A map is only one story Twenty writers on immigration, family, and the meaning of home

Book - 2020

From rediscovering an ancestral village in China to experiencing the realities of American life as a Nigerian, the search for belonging crosses borders and generations. Selected from the archives of Catapult magazine, these essays highlight the human side of immigration policies and polarized rhetoric, as twenty writers share provocative personal stories of existing between languages and cultures.

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  • Introduction /
  • Nicole Chung and Mensah Demary
  • Why we cross the border in El Paso /
  • Victoria Blanco
  • A map of lost things /
  • Jamila Osman
  • My Indian passport is a bitch /
  • Deepti Kapoor
  • This hell is not mine /
  • Kenechi Uzor
  • Arab past, American present /
  • Lauren Alwan
  • How to write about your ancestral village /
  • Steph Wong Ken
  • Carefree white girls, careful brown girls /
  • Cinelle Barnes
  • Return to partition /
  • Nur Nasreen Ibrahim
  • Undocumented lovers in America /
  • Krystal A. Sital
  • Say it with noodles /
  • Shing Yin Khor
  • My grandmother's patois and other keys to survival /
  • Sharine Taylor
  • The dress /
  • Soraya Membreno
  • What Miyazaki's heroines taught me /
  • Nina Li Coomes
  • How to stop saying sorry when things aren't your fault /
  • Kamna Muddagouni
  • The wailing /
  • Nadia Owusu
  • Writing letters to Mao /
  • Jennifer S. Cheng
  • Dead-guy shirts and motel kids /
  • Niina Pollari
  • Mourning my birthplace /
  • Natalia Sylvester
  • Should I apply for citizenship? /
  • Bix Gabriel
  • How to write Iranian America; or, the last essay /
  • Porochista Khakpour.
Review by Booklist Reviews

How do we define who we are? Where do we look for our origins? What pieces of place—border lines, citizenship status, recipes handed down generations—do we connect with our core identities? Catapult editors Chung (All You Can Ever Know, 2018) and Demary (co-author of Common's memoir Let Love Have the Last Word, 2019) have gathered from the magazine's archives this anthology of personal essays centering on home and identity. Contributions grapple with migration to new countries and cultures, finding a sense of home, and growing up with legacies of other homes. Cinelle Barnes writes to the white surfing instructor who worked as a drug runner while Barnes herself tried to live quietly without documentation. In a beautifully-drawn graphic essay, Shing Yin Khor depicts their grandmother's noodles to show how food can convey love. Sharine Taylor describes her grandmother hiding her Jamaican Patois to blend in while living in Toronto. Each narrative draws readers close, offering sight lines into private lives and conflicts. The talented writers gathered here offer wide-ranging perspectives essential for our current environment. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Editors Chung and Demary compile essays on the immigrant experience. Standout pieces include Cinelle Barnes's "Carefree White Girls, Careful Brown Girls," Krystal A. Sital's "Undocumented Lovers in America," and Shing Yin Khor's illustrated essay "Say it with Noodles." The literary world has seen an explosion of crossing narratives lately; it is easy to forget about the increasingly nuanced, complicated, and human ways that immigrant lives unfold after arrival. This collection contributes to the burgeoning canon of works set beyond the crossing. The essays move like ink in water, dispersing in infinite directions to illuminate psychologies, family dynamics, steamy affairs, vibrant foods, politicized accents, and particular kinds of losses. Most powerful of all is its subtle work of demonstrating that violent immigration policies implicate everyone in a country, immigrant and citizen alike. Victoria Blanco conjures this in "Why We Cross the Border in El Paso," writing of the deaths that take place in the Rio Grande. VERDICT A standout collection that adds new dimension and depth to the lived experiences of immigrants long after they settle in a new community.—Sierra Dickey, Ctr. for New Americans, Northampton, MA Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Catapult magazine editor and memoirist Chung (All You Can Ever Know) and Catapult founder Demary (coauthor, Let Love Have the Last Word) show how "literature can provide a pathway to greater empathy and understanding" in this collection of essays gleaned from the magazine's archives and focused on the theme of immigration to the U.S. (and, in one piece, Canada). It features writers from the world over, including both documented and undocumented immigrants, as well as first-, second-, and third-generation Americans. Some contributors, such as Sharine Taylor writing about her Jamaican immigrant grandmother's sly use of patois, focus on older relatives ("Patois was our secret, allowing us to be in the English world and then escape to Jamaica through language"); others confront past and future choices with ambivalence ("Should I—an immigrant to, a writer in, and a critic of the United States—apply for citizenship?" Bix Gabriel asks at the end of an essay detailing her odyssey from India and concern over the Trump presidency). Other essayists relate encounters with racism, clueless natives, and fellow migrants. This collection is a vital corrective to discussions of global migration that fail to acknowledge the humanity of migrants themselves. (Feb.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

In the first published anthology of writing from Catapult magazine, twenty writers share stories of migration, family, the search for home and belonging, and what it means to exist between languages and cultures

Review by Publisher Summary 2

From rediscovering an ancestral village in China to experiencing the realities of American life as a Nigerian, the search for belonging crosses borders and generations. Selected from the archives of Catapult magazine, the essays in A Map Is Only One Story highlight the human side of immigration policies and polarized rhetoric, as twenty writers share provocative personal stories of existing between languages and cultures. Victoria Blanco relates how those with family in both El Paso and Ciudad Juárez experience life on the border. Nina Li Coomes recalls the heroines of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki and what they taught her about her bicultural identity. Nur Nasreen Ibrahim details her grandfather’s crossing of the India-Pakistan border sixty years after Partition. Krystal A. Sital writes of how undocumented status in the United States can impact love and relationships. Porochista Khakpour describes the challenges in writing (and rewriting) Iranian America. Through the power of personal narratives, as told by both emerging and established writers, A Map Is Only One Story offers a new definition of home in the twenty-first century.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

From rediscovering an ancestral village in China to experiencing the realities of American life as a Nigerian, the search for belonging crosses borders and generations. Selected from the archives of Catapult magazine, the essays in A Map Is Only One Story highlight the human side of immigration policies and polarized rhetoric, as twenty writers share provocative personal stories of existing between languages and cultures.Victoria Blanco relates how those with family in both El Paso and Ciudad Juárez experience life on the border. Nina Li Coomes recalls the heroines of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki and what they taught her about her bicultural identity. Nur Nasreen Ibrahim details her grandfather’s crossing of the India-Pakistan border sixty years after Partition. Krystal A. Sital writes of how undocumented status in the United States can impact love and relationships. Porochista Khakpour describes the challenges in writing (and rewriting) Iranian America. Through the power of personal narratives, as told by both emerging and established writers, A Map Is Only One Story offers a new definition of home in the twenty-first century.