It Occurs to Me That I Am America: New Stories and Art (Touchstone)
It Occurs to Me That I Am America: New Stories and Art features fiction from more than thirty-five of today’s most celebrated authors, writing about the American experience and the fundamental ideals of a free, just, and compassionate democracy. With contributions from writers such as Michael Cunningham, Louise Erdrich, Alice Walker, Neil Gaiman, Ha Jin, Richard Russo, Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Mary Higgins Clark, Julia Alvarez, Walter Mosley, Alice Hoffman, Paul Theroux, and Stephen L. Carter, an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winner, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and edited by bestselling author Jonathan Santlofer, It Occurs to Me That I Am America will also include original, striking art from fourteen of the country’s most acclaimed artists, cartoonists, and graphic novelists, including Art Spiegelman, Roz Chast, Marilyn Minter, and Eric Fischl. It Occurs to Me That I Am America will be published in support of the American Civil Liberties Union upon the one-year anniversary of the Inauguration of President Trump and the Women’s March on Washington.
“As I remembered this presidential election, what became clear to me was that the contest for our American identity wasn’t strictly a political affair,” writes Viet Thanh Nguyen in the book’s introduction. “It is also a matter of storytelling. The struggle over the direction of our country is also a fight over whose words will win and whose images will ignite the collective imagination.” It Occurs to Me That I Am America is an effort to take back the narrative of what it means to be an American in the 21 st century.
“The genesis of this book came shortly after the 2016 presidential election,” said Jonathan Santlofer. “I presented the idea to Touchstone’s David Falk, who has championed it since the beginning. It Occurs to Me That I Am America aims to address the anxiety many Americans are feeling about losing the freedoms for which we’ve fought; to remind us of America as an international symbol of hope; and considers the most basic notion of all: what it means to be American.”
“I am grateful for the time and creative work Jonathan Santlofer and all the contributors have devoted to this project in support of the ACLU,” said David Falk, Vice President & Associate Publisher at Touchstone, who is editing the book for Touchstone. “During this period of political and cultural uncertainty, the goal was to provide a podium and canvas for the contributors to be heard and seen. The result is a one-of- a-kind collection that boldly declares who we are as Americans, representing the diverse voices that weave the rich fabric of our democracy. Our hope is to demonstrate how the power of fiction and art can open minds and
create much-needed discourse.”
Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU said, “We are both thrilled and humbled to see that so many great writers and artists have come together to support the ACLU with the publication of It Occurs to Me That I Am America—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.”
Viet Thanh Nguyen is the author of The Sympathizer, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2017, as well as Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, shortlisted for the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction. A recipient of Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellowships, he also wrote the short story collection The Refugees and edited the forthcoming collection The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives.
photo by BeBe Jacobs
Mimi Pond is a cartoonist, illustrator, and writer. Her most recent books are the semi-autobiographic graphic novels Over Easy and The Customer is Always Wrong about her late 1970s Oakland waitressing career. She has created comics for the Newyorker.com, the Los Angeles Times, Seventeen Magazine, National Lampoon, and many other publications. She has also written for television: her credits include the first full-length episode of The Simpsons, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”, and
episodes for the television shows Designing Women and Pee Wee’s Playhouse. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, the painter Wayne White.
photo by Lydia Burdick
Jonathan Santlofer is a writer and artist. He has published five novels including the The Death Artist, the Nero award winning Anatomy of Fear, and many short stories. He has been editor/contributor of several anthologies as well as the New York Times bestselling serial novel Inherit the Dead. His artwork has been exhibited widely in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and is in such public and private collections as the Art Institute of Chicago, Tokyo’s Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Newark Museum of Art, among many others. Santlofer is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants and serves on the board of Yaddo. His memoir, The Widower’s Notebook, will be published by Penguin Books in July 2018.
photo by Clarke Tolton