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About J. Malcolm Garcia
J. Malcolm Garcia is the author of The Khaarijee: A Chronicle of Friendship and War in Kabul; What Wars Leave Behind: The Faceless and Forgotten; Without A Country: The Untold Story of America's Deported Veterans; Riding through Katrina with the Red Baron's Ghost: A Memoir of Friendship, Family and a Life Writing; Fruit of All My Grief: Lives In the Shadows of the American Dream; and A Different Kind of War: Uneasy Encounters in Mexico and Central America. His book, Most Dangerous, Most Unmerciful: Stories from Afghanistan, will be published by Seven Stories Press in July 2022. Garcia is a recipient of the Studs Terkel Prize for writing about the working classes and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for excellence in journalism. His work has been anthologized in Best American Travel Writing, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and Best American Essays.
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Akashic Books’ groundbreaking, globetrotting noir anthology series sets all-new stories in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respective metropolitan area. Now “Kansas City, famous for its jazz, its barbecue, and its shady history, provides the venue for this solid addition” (Publishers Weekly).
This collection includes brand-new stories from J. Malcolm Garcia, Grace Suh, Daniel Woodrell, Kevin Prufer, Matthew Eck, Philip Stephens, Catherine Browder, John Lutz, Nancy Pickard, Linda Rodriguez, Andrés Rodríguez, Mitch Brian, Nadia Pflaum, and Phong Nguyen.
“Hard-used heroes and heroines seem to live a lifetime in the stories . . . Each one seems almost novelistic in scope. Half novels-in-waiting, half journalistic anecdotes that are equally likely to appeal to Kansas City boosters and strangers.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Travel has many unexpected benefits, so even if you’ve never had a reason to visit the city itself, you’ll find Kansas City Noir surprisingly well worth the price of the ticket.”—Bookgasm
“Picture steam rising from a sewer grate on a rain-slicked street. The sound of footsteps comes closer and closer behind you as you walk down a dark, downtown Kansas City alley. If this scenario entices you, then you just might enjoy Kansas City Noir.”—Kansas City Public Television
"Garcia does an excellent job at describing the [region's] history of institutional and governmental corruption."
--San Diego Union-Tribune.
"A Different Kind of War: Uneasy Encounters in Mexico and Central America documents peoples' lives, interactions, disappearances and threats, and the changing atmospheres of their worlds...These stories often read with the quiet drama of fiction."
--Midwest Book Review
"I was riveted by these tales of mean streets and lost souls, just as I was inspired by the portraits of those brave people who face down despair every day, and persevere."
--Daniel Alarcón, author of At Night We Walk in Circles
"In many ways, A Different Kind of War is an update of Luis Alberto Urrea's powerful1993 book Across the Wire: Life and Hard Times on the Mexican Border, but what one discovers is that life has become even more precarious for the poor in Guatemala and Mexico. Read this book if you dare."
--David Unger, author of Life in the Damn Tropics
"This collection illustrates that while one writer cannot save the world and all its woes, he can write about those individuals risking their own well-being to help others, and in turn make a difference in all our lives by chronicling their stories of compassion, mercy and fortitude as Garcia so lyrically does in A Difference Kind of War."
--Tina Schumann, editor, Two-Countries: U.S. Daughters and Sons of Immigrant Parents, and author of Requiem. A Patrimony of Fugues.
"This collection of essays by J. Malcolm Garcia is a must-read for those who want to better understand the plight of common people victimized by the hardships of life outside and inside the belly of the beast."
--Álvaro Huerta, Ph.D., author of Reframing the Latino Immigration Debate: Towards a Humanistic Paradigm
"[T]here's a writer named J. Malcolm Garcia who continually astounds me with his energy and empathy. He writes powerful and lyrical nonfiction from Afghanistan, from Buenos Aires, from Mississippi, all of it urgent and provocative. I've been following him wherever he goes."
When he first arrived in the country, Garcia met Khalid, a young Afghan he affectionately called Bro, who became his driver, interpreter, and, eventually, his friend. Bro in turn called Garcia the khaarijee—the outsider. He told Garcia he wasn't responsible for his new friend's life, but at least two times saved it. He instructed Garcia to avoid dogs because they were rabid, then helped him steal a puppy from an organized dog fight. Bro told him to be wary of street children, only to assist him in feeding and educating six homeless, war-orphaned boys. Bro was Sancho Panza to Garcia's Don Quixote, and together they faced the consequences of war, life without the Taliban, and Afghanistan's uncertain future.
The Khaarijee tells this story of two strangers, one dog, and six orphans thrust together after 9/11—an intersection of paths that, by all rights, should never have crossed. At a time when Afghanistan is on the brink, Garcia offers a gritty, raw, and unsentimental memoir about friendship, loss, and wanting to make a difference in the midst of a war-torn country, extending The Khaarijee beyond much travel writing and war reportage.
In What Wars Leave Behind, J. Malcolm Garcia reveals the people and pain behind the statistics. He writes about impoverished families scraping by in Cairo’s city of the dead, ordinary Syrians pretending all is well as shells explode around them, and others caught in conflicts that rage long after the cameramen have packed up and gone away.
Garcia describes his travels in some of the world’s hotspots in Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. In a series of personal travel essays that read like short stories, he exposes the endless messiness of war and the failings of good intentions, and he traces their impact on the lives of natives in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Kosovo, Chad, and Syria. He discovers amazing resilience among people who must struggle just to survive each day.
Garcia gives readers the sort of gritty detail learned from immersing himself in other cultures. He eats the food, drinks the tea, and endures the oppressive heat. These are the stories of how a middle-class guy from the Midwest with a social work degree learned to experience and embrace the cultures of Third World countries in conflict—and lived to tell the tale.
Praise for J. Malcolm Garcia
“There’s no question Garcia is a talented writer…His use of dialogue shows there’s more to journalism than the inverted pyramid, and his tone is so sincere that readers are sure to turn each page with respect.” —The Internet Review of Books
"Timely and compelling, Garcia provides a glimpse beyond the easy headlines.” —Kirkus Reviews
J. MALCOLM GARCIA is a freelance writer and author of The Khaarijee: A Chronicle of Friendship and War in Kabul and What Wars Leave Behind: The Faceless and the Forgotten. He is a recipient of the Studs Terkel Prize for writing about the working classes, and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for excellence in journalism. His work has been anthologized in Best American Travel Writing, Best American Essays, and Best American Nonrequired Reading. His book, Without a Country: The Untold Story of America's Deported Veterans will be published in September 2017.
BRIAN TURNER'S latest book is My Life as a Foreign Country: A Memoir. His two collections of poetry: Here, Bullet and Phantom Noise have also been published in Swedish by Oppenheim forlag. His poetry and essays have been published in The New York Times, National Geographic, Poetry Daily, The Georgia Review, Virginia Quarterly Review and other journals. Turner earned an MFA from the University of Oregon before serving for seven years in the US Army. He directs the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College and serves as a contributing editor at The Normal School.
In Riding through Katrina with the Red Baron's Ghost, Garcia chronicles his relationship with Titler. It was that connection that brought Garcia to New Orleans only two weeks after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city and its citizens. Not having heard from his friend in years, Garcia made the split-second decision to go to New Orleans to try to find the man who meant so much to him.
A harrowing account of New Orleans directly after Katrina—told in Garcia's award-winning journalistic style—Riding through Katrina with the Red Baron's Ghost tells a personal story of a thirty-year bond that defined a young man, as well as the universal story of the horror and devastation Katrina left in its wake.
J. Malcolm Garcia has travelled across the country and abroad to interview veterans who have been deported, as well as the families and friends they have left behind, giving the full scope of the tragedy to be found in this all too common practice. Without a Country analyzes the political climate that has led us here and takes a hard look at the toll deportation has taken on American vets and their communities.
Deported veterans share in and reflect the diversity of America itself. The numerous compounding injustices meted out to them reflect many of the still unresolved contradictions of our nation and its ideals. But this story, in all its grit and complexity, really boils down to an old, simple question: Who is a real American?
"J. Malcolm Garcia has channeled the empathetic ear of Studs Terkel and the investigative skills of the best literary journalists ... These stories will remain in the heart and mind’s eye forever.” –Beth Taylor, author of The Plain Language of Love and Loss
Reporting from Kabul and Kandahar between 2001 and 2015, J. Malcolm Garcia tells us what actually happened to the Afghan people as the conflict between first world nations and fundamentalists raged. In telling the stories of ordinary Afghans, Garcia shows the impact of years of occupation and war—and the sudden and harsh changes as new occupiers push in—on a people and their culture.
Garcia meets Laila Haidary—everyone calls her “mother”—who, with no resources to speak of, gives addicts living on the street one month of detoxification and clean living, while at the same time sending her own children to make the perilous journey to Western Europe as best they can. And there is nine-year-old Ghani, who earns a few dollars a day collecting cans on the street to support his two brothers and sister now that his father has died of a brain tumor. There are the translators and fixers Garcia hires, who risk their lives working for foreigners against the warnings of the Taliban, and also the US soldiers who don’t understand what their mission is here, and why they can’t just do what they are trained to do, which is to seek out and kill the enemy.
J. Malcolm Garcia has been compared to the Russian writer Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature, for how the voices of everyday people ring out in the stories he tells. Most Dangerous, Most Unmerciful is an essential work of literature that documents one of the true disasters of our age, at the same time as it celebrates the human endurance and ingenuity of the Afghans we meet in these pages, and affirms the role journalists can play to make sure their stories can be heard.