We are pleased to announce the publication of our second book, Common Boundary: Stories of Immigration. There are twenty-nine works (from nineteen contributors) that treat the theme of immigration (including international adoption) with candor, humor, and insight. Without question, this is a book that will touch you in many ways as it hits home for virtually all of us, whoever we are, wherever we are.
The original idea for an immigration anthology goes back to (at least) 2003, mostly because of our connection to the international adoption community. But we did not want to do an adoption book. At that time, we envisioned getting together college students from eastern Europe – Russia, Baltic states, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, Balkans, etc. In fact, we did get together many such students, and they were all interested in sharing their experiences of coming to America to study (while using the perspective of their home countries to create such narrations). We had several meetings and many discussions, and we contacted a university press which seemed interested in the concept; but the project never got off the ground.
So, we came back to the idea – and it seemed timely. Important, however, is that when you read these stories you will experience what we did as we vetted submissions: rather than creating a timely book our authors have given us stories that are timeless. We really did seek to make a book that would last, that would stand the test of time, that would be an anthology but would read cumulatively as a whole, and our authors – all of us together – have succeeded in reaching our goal.
Just take for instance, the work by Rivka Keren, “They Set Sail in Springtime,” or Ruth Sabath Rosenthal’s, “Into the Light: Safe Haven 1944,” or John Guzlowski’s, “Wooden Trunk from Buchenwald” – all so-called immigration stories of another generation that have transcended time by touching on war, identity, and home. These stories might be timely because of what you read in the newspaper today, but these stories are timeless since they continually intrigue us, constantly pull us back to take another look at origins and major questions. In another instance, read Nahid Rachlin’s “What We Call Home,” a subtle and masterfully-told story of a mother’s difficult decision, after she had come to America to be with her son and daughter, to return to Iran and be with her sister. Ruth Knafo Setton’s “Living Between Question Marks” is one of the most lyrical, honest, and yet metaphorical pieces, touching on past and present, here and there, self and other.
Many of the pieces, of course, deal with language. To that end, we’ve included some excellent poetry by Roy Jacobstein and Muriel Nelson, who in some poems capture the essence of crossing over (figuratively, birthing) – coming into which world, whose world? Even some of the prose pieces are close to poetic, such as the play extract (a monologue) by Cassandra Lewis or the very creative dictionary entry, “Fig,” that weaves into it a personal narrative, by Eva Konstantopoulos.
The volume is not without humor – seriously. Dagmara J. Kurcz has fun with “Cheekago”; George Rabasa tackles issues of the immigrant fitting in with “The Unmasking of El Santo” (a diminutive superhero) and “La Santa Papa” (a giant potato); Mitch Levenberg, in his inimitable style conjures both the wit of Woody Allen and absurdity of Franz Kafka simultaneously in “The Plain Brown Envelopes.”
There are some pieces closer to creative non-fiction, memoirs, that candidly explore what it means to be an immigrant – those for instance by Omer Hadžiselimović, M. Neelika Jayawardane, Azarin A. Sadegh, and Rewa Zeinati. These stories in particular, timely since they are personal narratives of people among us, address in a big way the questions of immigration in terms of national identity. These are the immigrant stories of today – but not the ones you see on national television. The personal reflection by Janice Eidus is particularly special, since it addresses not only the theme of immigration but the sub-topic in which we were interested, international adoption and how the child and parents’ lives both become part of the immigrant experience.
The collection begins with “How He Made It Across,” by Patty Somlo – a classic tale (a mini epic) of odyssey, and ends with “Blue Painted Field” by Tim Nees – a somewhat abstract story if read on its own but one that aptly concludes (in fact finishes) the book by bringing together all of the operative metaphors about immigration – loneliness, alienation, self-questioning, doubt, and uncertainty about the past and future.
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From the Foreword by Jason Dubow, MFA: “. . . this book is really an anthology of anthologies: a collection of stories in which the old inextricably blends with the new, in which the tensions between what has been lost and what can be gained are grappled with (but, inevitably, not resolved), and in which the human capacity to imagine a future and make it real (more or less) is explored from a variety of different perspectives. Here’s the essential question: now that I am no longer there but here, Who am I? The answers, the stories – various, contingent, authentic – have made me, in a Whitman-esque sense, ‘larger,’ and they will you too. And so, when you’re done reading, ask yourself: Who now am I?”
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From the Preface by Publisher Fredericka A. Jacks: “Common Boundary includes many varieties of immigration stories. A culture is a country’s language, its customs, and the collective thinking or attitude of the people . . . The shifting attitude . . . experienced over . . . English acquisition . . . represents a paradox: on the one hand, there is an attempt to accommodate someone from another country; on the other hand, the immigrant person is always perceived as something foreign. There’s a common boundary – being part of and yet being apart from others.”
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Common Boundary: Stories of Immigration consists of twenty-nine creative works by nineteen authors on the theme of immigration – what it means to be an immigrant – with candor, humor, and insight. Edited by Scholar, Professor, and Pushcart Prize nominee, Gregory F. Tague, Ph.D.
Some Honors and Awards Won by these Authors Include: O. Henry Prize, Bennet Cerf Award, PEN Syndicated Fiction Project Award, James Wright Poetry Prize, Pushcart Prize Nominations, NEA Grants and Fellowships, New Millenium Writings.
Contributors: Janice Eidus, Omer Hadžiselimović, John Guzlowski, Roy Jacobstein, M. Neelika Jayawardane, Rivka Keren, Eva Konstantopoulos, Dagmara J. Kurcz, Mitch Levenberg, Cassandra Lewis, Tim Nees, Muriel Nelson, George Rabasa, Nahid Rachlin, Ruth Sabath Rosenthal, Azarin A. Sadegh, Ruth Knafo Setton, Patty Somlo, Rewa Zeinati.
Available immediately via Amazon.com. By late July ask your Bookseller, or shop Barnes & Noble online (or other online retailers). [COMMON BOUNDARY: Stories of Immigration. 198 pages; paperback; ISBN: 978-0982481936; $15.95US]