Your weekly Foreign Bodies roundup
|Dec 9|| 4|
Every Monday, we’ll send readers of immigrant mental health newsletter Foreign Bodies a story (or six) we recently inhaled and adored. This is also a chance to do some housekeeping and give shout-outs and all that jazz. Our Monday Matter roundups are available for both free and paying subscribers.
First things first
A little housekeeping
Enter to win Mira Jacob’s bestselling graphic memoir, Good Talk!
Our last giveaway of 2019 is officially live! I’ll be sending one reader a hardcover copy of Indian American author Mira Jacob’s Good Talk, a bestselling intimate graphic memoir about honest conversations in an interracial family. The winner will receive their holiday gift within the month, packaged with a personalized note from Mira herself. Entries accepted through Friday, Dec. 20 at 11:59 p.m. EST.
Did you see our 2019 books-we-loved post?
Our first lil’ Substack thread was so lovely—thanks to all who participated! Look out for your bookshelf recs in future Monday Matters. If you haven’t participated yet:
Hey, free sign-ups…
Less than one month left until our grant money runs out and we’re fully dependent on readers like you. Your subscriptions help ensure I can devote my time and energy to Foreign Bodies as a freelance writer—and they determine whether I’ll be able to pay the volunteers who’ve been part of this for months.
To be transparent: As of this writing, I’m about 60 annual subscribers short of my December goal, which would allow me to pay my two copy editors for 4-5 hours of work in January. They’re not asking to be paid and have volunteered their time out of love. But they’re both womxn journalists of color and I understand the struggle all too well. Become a patron?
If you're a student, or if you find the cost in any way prohibitive, email me and we’ll figure something out.
Already a subscriber? THANK YOU! Help spread the word?
Resource(s) of the week
Something helpful and interesting and cool
City of Asylum Pittsburgh: Grassroots organization that provides short- and long-term sanctuary to persecuted literary writers through writing residencies. Similar programs available in Las Vegas, Nevada and Ithaca, New York.
Stories we’re loving
Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Taught Me to Break Free from the Model Minority Myth (Vivian Lee, Catapult): Lee grew up in a Southern California suburb where the minority majority was Asian American. She and her friends were taught to be courteous, to never draw attention to themselves and to strive for that protective coat of whiteness, Lee writes for Catapult. Then she came across a Pitchfork review of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, a punk rock band with a spunky frontrunner who looked just like her.
Here's What Happened When My Macho Latino Dad Agreed To Go To Therapy With Me (Lauren David, HuffPost): “He needed me to need him and look up to him in the same way I once had. I needed him to trust me, to let me spread my wings and do things my own way… Deep down, I was sure it was useless to say, but I couldn’t help myself. I felt like I had nothing to lose.” A beautiful first-person essay I wish my own immigrant dad, one who also loves to say he’s “too old to change,” would read.
Exile Poems (Tuhin Das, The Offing): A poetry translation from Bengali by Arunava Sinha. “I planted you, starfruit tree/How are you today?/Have the books on the shelves/Been swept away by dust already?/Have my favourite cats forgotten me?/Will I never see them again?” </3
I Was ‘Too Much’ for Boarding School. But I Had the Garcia Sisters. (Vanessa Mártir, New York Times): “Growing up, I’d read the ‘Sweet Valley High’ series, Encyclopedia Brown mysteries and all the Judy Blume books,” writes Mártir. Then an English professor handed her a new book. Her eyes stopped at the writer’s name, Julia Alvarez. “That’s a Spanish name,” she thought. Reading books by Latina writers taught this novelist her people’s stories were worthy of being told.
In the news
Relevant news coverage that doesn’t really fall under our larger mission to de-stigmatize through personal storytelling, but is still essential reading for anyone who wants to stay up-to-date on immigrant/refugee/mental health.
Their kids died on the psych ward. They were far from alone, a Times investigation found (Soumya Karlamangla, LA Times): Phenomenal work from Carter Fellow Soumya, who sifted through 19,000 pages of hospital inspection records and coroners' reports to create a searchable database on local California psychiatric hospitals.
One sorta unrelated news story on my mind
Blood and Soil in Narendra Modi’s India (The New Yorker, Dexter Filkins): Follow along as Filkins joins India’s no-nonsense investigative reporter Rana Ayyub into Kashmir—India’s only Muslim-majority state—to spotlight just how the narrative of the world’s largest democracy, including much of its press, is being controlled by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu-nationalist, anti-Muslim bigotry. “Even from a moving car,” Filkins writes, “it was clear that the reality in Kashmir veered starkly from the picture in the mainstream Indian press.” Soldiers and machine guns; lifeless streets. Schools closed, prayers banned. “I’m not leaving,” says Ayyub, a Muslim from Mumbai. “I have to stay. I’m going to write all this down and tell everyone what happened.”
Don’t know much about India and Kashmir? Read this before diving in: What Is Article 370, and Why Does It Matter in Kashmir? (Vindu Goel, New York Times)
Books and essays I’m currently reading (plus reader-recommended works!)
Book I’m gifting to a beloved friend for Christmas and will never stop praising: On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. This debut novel from Vuong, who I had the pleasure of hearing speak (and subsequently sobbing in front of) a few months ago, is perhaps my favorite read of 2019. Formatted as a letter from a son to a Vietnamese mother who cannot read, it bears witness to “the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son” and a “brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity.” (Penguin Random House)
Reader rec from Farah Mohammed, who is currently helping copyedit and fact-check our Monday Matters: Mind Fixers by historian Anne Harrington. The book details “the history of psychiatry’s quest to understand the biological basis of mental illness and asks where we need to go from here.” (W. W. Norton & Company)
Remember, we always have tons of wonderful stories and resources available at foreignbodies.net.
Love to see it
Shout-outs, thank-yous and more
Below, a must-watch from Carter Fellows director (and friend) Kari Cobham’s recent TEDxPortofSpain Talk on the language we use around mental illness. The words you hear and use shape your perception. They can lift or break someone in a moment. But what if we changed the way we talk about mental health? Watch the powerful talk here.
Fiza Pirani@fizapirani@4nbodies @hanbae @keerthana__v @LATBermudez @GuernicaMag @pujaashaah @ocregister @reporteratlarge We're also just one month away from being fully dependent on our readers. Here's how you can help us stay aliiiiive: https://t.co/77RfVF06BC
Fiza Pirani@fizapiraniOn #GivingTuesday, consider gifting my immigrant and refugee #mentalhealth newsletter @4nbodies a one-time donation or becoming a paying subscriber for $33/year? Even spreading the word helps. 💌 https://t.co/77RfVF06BC
Thanks so much to John Lombard for his #GivingTuesday donation to Foreign Bodies. Your contribution (and tweet) made my day.
This right here is why Foreign Bodies exists. A sanctuary for unapologetic, immigrant-centered storytelling that helps us feel a little less alone and a lot more understood. Much love to Carter Fellow Myriam Vidal Valero.
Esmeralda Bermudez@LATBermudezYears ago, my husband & I made a choice: We quit celebrating Thanksgiving. The decision came gradually, after many autumns wrestling an uneasy feeling that came each time we gathered to give thanks, to stuff our bellies full. Then we had our first child... https://t.co/YzCit71KAp
Lol @ Khaled Beydoun.
OK, that’s it for now.
Did you absolutely hate this? Open to criticism and suggestions. See ya later!