Category Archives: Memoir

10 things a clueless eater can do: Guest post by ‘The Deepest Roots’ author Kathleen Alcalá

DeepestRoots_AlcalaKathleen Alcalá is a Bainbridge Island writer who has long been one of the Pacific Northwest’s most powerful voices in fiction, essays, and memoir. Her most recent book, The Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island, combines deep historical research and personal interviews in a rousing narrative that uses her home island as an example for exploring issues around sustainability and society. 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.

In the spirit of the New Year, this guest post from the author offers steps each of us can take to live more thoughtfully and sustainably, so we can take better care of ourselves and our communities—both now and for the future.

10 Things a Clueless Eater Can Do

Join us for this special author event:

January 10 at 7 p.m. // Elliott Bay Book Company co-presented with Friends of the Farms, Capitol Hill

Kathleen Alcalá makes her welcome Elliott Bay return with her newest book. Joining will be Heather Burger, director of Friends of the Farms, a nonprofit that helps the farmers tell their stories as well as market their products, and Bob and Nancy Fortner of Sweetlife Farm, who are eager to share their back to the land story.

1. Keep a garden!
Even if you have no land, or in our case, sun, you can borrow or rent land suitable for gardening. If not, keep potted herbs on your windowsill. Indoor plants also improve the quality of the air.

2. Save seeds.
If your garden grows in abundance, note which plants do especially well in your climate. Let a couple go to seed, and keep some of the seeds to be stored in a cool, dry, dark place for the following year. Be sure and label them with the date, and anything else you know about the plants. This means that the seeds best suited to your micro-climate will be preserved and passed on.

3. Join Community Supported Agriculture.
Subscribe to a local CSA that will provide you with groceries almost year-round. You can pick up your groceries once or twice a week, and many deliver to a location near you. Besides vegetables, many CSAs now offer dairy and meat products. Continue reading

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.

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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Welcome to Seattle…

…the best literary, outdoorsy, artsy, techy, coffee-loving, dog-friendly, mountain-viewing, whale watching, ferry-riding, Sasquatch-sighting, beer-drinking, farmers market-strolling, rainy/misting/drizzling (but wow the summers and the green!), reading city in the world!

My favorite thing to do when I arrive in a new city is to find the closest local bookstore. Not only are they great spaces for relaxing or meeting people, but they often lead to the discovery of local authors and events and provide a sense of the histories, nuances, and people of the city.

Whether you’re new to Seattle, just passing through, or a local looking for new adventures, the University of Washington Press has an expansive array of books to help you discover our city. They cover everything from Seattle’s intertwined urban and Native histories, the evolution of Seattle’s gay communities, growing up Japanese American during World War II, local activism and civil rights, the plight and reclamation of our river, the history of music in Seattle, of animalstopography, food, art and architecture, and weather! We hope you’ll consider stopping by your indie bookstore and checking for our W logo in the stacks of books.

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And once you’re ready, here are some fun places to read while exploring your new city!

Read: The Deepest Roots

Where: On the ferry heading over for a day trip to Bainbridge Island.

Read: Too High and Too Steep

Where: What used to be Denny Hill in South Lake Union.

Read: Classical Seattle

Where: At Benaroya or McCaw Hall during intermission.

Read: Once and Future River

Where: Before or after a kayak trip on the Duwamish.

Read: The Landscape Architecture of Richard Haag

Where: Beneath the shadow of the industrial landmark at Gas Works Park.

Read: Shaping Seattle Architecture

Where: On a bench in historic Pioneer Square.

Read: Walking Washington’s History

Where: On the water taxi on route to an Alki walk.

Read: Birds of the Pacific Northwest

Where: Discovery Park, the largest city park in Seattle.

Read: Northwest Coast Indian Art

Where: wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House on the University of Washington campus.

From the Desk of Rachael Levay: Fall 2016 Sneak Peek

While everyone is hitting the beach or the open road for a summer road trip, the book world is getting ready for fall, our biggest season. Sales reps are currently calling on accounts from coast to coast—independent bookstores, museums, and galleries—and we are working on events, ads, direct mail, and exhibits to ensure our titles reach the broadest audiences possible.

So in the spirit of summer, I’d like to share a few highlights from the Fall 2016 season, books that have already garnered some exciting feedback from buyers, reps, and readers.

Migrating the Black Body: The African Diaspora and Visual Culture, edited by Leigh Raiford and Heike Raphael-Hernandez, explores how visual media has shaped our ideas of diasporic imaginings of the individual and collective self. Featuring a broad range of scholars and artists, this powerful volume features 21 color illustrations and its oversize trim has made it very popular with buyers at museums, particularly in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, and has led many buyers to look more deeply at our backlist titles in African and African American art.

DeepestRoots_AlcalaThe Deepest Roots: Finding Food and Community on a Pacific Northwest Island, by Kathleen Alcalá, explores relevant questions about food and place by looking closely at how the cultural history of Bainbridge Island contributed to its culinary and agricultural makeup. More importantly, though, Alcalá uses this unique place to examine our current relationships to food and show how we can make savvy decisions about our present that will sustainably honor the future. It’s a smart and moving book that should be read by everyone interested in the ways in which food shapes our lives.

My personal favorite from this list is Looking for Betty MacDonald: The Egg, the Plague, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and I, by Paula Becker. Yes, it’s funny and sweet and illuminates a part of the Pacific Northwest’s history that may be fresh to our region’s newcomers, but what’s made it such fun to work on is the sheer delight of my contacts when they remember their first experiences with The Egg and I or the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series. A major library wholesaler buyer sent me pictures of her beloved childhood copies of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books, an events coordinator for one of the country’s best independent bookstores talked at length about the emotional resonance of The Egg and I, a librarian in Illinois wrote to say she recommends MacDonald to patrons every week. We in university presses often get the chance to showcase important topics and spread scholarship that changes academia, but I don’t think I’ve worked on another book that has elicited such delight from early readers. It makes us feel like we’re part of the excitement!

Check out our full list of forthcoming titles in our Fall 2016 catalog.

In Memoriam: Yang Jiang

Credit: Caixin

The renowned Chinese writer Yang Jiang passed away on Wednesday, May 25 in Beijing at age 104. In 1984, University of Washington Press published her account of life during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76),  Six Chapters from My Life ‘Downunder’ (Ganxiao liuji), translated by Howard Goldblatt, who is known for his translations of works by major Chinese novelists, including Nobel Prize-winner Mo Yan. Yang’s New York Times obituary notes that “Goldblatt called [Six Chapters] ‘deeply personal and broadly representative of the “mundane” lives of intellectuals during that time’ — in contrast . . . to the tales of violence and victimization often found in other Cultural Revolution-era memoirs.”

The book brought literary fame to Yang, who was 70 when it was published in Chinese. Judith Shapiro reviewed Goldblatt’s translation of the memoir in the New York Times Book Review:

In richness, moral urgency, and drama, there can be few events of history with greater literary potential than the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Yang Jiang’s “Six Chapters from My Life ‘Downunder,’ ” her slender account of being sent ‘down’ for two years to a re-education school in the countryside, is one of the few memoirs of the period and all the more precious for that. . . . The book was published in China, if only briefly, because Yang Jiang focused on mundane activities. But her avoidance of obviously sensitive subjects in no way diminishes the work’s impact as a commentary on the Cultural Revolution. Many of her major themes have an allegorical quality, and many of her gently stated ironies are powerful indictments of Cultural Revolution policies. . . . In a brilliant inversion of the political lessons of the day, she finds that through collective labor directed by arrogant supervisors, toadies and politically correct spies, “I grew closer to grasping the meaning of ‘class sympathies.’ ”. . . . Yang Jiang’s is a memoir marked by the dignity, absence of recrimination, deep love of country and fatalism typical of her generation.

University of Washington Press also published Goldblatt’s translation of Market Street by Xiao Hong. Goldblatt remarked to us on the pairing of Six Chapters and Market Street: “Of interest to me is that both were written by women born in the same year (1911, the year of the revolution that brought down the monarchy). One, Xiao Hong, died at 30; the other, Yang Jiang, lived to be 104! Both wrote powerful memoirs with neither bombast nor rancor.”

Native American and Indigenous Studies Association 2016 conference preview

Later this week, we head to the 2016 annual meeting of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. The meeting runs from Wednesday, May 18, to Saturday, May 21, and we can’t wait to take part in this new round of scholarly conversations and to debut new offerings in Indigenous studies with scholars, activists, artists, and all attendees!

University of Washington Press director Nicole Mitchell and exhibits, advertising, and direct mail manager Katherine Tacke will represent the press in the exhibit hall, so come say hello at booth 201! Use the hashtag #NAISA2016 to follow along with the meeting on social media, and use promo code WST1614 for 30% off books and free shipping.

If you’ll be attending the meeting in Honolulu, we hope you will stop by to check out our new and forthcoming titles, including new books in the Indigenous Confluences series, as well as to learn more about the new collaborative Mellon-funded Indigenous studies digital publishing platform initiative spearheaded by UBC Press (flyer below).

New and forthcoming from our Indigenous Confluences series:

Indian Blood: HIV and Colonial Trauma in San Francisco’s Two-Spirit Community
By Andrew J. Jolivette

Meet the author at NAISA on Wednesday, May 18!

“This excellent book helps to fill a huge gap in the Native studies literature about mixed-identity gay men and their struggles with multiple oppressions.”—Renya Ramirez, author of Native Hubs: Culture, Community, and Belonging in Silicon Valley and Beyond

Indian Blood makes a significant contribution to the field as the first major work on Native Americans, HIV/AIDS, mixed-race identity, gender and sexuality, and the urban environment. The scholarship is superior.”—Irene Vernon, author of Killing Us Quietly: Native Americans and HIV/AIDS Continue reading