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GRACE TALUSAN reads from her debut memoir THE BODY PAPERS with NOEL ALUMIT

The Body Papers (Restless Books)

Winner of The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing

"Grace Talusan writes eloquently about the most unsayable things: the deep gravitational pull of family, the complexity of navigating identity as an immigrant, and the ways we move forward even as we carry our traumas with us. Equal parts compassion and confession, The Body Papers is a stunning work by a powerful new writer who--like the best memoirists--transcends the personal to speak on a universal level."--Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere

Born in the Philippines, young Grace Talusan moves with her family to a New England suburb in the 1970s. At school, she confronts racism as one of the few kids with a brown face. At home, the confusion is worse: her grandfather's nightly visits to her room leave her hurt and terrified, and she learns to build a protective wall of silence that maps onto the larger silence practiced by her Catholic Filipino family. Talusan learns as a teenager that her family's legal status in the country has always hung by a thread--for a time, they were "illegal." Family, she's told, must be put first.

The abuse and trauma Talusan suffers as a child affects all her relationships, her mental health, and her relationship with her own body. Later, she learns that her family history is threaded with violence and abuse. And she discovers another devastating family thread: cancer. In her thirties, Talusan must decide whether to undergo preventive surgeries to remove her breasts and ovaries. Despite all this, she finds love, and success as a teacher. On a fellowship, Talusan and her husband return to the Philippines, where she revisits her family's ancestral home and tries to reclaim a lost piece of herself.

Not every family legacy is destructive. From her parents, Talusan has learned to tell stories in order to continue. The generosity of spirit and literary acuity of this debut memoir are a testament to her determination and resilience. In excavating such abuse and trauma, and supplementing her story with government documents, medical records, and family photos, Talusan gives voice to unspeakable experience, and shines a light of hope into the darkness.

Praise for The Body Papers

“The Body Papers is an extraordinary portrait of the artist as survivor. From a legacy of trauma and secrecy spanning oceans and generations, Grace Talusan has crafted a wise, lucid, and big-hearted stand against silence—a literary lifeline for all who have endured profound pain and hope to be seen and loved through it.” —Mia Alvar, author of In the Country 

“A Filipino-American writer's debut memoir about how she overcame a personal history fraught with racism, sexual trauma, mental illness, and cancer .... Moving and eloquent, Talusan's book is a testament not only to one woman's fierce will to live, but also to the healing power of speaking the unspeakable. A candidly courageous memoir.” —Kirkus Reviews 

“Grace Talusan’s The Body Papers is one of the fiercest and most intimate books I have ever read. It is a memoir of immigration, of multiculturalism, of family betrayals and loving binds, and deeply a memoir of the body: about the documents and silences that regulate it, and the memories and emotions that live inside it. Talusan has written an urgent and necessary testament for our time. Reading it left me raw. Reading it will change you.” —Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder & A Memoir 

“There is so much to admire in this brave and fierce and deeply intimate memoir. By taking such an unsentimental and plainspoken approach to her material, Talusan simply demands that the reader pay attention. The Body Papers is told in thematic sequences in which the author and the family come continually to light, in flashes that get brighter as we read, and by the end we see everyone in their full humanity and comprehend the depths of both despair and love at their core. As a child of immigrants, I found much to relate to in the family dynamics—alternately laughing and shuddering with recognition.” —Christopher Castellani, author of Leading Men 

“In The Body Papers, Grace Talusan takes us to the space between what official documents say and what the body's cells know—the understated prose startles with its beauty, the insights it provides are priceless.” —Marie Myung-Ok Lee, author of Somebody's Daughter 

Grace Talusan is a writer and writing teacher. As a child, she immigrated to the United States from the Philippines with her parents. She has published essays, longform journalism, fiction and book reviews in Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Boston Magazine, Boston Globe, The Rumpus, and many others. She is the recipient of a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship to the Philippines and an Artist Fellowship Award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and has been awarded residencies to Hedgebrook, Ragdale, and the Dune Shacks in Provincetown. She is a graduate of Tufts University and the MFA Program in Writing at the University of California, Irvine. At Tufts University, she teaches in the English Department and The Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life. She is a longtime member and teacher at Grub Street, an independent creative writing center. She lives outside of Boston with her husband.

Grace Talusan photo by Alonso Nichols

Noel Alumit wrote the novels Letters to Montgomery Clift and Talking to the Moon, a Los Angeles Times Bestseller.  He won the Stonewall Book Award from the American Booksellers Association and has been nominated for the American PEN Award, the Lambda Literary Award, the Asian American Literary Award and others.  His work has appeared in McSweeney's, LA Review of Books, LA Weekly, The Advocate, and USA Today.

Noel Alumit photo by Steve Truong

Event date: 
Saturday, April 27, 2019 - 5:00pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
The Body Papers Cover Image
$22.99
ISBN: 9781632061836
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Restless Books - April 2nd, 2019