colón’s short story collection, Nobody Here Plays Little Kid Games, is a coming-of-age tale written in lush and graceful prose. Set in an unnamed Latin American country, each story begins with children innocently climbing trees, playing marbles with their friends, and experiencing their first kisses. Colón then reveals a more sinister reality as we observe the children replicate the violence of colorism, colonialism, and oppression that surrounds them. Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Colón writes stories that oscillate between the realms of innocence and the loss of innocence, refusing to shy away from the darker aspects of immigrant childhood. Nobody Here Plays Little Kid Games illustrates what occurs in the absence of adults—and what occurs because, and in spite, of them.

Read the excerpt.

 

Between This World and the Next by Praveen Herat

Image pof Praveen Herat's headshot.

Set in 1998, Between This World and the Next tells the story of Fearless, a burnt-out British photojournalist hardened by a long career in war-torn countries, and Song, a Cambodian woman who has been physically and psychologically beset by the violence in her country. When Song disappears, leaving only a mysterious videotape behind, Fearless must navigate a dangerous network of shady power brokers, transnational kingpins, sex traffickers, and arms dealers, uncovering a sprawling network of criminality and corruption in a newly post-Soviet world. A passionate exploration of power, poverty, and greed, Between This World and the Next challenges our own complicity as passive observers when exposed to a constant stream of media depicting suffering across the world. Born in London to Sri Lankan parents, Praveen Herat brings a sharp new perspective to the global ramifications of the breakup of the Soviet Union and the hidden criminal networks that impact our lives in ways beyond our reckoning.

Read the excerpt.

 

Craft by Ananda Lima

Image of Ananda Lima's headshot.

A wild and surrealistic story collection that pays homage to Kafka and Cortázar, Ananda Lima’s Craft seeks to disrupt reductive understandings of both the immigrant experience and the art and craft of writing. Blending autofiction and magical realism, Lima creates characters as enigmatic as they are endearing. From stories of women who devour miniature Americans from vending machines and are haunted by ghosts, to the writer’s recreation of her own battles with know-it-all editors, Craft boasts a cast of characters that won’t easily be forgotten. A first-generation immigrant from Brasilia, Brazil, Lima crafts innovative work that challenges traditional North American ideas about how stories should operate, what makes an immigrant narrative, how the intellectual is placed in opposition to the emotional, and whom these ideals ultimately serve.

Read the excerpt. 

 

A Bag Full of Stones by A. Molotkov

Image of A. Molotkov's headshot.

This savvy, intelligent, and delightful detective story follows pair of investigators in Portland, Oregon—a Russian immigrant man and a Black woman—as they try to solve a series of hate-crime murders. Told in the alternating perspectives of the investigators and the ghosts of the murdered immigrant victims, this wild whodunnit set in an America tranquilized by sectarian politics brings (back) to life the voices of those who are often overlooked or dismissed. With a focus on characters struggling to reconcile their distorted worldviews with reality, A Bag Full of Stones encapsulates how confused the notion of justice has become in a nation more divided than ever. Skillfully blending different lexicons, points of view, and narrative structures, A. Molotkov, a writer born in the former USSR, showcases the multifarious, inventive possibilities of immigrant writing in the United States.

Read the excerpt.

Read Excerpts by the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing 2022 Finalists
Read more...

Antropófaga

By ANANDA LIMA

Excerpt from Craft.

 

She devoured tiny Americans that slid out of a vending machine. Their thin metallic plastic packages almost opened themselves when punctured. Emerging with their tiny hands on either side of the rip, they declared their nutritional value (calcium, sugar, fat, 350 mg of synthetic protein). So many times she decided to diet and promised: no more Americans. But she always walked by, with an eye on the spot between the Ruffles and the Doritos, salivating. And before thinking, there she was again, inserting the coins, hot and sweaty from her palms, into the machine’s mouth.

Antropófaga
Read more...

Excerpt from BETWEEN THIS WORLD AND THE NEXT

By PRAVEEN HERAT

 

“Mr. Federenko come soon,” the driver said, lugging Fearless’s duffel up the stairs.

Above, on the landing, he saw a blur of pattering feet and what looked like a cowled figure disappearing through a door—but it must have been his mind playing tricks, he told himself. And the rain was disorienting; it hammered on the stairwell’s skylight like a hundred hundredweight of masonry nails tossed from above. Fearless’s work as a war photographer had taken him everywhere save Asia, so the sheer speed and volume of the monsoon surprised him. When the driver led him through the open door of a whitewashed apartment, he was stunned to see the water reaching pedestrians’ knees from its balcony, the thoroughfares now canals traversed by cars and tuk-tuks that left parabolae of foam rippling in their wake. Clothes stuck to people’s skin. Ropes of water twisted from awnings.

Excerpt from BETWEEN THIS WORLD AND THE NEXT
Read more...

Brenda Smith

By A. MOLOTKOV

Excerpt from A Bag Full of Stones.

 

The dry spot on the pavement vaguely resembled a human shape. “Where’s the body?” Detective Brenda Smith asked.

The residential street was lit with soft yellow lights floating over a long hedge. The moon sat on top of a building on their left. The air smelled of water: rain, rot, autumn. It was 6:17 a.m. Brenda was cold, her skin tight from the sense of dread and responsibility.

Brenda Smith
Read more...

Excerpt from Endangered Animals

 BY LISA LEE HERRICK

Lisa Lee Herrick is a finalist for the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing.

The illuminating essays in Lisa Lee Herrick’s Endangered Animals describe contemporary Hmong American culture and community with journalistic vigor and a keen sensitivity. With great authority, Herrick interrogates what is lost in personal, ancestral, and cosmic terms when a family leaves the homeland that holds their history, their forebears, their mythologies. Displaying a deeply felt sense for the customs, rituals, and folkways that re-evoke left-behind terrain, she conjures it anew amidst the unfamiliar realities of immigrant life. How do we maintain a diasporic culture? How can we uphold and bolster the spirit in the face of war, migration, and forced adaptation and erasure? These essays of startling range and vision provide new ways of thinking about these essential quandaries of our age.

This excerpt is adapted from an essay originally published by Emergence, which was included in Best American Essays 2021.

 

Days before California governor Gavin Newsom mandated the statewide stay-at-home order on March 19, 2020, which effectively paused all nonessential economic activity and travel for nearly forty million residents, a Facebook post from a publishing acquaintance popped up in my news feed. His collage of photos and videos were taken, he claimed, during a past trip to China years ago, and they caught my eye because they featured an array of skewers arranged in neat, vertical piles—including grubs and scorpions—heaping piles of brown foods garnished with chopped scallions, and a balding, middle-aged Chinese man, lips pursed, clearly enjoying his meal. Above it, my acquaintance wrote: A few photos/videos from a “live animal market.” Any questions? I held my breath, watching the flurry of gray ellipses begin to dance in the comments.

Excerpt from Endangered Animals
Read more...

Read Excerpts by the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing 2021 Finalists

The ethos of the modern world is defined by immigrants. Their stories have always been an essential component of our cultural consciousness, from Isaac Bashevis Singer to Isabel Allende, from Milan Kundera to Yiyun Li. In novels, short stories, memoirs, and works of journalism, immigrants have shown us what resilience and dedication we’re capable of, and have expanded our sense of what it means to be global citizens. In these times of intense xenophobia, it is more important than ever that these boundary-crossing stories reach the broadest possible audience.

Now in its sixth year, the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing supports the voices of immigrant writers whose works straddle cultural divides, embrace the multicultural makeup of our society, and interrogate questions of identity in a global society. This prize awards $10,000 and publication with Restless Books to a writer who has produced a work that addresses the effects of global migration on identity. This year’s judges, Francisco Cantú, Shuchi Saraswat, and Ilan Stavans, have selected the below four finalists. Click on the links in each section to read excerpts from their books.

Read Excerpts by the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing 2021 Finalists
Read more...

Excerpt from Drifts

By NATASHA BURGE

Natasha Burge is a finalist for the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing.

A strikingly original exploration of autism and psychogeography, Natasha Burge’s Drifts takes us through the souks, caves, and sands of the Arabian Gulf to create a loving and sensorial meditation on place and transcultural identity. In gorgeous poetic prose, Burge probes her unfurling awareness of autism, connecting seemingly tangential thoughts and wanderings with the anchored histories of the Arabian Gulf. The scenic and descriptive power of Burge’s writing is remarkable, bringing to life vivid landscapes, city streets and markets, desert sunsets, and unseen waters flowing beneath the earth.

The following excerpt includes material originally published by The Smart Set.

 

Preface

An editor suggests I write about being an alien. This word I like, with its superabundance of meaning. It reminds me of visa stamps crowding an already full passport, of space shuttles and star dust and loneliness. It rings true.

Excerpt from Drifts
Read more...

Excerpt from By Its Right Name

By ANI GJIKA

Ani Gjika is a finalist for the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing.

By Its Right Name is a courageous and profoundly intimate story of recognizing and reclaiming the power of one’s sexuality. Ani Gjika intricately reconstructs her personal history in America, Albania, and beyond, naming traumas that often remain unspoken. By Its Right Name is a different kind of immigrant story, one that demands that we consider the specific, insidious ways that patriarchy controls a woman’s relationship to desire and sex, as well as to her body, mind, and expression. With a poet’s ear, Gjika finds language for confronting patriarchy, misogyny, and the male gaze on the most intimate of terms, ultimately revealing the transformational power of self-discovery through the written word.

 

Sometimes there’s a father I wish I had. He picks me up at school high-fiving me just as I run out the door into the schoolyard.

“How was it?” he asks. “How’d you do in the exam?”

“I nailed it!” I say, all joy and pride around my father.

“Didn’t I tell you?” he says. “If you put in the work, you can do anything.”

Excerpt from By Its Right Name
Read more...

Mama from the Other Island

By NATALI PETRICIC

Natali Petricic is a finalist for The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing. 

 

We were the only family in the village to spend a few dinars on a photo. This was right after the second World War. Dalmatia was freed of Italian rule, and we were all poor, but I had a feeling I’d need that picture one day. I sat on a boulder, holding little Tomislav, bundled in woolen blankets, not more than a year old. Branko stood beside me, his hand on my shoulder. He was eight. A pile of wilted dark leaves were strewn around the large rock. Even though it was cold, I made Branko wear his good shorts with suspenders. His long pants were worn thin and patched at the knees. We all stared ahead, even Tomislav. It was as if he understood something important was happening and this wasn’t a moment for fussing.  

Aloysius is missing. The thought flickers through my mind each time I look at the photo. I never mention the baby I lost. Why burden others? But I think about him every time I hold the black and white, willing him to appear.

My sister-in-law criticized me about the photo, cackling in the fields with others. “She spent money on a photo, while he slaves away on the boats. My brother’s wife, from the other island…” She began all of her laments about me like that. As if in the polje voices don’t echo. As if I were deaf. As if sooner or later, one by one, the villagers wouldn’t absorb me as one of their own in spite of themselves, as people do in these parts.  They called themselves Catholics—church-goers, all of them. In my village, they warn of the self-proclaimers. If you do something, just do it. Don’t announce all over the hamlet that you never miss church. Don’t announce the amount you place on the plate passed around. 

Mama from the Other Island
Read more...

Read the “Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing” Finalists

Now in its fifth year, the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing supports the voices of immigrant writers whose works straddle cultural divides, embrace the multicultural makeup of our society, and interrogate questions of identity in a global society. This prize awards $10,000 and publication with Restless Books to a writer who has produced a work that addresses the effects of global migration on identity. This year’s judges, Dinaw Mengestu, Achy Obejas, and Ilan Stavans, have selected the below five finalists. Click on the links in each section to read excerpts from their books.  

 

 

Read the “Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing” Finalists
Read more...