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    Top of Your Stack: Recommendations from Book Passage

    The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina (fiction) by Zoraida Cordova
    For Latinx Heritage Month or anytime of the year, this is a stirring tribute to the importance of cultural legacy. The Montoyas are used to a life without explanations. They know better than to ask why the pantry never seems to run low or empty, or why their matriarch won’t ever leave their home in Four Rivers—even for graduations, weddings, or baptisms. But when Orquídea Divina invites them to her funeral and to collect their inheritance, they hope to learn the secrets that she has held onto so tightly their whole lives. Instead, Orquídea is transformed, leaving them with more questions than answers. Alternating between Orquídea’s past and her descendants’ present, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina is an enchanting novel about what we knowingly and unknowingly inherit from our ancestors, the ties that bind, and reclaiming your power.

    On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (fiction) by Ocean Vuong
    This stunning debut novel from 2019 is still haunting its original reading fan base, attracting new ones, and garnering critical praise. It is now in paperback. It is a unique story with an even more unique approach and style by poet Ocean Vuong. The novel is written as a letter from a son, at the time in his late 20s, to his mother who is illiterate. The letter/story (the narrator-protagonist called Little Dog) reflects back on his life as the son born to a Vietnamese immigrant single mother. Throughout, he gives images of a harsh upbringing and struggles with his sexuality and lack of acceptance. The harsh background was due, in part, to the abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother, a pattern carried on because she too had been abused throughout her life in Vietnam. It’s as if when she beats him, she is in a trance and unaware of what she is doing and the toll it will take on his young life.

    The pages are filled with ruminations on being beaten down by life and survival, as well as the importance of throwing out a lifeline to one another. Stylistically, it often bounces in and out of thoughts and rhythms, more like stream of consciousness writing than a traditional format or pattern. It is not surprising that Ocean’s background is rooted in poetry and would serve as his transition into literary fiction. It’s an impressive debut novel with a distinctive voice.

    Not a Nation of Immigrants (nonfiction) by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

    This powerful counter-narrative to traditional U.S. history books is a compelling must-read. Throughout it debunks the pervasive and self-congratulatory myth that our country is proudly founded by and for immigrants, and urges readers to embrace a more complex and honest history of the United States.

    Whether in political debates or discussions about immigration around the kitchen table, many Americans, regardless of party affiliation, will say proudly that we are a nation of immigrants. In this bold new book, historian Dunbar-Ortiz asserts that this ideology is harmful and dishonest because it serves to mask and diminish the U.S.’ history of settler colonialism, genocide, white supremacy, slavery, and structural inequality, all of which we still grapple with today. She explains that the idea that we are living in a land of opportunity—founded and built by immigrants—was a convenient response by the ruling class, and its brain trust to the 1960s demands for decolonialization, justice, reparations, and social equality.

    Upcoming Events

    Saturday, October 9 @ 4 pm (online) – Immigration in America Special Panel
    We have a new administration and seemingly a whole new set of issues regarding immigration. While the Biden administration is acting on a number of fronts to reverse Trump-era restrictions on immigration, they are also incurring other obstacles of their own. Among those items is the pressure to do more for asylum-seekers and migrants, to stop increased hate crimes against Asian-Americans, and to help Afghan refugees in the U.S. Delving into these and other issues will be a powerful panel of authors and agents of change. Book Passage invites you to listen to the discussion and be part of the solution. 

    Tuesday, October 12 @ 1 pm (online) – The Kaeperneck Effect
    This event will share riveting and inspiring first-person stories of how “taking a knee” triggered an awakening in sports, from the celebrated sportswriter Dave Zirin. In 2016, amid an epidemic of police shootings of African Americans, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began a series of quiet protests on the field, refusing to stand during the U.S. national anthem. A book about the politics of sport and the impact of sports on politics, The Kaeperneck Effect is for anyone seeking to understand an essential dimension of the new movement for racial justice in America.

    Friday, October 15 @ 7 pm (in-person/ticketed event at Dominican University) – Midnight in Washington
    In the years leading up to the election of Donald Trump, Congressman Adam Schiff had already been sounding the alarm over the resurgence of autocracy around the world, and the threat this posed to the U.S. But as he led the probe into Trump’s Russia and Ukraine-related abuses of presidential power, Schiff came to the terrible conclusion that the principal threat to American democracy now came from within. In Midnight in Washington, Schiff argues that the Trump presidency has so weakened our institutions and compromised the Republican Party that the peril will last for years, requiring unprecedented vigilance against the growing and dangerous appeal of authoritarianism.

    Published on October 7, 2021