Category Archives: Nonfiction

April 2017 News, Reviews, and Events

News

Seattle Magazine features director Nicole Mitchell and the University of Washington Press in a Spotlight piece: “The University of Washington Press is making a big noise in publishing circles. . . . Whether you’re an academic looking to wow undergrads with a reading list or a general reader aiming to wow yourself, the century-old press has a must-read book for you and an undeniable dynamism.”—Florangela Davila

Indian Blood by Andrew J. Jolivette is a finalist for the 2017 Lambda Literary Award (“Lammy”) in LGBTQ Studies. The winners will be announced at a gala ceremony on June 12, 2017 in New York City. Congratulations to the author and all involved!

Reviews and Interviews

KOMO Radio “Midday News” interviews David B. Williams about Seattle WalksThe National Association of Science Writers (NASW) news and features includes an interview with the author.


Alaska Dispatch News/We Alaskans reviews Menadelook edited by Eileen Norbert: “The story of Menadelook’s life is fascinating and well told and would be a worthy book even without the photographs, but to have the pictures as well makes this volume a treasure. . . . Much like the Menadelook we meet in these pages, this book is modest on the surface, but its contribution to Alaska is profound. It presents a world that would be completely vanished but for the presence of one man and his camera.”—David A. James

NBC Asian America picks Troubling Borders edited by Isabelle Thuy Pelaud, Lan Duong, Miriam B. Lam, and Kathy L. Nguyen as one of its “Six Asian-American Memoirs to Read for Women’s History Month”: “The wide variety of stories told dispel stereotypes and take on the complex challenges of colonialism, militarization, love, resistance, family, migration, and more. They reveal the intersectional and multilayered experiences of Southeast Asian women in the diaspora.”


Seattle Weekly/Seattle Review of Books reviews Kevin Craft’s Vagrants & Accidentals: “The University of Washington Press’ Pacific Northwest Poetry Series has shepherded a gorgeous new collection of Craft’s poetry into being: Vagrants & Accidentals, which feels like a book that’s been bottled up for a decade, just waiting to be introduced to an unsuspecting world. The poetry in Vagrants is eager and obsessed with big ideas like evolution and the act of becoming. . . . Craft argues that without the eyes to see and the lips to speak and the fingers to write, the world may as well not have existed at all. On that same wavelength, a Seattle without Craft’s poetry in it would be a forgettable dot on a map. He breathes life into our world, as an editor, a publisher, and most definitely as a poet.”—Paul Constant

NPR.org’s The Salt blog interviews Puer Tea author Jinghong Zhang in a post about the sought-after fermented tea.


Pacific NW Magazine features an excerpt from Ice Bear by Michael Engelhard.


Outdoor Research’s Verticulture blog features Reclaimers by Ana Maria Spagna in a round-up of OR’s favorite women’s adventure books: “The most influential book I’ve read recently. . . . It’s not a typical story of adventure, but I found it absolutely motivating to get out and learn about our wild places, cherish them, and listen to the stories of people who call them home. It also makes very clear that adventure is not just found high up on a rock face or in a deep snowy couloir – the world is full of places to take risks and dive deep into, to be curious and ambitious and wild and bold.”—Jenny Abegg

“Interfaith Voices” interviews Sanctuary and Asylum author Linda Rabben in an episode about “Welcoming the Stranger.”


KEXP’s “Mind Over Matters Sustainability Segment” interviews Native Seattle author Coll Thrush.


A KUOW interview with Dismembered coauthor David E. Wilkins about the NookSack Tribe aired on “All Things Considered.”


Anchorage Press reviews The Tao of Raven by Ernestine Hayes: “In a lyrically intoxicating style, Ernestine Hayes crafts a . . . mesmerizing story-telling, an alternative world, that reveals as much, if not more, about how our society works, or does not work, for today’s Alaskan Native citizen. . . . Her bold study marries the tragedies of her life with the greater horrors perpetrated upon Alaskan Natives. . . . Hayes manages to wrangle a promising, optimistic tinged message as she closes out her autopsy of what has gone awry. In her inimitable, metaphorical style she voices cause for hope – a prayer that all is not forsaken.”—David Fox


KUOW’s “Speakers Forum” aired a talk by Looking for Betty MacDonald author Paula Becker in celebration of Betty MacDonald’s 110th birthday on March 26.

New Books

A Year Right Here: Adventures with Food and Family in the Great Nearby
By Jess Thomson

Armed with “The Here List” and a Type-A personality, Seattle-based writer and cookbook author Jess Thomson sets out to spend a year exploring the food of the Pacific Northwest with her family. Planning to revel in the culinary riches of the region and hoping to break her son, Graham, of his childhood pickiness, the adventures into the great nearby include building a backyard chicken coop, truffle hunting in Oregon, and razor clamming on the Washington coast. With touching, funny, sometimes devastating stories that we all can relate to, Jess pulls the reader in as she abandons “The Here List” and learns that letting go can be just as important as holding on.

Join us for these author events:

March 30 at 7 p.m., University Book Store, Seattle, WA

April 17 at 7 p.m., Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

April 20 at 7 p.m., Village Books, Bellingham, WA

April 22 at 7 p.m., Phinney Books, Seattle, WA

April 23 at 7 p.m., Powell’s City of Books in conversation with Diane Morgan, Portland, OR

May 8 at 6:30 p.m., Book Larder, Seattle, WA

The Propeller under the Bed: A Personal History of Homebuilt Aircraft
By Eileen A. Bjorkman

On July 25, 2010, Arnold Ebneter (82) flew across the country in a plane he designed and built himself, setting an aviation world record for aircraft of its class. Pilot and aeronautical engineer Bjorkman frames her father’s journey from teen plane enthusiast to Air Force pilot and Boeing engineer in the context of the rise, near extermination, and ongoing interest in homebuilt aircraft in the United States, and gives us a glimpse into life growing up in a “flying family.”

Idle Talk under the Bean Arbor: A Seventeenth-Century Chinese Story Collection
By Aina the Layman
With Ziran the Eccentric Wanderer
Edited by Robert E. Hegel

This landmark collection of twelve short stories from the early Qing (Doupeng xianhua) uses the seemingly innocuous setting of neighbors swapping yarns on hot summer days to create a series of stories that embody deep disillusionment with traditional values. The tales, ostensibly told by different narrators, parody heroic legends and explore issues that contributed to the fall of the Ming dynasty a couple of decades before. These stories speak to all troubled times, demanding that readers confront the pretense that may lurk behind moralistic stances. This collection presents all twelve stories in English translation along with notes from the original commentator, as well as a helpful introduction and analysis of individual stories.

The Nature of Whiteness: Race, Animals, and Nation in Zimbabwe
By Yuka Suzuki

This vivid ethnography explores the intertwining of race and nature in postindependence Zimbabwe. Nature and environment have played prominent roles in white Zimbabwean identity, and when the political tide turned against white farmers after independence, nature was the most powerful resource they had at their disposal. Suzuki provides a balanced study of whiteness, the conservation of nature, and contested belonging in twenty-first century southern Africa. The Nature of Whiteness is a fascinating account of human-animal relations and the interplay among categories of race and nature in this embattled landscape.

Book of the Month Giveaways

Enter to win one of this month’s picks! (Open to US residents only.)

  1. A Year Right Here by Jess Thomson (Entry form)
  2. Birds of the Pacific Northwest by Tom Aversa, Richard Cannings, and Hal Opperman (Entry form)

The giveaways will close on on Friday, April 7, 2017 at 1:00 p.m. PT. The giveaway winners will be notified by Monday, April 10, 2017.

Events

APRIL

April 5 at 6:30 p.m., Jess Thomson, A Year Right Here, Omnivore Books, San Francisco, CA

April 5 at 7 p.m., David B. Williams, Seattle Walks, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

April 6 at 6 p.m., Lorraine McConaghy and Judy Bentley, Free Boy, Performance of Free Boy, the musical, MOHAI Free First Thursday, Free performance of Free Boy, the musical, by 5th Avenue Theatre’s Adventure Musical Theater Touring Company, Seattle, WA

April 6 at 7 p.m., Deborah Elizabeth Whaley, Black Women in Sequence, African American Museum of Iowa, Cedar Rapids, IA

April 7 at 5 p.m., Judy Bentley, Hiking Washington’s History, Words, Writers, and West Seattle, Westwood Village Barnes & Noble, Seattle, WA

April 8 at 11 a.m., Jess Thomson, A Year Right Here, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA

April 15 at 2 p.m., Paula Becker, Looking for Betty MacDonald, Neverending Bookshop, Bothell, WA

April 17 at 7 p.m., Jess Thomson, A Year Right Here, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

April 22 at 6:30 p.m., Paula Becker, Looking for Betty MacDonald, Island Books, Mercer Island, WA

April 20 at 7 p.m., Jess Thomson, A Year Right Here, Village Books, Bellingham, WA

April 22-23, 2017, Darren Speece, Defending Giants, Nonfiction: Nature & Politics, Conversation 1095, Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (University of Southern California), Los Angeles, CA

April 22 at 10:30 a.m., Paula Becker, Looking for Betty MacDonald, Tacoma Public Library, Kobetich branch, with King’s Books

April 22 at 2 p.m., Paula Becker, Looking for Betty MacDonald, Tacoma Public Library, Wheelock branch, with King’s Books

April 22 at 7 p.m., Jess Thomson, A Year Right Here, Phinney Books, Seattle, WA

April 23 at 2 p.m., Judy Bentley, Walking Washington’s History, Everett Public Library, Everett, WA

April 23 at 7 p.m., Jess Thomson, A Year Right Here, Powell’s City of Books, Portland, OR; in conversation with Diane Morgan

April 27 at 7 p.m., Linda Rabben, Sanctuary and Asylum, Annapolis Bookstore, Annapolis, MD (Monthly Book Club selection)

April 29 at 11 a.m., Jess Thomson, A Year Right Here, Book Larder, signing for Independent Bookstore Day, Seattle, WA

April 30 at 4 p.m., David B. Williams, Seattle Walks, Eagle Harbor Books, Bainbridge Island, WA

MAY

May 2 at 7:30 p.m., Carolyne Wright, Kathya Alexander, Laura Da’, Jana Harris, and Holly J. Hughes, Raising Lilly Ledbetter (Lost Horse Press), Town Hall Seattle, Seattle, WA (Tickets $5)

May 3, 2017 at 6 p.m., 12th Annual Literary Voices, Kathleen Alcalá, The Deepest Roots; Paula Becker, Looking for Betty MacDonald; Eileen Bjorkman, The Propeller under the Bed; Moon-ho Jung, The Rising Tide of Color; Tom Reese & Eric Wagner, Once and Future River; Jess Thomson, A Year Right Here; Thaisa Way, The Landscape Architecture of Richard Haag; Margaret Willson, Seawomen of Iceland; North Ballroom at the HUB. Tickets: $150 per person; $1,500 per table, register online

May 5 – 6, Kathleen Alcalá, The Deepest Roots, with Dani Cornejo and Nicole Yanes on Opata language and culture revival, “The Living Breath of wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ“ Indigenous Foods and Ecological Knowledge Symposium, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

May 6 at 11 a.m., Eileen Bjorkman, The Propeller under the Bed, Book signing and fly-in at Harvey Field, Snohomish, WA

May 7 at 7 p.m., Kathleen Alcalá, The Deepest Roots, Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA

May 8 at 6:30 p.m., Jess Thomson, A Year Right Here, Book Larder, Seattle, WA

May 11 at 6 p.m., Paula Becker, Looking for Betty MacDonald, Darvill’s Bookstore, Orcas Island, WA

May 12 – 13, Zuo Tradition / Zuozhuan, translated by Stephen Durrant, Wai-Yee Li, and David Schaberg, UCLA International Institute Asia Pacific Center, Taiwan Studies Lectureship Annual Conference, Los Angeles, CA

March 2017 News, Reviews, and Events

News

Our job posting for the 2017-2018 Mellon Diversity Fellow is now live and we are accepting applications through March 15. If you know of excellent candidates, please send them our way!

Reviews and Interviews


The New Yorker’s Page-Turner blog features No-No Boy by John Okada: “Reading No-No Boy, this week, it no longer seemed bound to its past; it felt like a prophecy, a cosmic tragedy, a message in a bottle that arrives a half century later.”—Hua Hsu


A collaborative piece with PRI’s Global Nation Education and Densho mentions Miné Okubo’s Citizen 13660 in an article about activists working to keep the story of Executive Order 9066 alive today. Bustle also features the book in a round-up of “10 Graphic Novels Written by Activists That You Need to Read Now More Than Ever”: “Heartbreaking, candid. . . . Okubo recounts her experience with poignancy and a surprising amount of humor.”—Charlotte Ahlin

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Holiday Books from UW Press

If your family is anything like mine, the season of giving is a non-stop search for just the right book for everyone in our lives—Mom loves history! Dad loves art! Siblings love local food! Luckily University of Washington Press has you covered with a range of books that will surely appeal to everyone on your list.

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We are delighted to extend a 50% discount to our University of Washington Press community. Please use the code WHOL16 when ordering via our website or when calling customer service at 1-800-537-5487. (Please contact Rachael Levay with any questions at remann [at] uw [dot] edu.)

Feeling lucky? Enter our Holiday Book Bundle giveaway using the form at the bottom of this post for a chance to win free copies of some of our favorite holiday picks, including the ones featured here.

For the animal lover or the art lover:

Ice Bear: The Cultural History of an Arctic Icon by Michael Engelhard combines amazing art and illustrations with a fascinating history of the polar bear. With over 170 color illustrations, Engelhard shows us the full scope of the polar bear’s appeal and ensures you’ll never think of the polar bear the same way.

For the lover of memoir or the literary type:

The Tao of Raven: An Alaska Native Memoir by Ernestine Hayes tells the poignant and lyrical story of Hayes’s return to Juneau and to her Tlingit home after many years away. Interweaving her personal history with the story of the Raven and the Box of Daylight, Hayes illuminates her frustration and anger at what still faces Alaska Natives in their own land while examining her own evolution as a writer.

For the history buff or the outdoorsman/woman:

Defending Giants: The Redwood Wars and the Transformation of American Environmental Politics by Darren Speece tells the riveting history of how the giant redwoods emerged as an icon of the struggle over environment and industry. Bill McKibben says Defending Giants “brings back to life the story of some of the most committed and capable environmentalists I’ve ever known, people who worked on a scale as epic as the forests they fought for.”

For everyone else in the Pacific Northwest:

Birds of the Pacific Northwest: A Photographic Guide by Tom Aversa, Richard Cannings, and Hal Opperman has over 900 illustrations and shows off the birds that live in our coastal rainforest, North America’s northernmost deserts, and the northern/mid-Rockies to the east.

October 2016 News, Reviews, and Events

News

The Washington Center for the Book at The Seattle Public Library announces the finalists in eight categories for the 2016 Washington State Book Awards for outstanding books published by Washington authors in 2015. Congratulations to our finalists Ana Maria Spagna (Reclaimers; Biography/Memoir) and Ruth Kirk (Ozette; History/General Nonfiction). The winners in each category will be announced at the awards ceremony on October 8, 2016. Emcee for the evening is Frances McCue, twice a UW Press finalist for a WSBA (in 2011 for The Car That Brought You Here Still Runs and in 2015 for Mary Randlett Portraits). The awards celebration is free and open to the public.

University of Washington Press shares in the remembrance of Sarah Reichard, who died suddenly in her sleep on August 29, 2016. Dr. Reichard directed the University of Washington Botanic Gardens, was coeditor of Invasive Species of the Pacific Northwest, and advised UW Press on other projects. Read obituaries and details on the October 13th memorial celebration in the Seattle Times and Offshoots (blog of the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences).

Reviews and Interviews

Michael Upchurch reviews Looking for Betty MacDonald by Paula Becker in the Seattle Times: “The Egg and I, The Plague and I and Anybody Can Do Anything practically cavort off the page. How did [Betty MacDonald] do it? Seattle author Paula Becker has some answers in her compact, finely crafted biography.”

Lory Widmer Hess reviews the biography on her Emerald City Book Review blog: “I was delighted to explore MacDonald’s life and work through Paula Becker’s thoughtful, painstakingly researched biography, and even more thrilled to see that University of Washington Press is going to be reprinting three hard-to-find later works by the bestselling author of The Egg and I: Anybody Can Do Anything, The Plague and I, and Onions in the Stew. . . . If you’re not a MacDonald enthusiast, you will be soon. . . . We can be grateful that Becker has preserved it for us in words, and has given us valuable insights into her world, her books, her family, and the writer herself.”

Barbara McMichael reviews in the Kitsap Sun: “The pages zing with unexpected detail and nuggets of lacerating wit. . . If you’re Looking for Betty MacDonald, you need look no further.” Paula’s other book (The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition) and the MacDonald reissues (The Plague and I, Anybody Can Do Anything, and Onions in the Stew) also get mentions.

Steve Donoghue reviews the books at Open Letters Monthly: “A smart and immensely readable portrait, taking readers through MacDonald’s life. . . . Becker has combed every interview and profile, and her book veritably glows with MacDonald’s recaptured wit. . . . Thanks to Paula Becker’s exhaustive research and the compassionate, standard-setting book she’s shaped out of it, 21st century readers can meet a much fuller and more fascinating version of that complex, challenging, laughing woman. Readers of her books will still want to thank her, but thanks to Looking for Betty MacDonald, they’ll know her much better.” The Plague and I (“improbably funny. . . equally remarkable”) and Anybody Can Do Anything (“again improbably funny”) also get mentions.

Bainbridge Community Broadcasting’s “What’s Up Bainbridge” host Wendy Wallace speaks with Paula Becker about the biography and reissues.
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Q&A with ‘The Deepest Roots’ author Kathleen Alcalá

In The Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island, Kathleen Alcalá combines memoir, historical records, and powerful interviews in a charming and timely book that uses Bainbridge Island as a case study for thinking about our relationships with the land and each other. Alcalá meets Japanese Americans imprisoned during World War II, and learns the unique histories of the blended Filipino and Native American community, the fishing practices of the descendants of Croatian immigrants, and the Suquamish elder who shares with her the food legacy of the island itself. We spoke with Alcalá about the book, publishing this fall.

Join us for these events:

October 13 at 7:30 p.m. // Eagle Harbor Book Co., Bainbridge Island Museum of Art auditorium, Bainbridge Island, WA

October 19 at 7:30 p.m. // University Book Store, University District

October 20 at 7 p.m. // Third Place Books-Lake Forest Park

October 27 at 7 p.m. // Hispanic Roundtable of South Sound at South Puget Sound Community College, Latino Youth Summit, Olympia, WA

November 2 at 5:30 p.m. // The Butcher’s Table, “50 Minutes with…” speaker series with University Book Store (2121 Westlake Ave., Seattle)

November 3 at 7 p.m.  // Village Books, Bellingham

November 10 at 6:30 p.m. // Book Larder, Fremont

November 19 from 3-5 p.m. // Seattle7 Holiday Bookfest, Phinney Ridge

December 2 at 7 p.m. // Tattered Cover Book Store, Colfax Avenue, Denver, CO

January 10 at 7 p.m. // Elliott Bay Book Company, Capitol Hill

What inspired you to write The Deepest Roots?

Kathleen Alcalá: In 2010, I wrote an essay about two couples I knew who left other jobs to go into farming. It turned out, each had a fascinating story and philosophy of life to go with that decision. Readers reacted so strongly, I realized I had touched on something fundamental, our relationship to the land, and how people yearn to strengthen that relationship. As a writer of historical, family-based fiction and essays, this was a topic about which I knew zilch. I thought. Then I realized that this was the basis of that family history: our relationship to the land. Understanding this is so important to our survival, and the survival of this island in particular, that I decided to pursue the topic with further interviews and research.

What would you have been if not a writer?

KA: Perhaps an architect, if I had the skills. I am a very visual thinker. I’m very interested in how people relate to their environment through built, or human-made intervention. Architecture is a form of shelter, but how close or how distant it keeps us from nature fascinates me. What the wealthy think they need versus what 90% of the world lives with is also interesting to me, in terms of the built environment. As resources become scarce, or we realize how toxic many of them are, we need to rethink how and where we live and build, so I guess there is some overlap here.

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Behind the Covers: “Looking for Betty MacDonald” and Three New Editions . . .

macdonald-book-3dPaula Becker‘s Looking for Betty MacDonald, the first comprehensive biography of this endearing Northwest storyteller, reveals the story behind the memoirs and the difference between the real Betty MacDonald and her literary persona. In this guest post, designer Thomas Eykemans discusses the process of creating the cover in collaboration with the author and Seattle artist Tom DesLongchamp. He also shares the creation of the covers of three new editions of Betty’s memoirs, Anybody Can Do Anything, The Plague and I, and Onions in the Stew.

There are a million photographs of Betty MacDonald and any one of them could have made a great book cover. The portrait of a beaming bang-free Betty (below, lower left) was inset on many of the covers of her books when they were first published, and Paula describes how this particular image of her was perhaps the most familiar. Regarding The Egg and I:

After only a few months, Lippincott moved Betty’s appealing head shot from the back cover to the front, ditching Bennett’s art. For her readers, the merry pinup-girl author and the yarn she spun were indivisible. From this point on, Egg branded Betty, and Betty branded Egg.

macdonald-portraits

Various photographs of Betty MacDonald.

Despite their prevalence, a photo of Betty seemed too static for a biography about her, and definitely too black and white. Her rich life, warm personality, and merrily snarky attitude required something more energetic and colorful. Tom DesLongchamp is a Seattle-based artist and illustrator whose imaginative style is perfect for the challenge.

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September 2016 News, Reviews, and Events

News

Congratulations to Sylvanna M. Falcón, winner of the National Women’s Studies Association 2016 Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Prize for Power Interrupted, selected “for its clear writing, as well as its adept integration of intersectional and transnational analyses to assess the grassroots feminist work that employs international frameworks when addressing gender and racial issues through the global stage that the UN provides.”

Reviews and Interviews

David Takami reviews Judy Bentley’s Walking Washington’s History in the Seattle Times: “Coming soon to a city near you: clusters of visitors gazing intently at a handheld object as a way to engage with their surroundings. . . . The commendable new book by Judy Bentley. . . . is an immensely appealing approach to writing history. . . . Bentley demonstrates that history is not abstruse and remote from our current experience; it is ever present—and just around the next corner.“

Christian Martin reviews the book on the Chattermarks blog from North Cascades Institute: “Bentley provides brief but engaging historical overviews. . . . There are stories in the ground beneath our feet, dashed dreams lingering in the air, as well as legacies of benevolent forethought from a not-so-distant past all around us.”


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