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It Occurs to Me That I Am America
New Stories and Art
Table of Contents
About The Book
When Donald Trump claimed victory in the November 2016 election, the US literary and art world erupted in indignation. Many of America’s preeminent writers and artists are stridently opposed to the administration’s agenda and executive orders—and they’re not about to go gentle into that good night. In this “masterful literary achievement” (Kurt Eichenwald, author of Conspiracy of Fools), more than thirty of the most acclaimed writers at work today consider the fundamental ideals of a free, just, and compassionate democracy through fiction in an anthology that “promises to be both a powerful tool in the fight to uphold our values and a tribute to the remarkable voices behind it” (Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU).
With an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and edited by bestselling author Jonathan Santlofer, this powerful anthology includes original, striking art from fourteen of the country’s most celebrated artists, cartoonists, and graphic novelists, including Art Spiegelman, Roz Chast, Marilyn Minter, and Eric Fischl.
Transcendent, urgent, and ultimately hopeful, It Occurs to Me That I Am America takes back the narrative of what it means to be an American in the 21st century.
- Publisher: Atria Books (January 16, 2018)
- Length: 400 pages
- ISBN13: 9781501179624
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Raves and Reviews
“On its own, this chorus of brilliant voices articulating the shape and texture of contemporary America makes for necessary reading; that this collection also supports the ACLU, the fiercest and most noble defender of our freedoms, makes it urgent as hell.”
– —LAUREN GROFF, author of Fates and Furies, The Monsters of Templeton, and Arcadia
“At this time in our history, it is imperative that the narratives we put forward illuminate rather than confound, elevate rather than suppress, and embrace rather than isolate. This dazzling volume of talented artists and writers, like the ACLU that it supports, does just that.”
– —ADAM D. WEINBERG, Alice Pratt Brown Director, Whitney Museum of American Art
“It’s bracing to see such a remarkable and gifted group of writers come together in support of civil liberties and American ideals at this particularly troubling time in our history.”
– —JULIE OTSUKA, author of The Buddha in the Attic and When the Emperor Was Divine
“An anthology that celebrates the radical freedom of the imagination, and the power of art to redraw the lines of our shared reality.”
– —KAREN RUSSELL author of Swamplandia! and St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves
“If literature is ‘news that stays news’, how often do we get to see it blaze out like this, as an audacious rebuke to the headlines? These writers will help you feel proud to live in this country again.”
– —JONATHAN LETHEM, author of A Gambler’s Anatomy, The Fortress of Solitude, and Motherless Brooklyn
“This book is filled with powerful writers articulating what they care about so deeply: our country, depicted here with beauty and emergency. I hope many, many people read this book and help support democracy in this urgent moment.”
– —MEG WOLITZER, author of The Interestings, The Ten-Year Nap, and Belzhar
“A visceral reminder that storytelling gives us the opportunity to change our minds about strangers, and thus is an essential tool for re-teaching empathy to a nation that is trying—and hopefully, failing—to live with a closed heart.”
– —COURTNEY MAUM, author of Touch and I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You
“It Occurs to Me That I Am America is a masterful literary achievement, one that should enter the pantheon of great books. More than a collection of fine works by some of our country’s most accomplished and talented writers and artists, it is a telling reflection of the America we have become in these troubled times and communicates a hope for the American we can be. For a nation consumed by anger and blindness, it is a critical salve to remind us all of what it means to be an American. And it should be required reading for future generations, so that the knowledge of who we are is never again forgotten.”
– —KURT EICHENWALD, Vanity Fair contributing editor and author of The Informant and Conspiracy of Fools
“There is a pitch battle in progress for the soul of our country. The writers and artists in this anthology represent a wide spectrum of views but each speaks for and to our better nature and to a vision of the United States in which all can thrive in a moment of crisis when others seek to reduce us to the worst possible, most exclusive view of our collective capacities. Their contributions are patriotism in practice. Reading and looking at their work we have reason to take heart and fight harder when the stakes could hardly be higher.”
– —ROBERT STORR, Professor, Yale University
“I can't think of a better act of #resistance than an anthology that brings together some of America's fiercest fiction writers and visual artists to reclaim our country—and our flag—from the fever dream of Trumpism. Its glories, to quote Walt Whitman, are ‘strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings.’ Read it and feel renewed.”
– —BENJAMIN ANASTAS, author of An Underachiever’s Diary and Too Good to be True
“Hooray for the warty, flawed, wondrously and painfully nuanced life experience that is America! A spectacular assemblage of inspired art and thought-provoking prose, at a time when we all need to be reminded of the power of story, the urgency of the current political moment, and the precious and often precarious nature of our democracy and our civil liberties.”
– —DENISE KIERNAN, author of The Last Castle and The Girls of Atomic City
“Of course, not all American literature tells a tale of grace and justice. But what the best stories do have in common is their faithfulness to the deepest truths, compelling us to see our world as it is now, in all its imperfections, or else showing us what it could look like, redeemed. These artists and writers continue that grand tradition and, in this incredible volume, do so in support of our best values: the pursuit of civil liberties, the freedom to create, and the chance to live the lives we choose. It Occurs to Me That I Am America is a battle cry: We will not be silenced.”
– —MATTIE KAHN, ELLE.com writer covering politics, culture, and dangerous women
“What a remarkable thing, to see so many names, from all over the world, giving voice to our collective story. It inspires awe and hope, like America itself.”
– —JOHN KENNEY, author of Truth in Advertising
“When the fundamental values of our country are under attack, writers and artists pick up their pens, head to their computers, and write brilliant pieces that demonstrate the joys of our differences and the power of our shared humanity. This book entertains, charms, and supports the ACLU. I can’t think of a more delightful purchase.”
– —JANE ISAY, author of Walking on Eggshells
"A terrific collection of short stories and art, which you will enjoy reading even more because the book supports the ACLU. Needed now more than ever."
– —DICK CAVETT, longtime television talk-show host
“We are both thrilled and humbled to see that so many great writers and artists have come together to support the ACLU as we confront the greatest civil liberties crisis of our time. History has shown the crucial role artists play in challenging injustice during times of crisis. This anthology promises to be both a powerful tool in the fight to uphold our values and a tribute to the remarkable voices behind it.”
– —Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU
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