A Stranger's Journey
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A Stranger's Journey

Race, Identity, and Narrative Craft in Writing

Title Details

Pages: 272

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 08/01/2018

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5346-3

List Price: $30.95


Pub Date: 08/01/2018

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5345-6

List Price: $93.95


Pub Date: 08/01/2018

ISBN: 9-780-8203-5368-5

List Price: $93.95

A Stranger's Journey

Race, Identity, and Narrative Craft in Writing

How questions of identity occupy a central place in contemporary memoir

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Long recognized as a master teacher at writing programs like VONA, the Loft, and the Stonecoast MFA, with A Stranger’s Journey, David Mura has written a book on creative writing that addresses our increasingly diverse American literature. Mura argues for a more inclusive and expansive definition of craft, particularly in relationship to race, even as he elucidates timeless rules of narrative construction in fiction and memoir. His essays offer technique-focused readings of writers such as James Baldwin, ZZ Packer, Maxine Hong Kingston, Mary Karr, and Garrett Hongo, while making compelling connections to Mura’s own life and work as a Japanese American writer.

In A Stranger’s Journey, Mura poses two central questions. The first involves identity: How is writing an exploration of who one is and one’s place in the world? Mura examines how the myriad identities in our changing contemporary canon have led to new challenges regarding both craft and pedagogy. Here, like Toni Morrison’s Playing in the Dark or Jeff Chang’s Who We Be, A Stranger’s Journey breaks new ground in our understanding of the relationship between the issues of race, literature, and culture.

The book’s second central question involves structure: How does one tell a story? Mura provides clear, insightful narrative tools that any writer may use, taking in techniques from fiction, screenplays, playwriting, and myth. Through this process, Mura candidly explores the newly evolved aesthetic principles of memoir and how questions of identity occupy a central place in contemporary memoir.

To take honest stock of ourselves and to place our experience within the larger world, this is the task of the ideal writer, work that is made harder in a literary and political climate created to validate the experiences of certain numbers at the expense of excluding and denying even the existence of others of us. David Mura faces this challenge head-on and gives us a book that is essential reading for anyone who considers the writer's art a serious, and sacred, opportunity to transform the world. A Stranger's Journey speaks to writers and teachers willing to embrace the task of complicating our idealized version of reality and who want to push themselves, and others, to face ‘the blemishes and blasphemies’ of our lives with clarity and passion. Mura takes his place among an illustrious group of spirit guides, from Baldwin to Danticat, from Naipaul to Diaz, in showing us exactly how to construct the requisite tools in order to dismantle the master's house.

—author of On Sal Mal Lane

Upon finishing this book, I think that we will no longer be strangers. We will no longer feel that we are on our journey alone. This book is the intersection where our paths meet, where we can forge bonds that transcend the racial divide. Maybe from here on out, we can accompany each other on our journeys as friends and fellow artists, but most importantly, as fellow humans.

—author of The Distance Between Us

A Stranger’s Journey is an essential work of literary criticism and memoir, challenging readers and writers alike to think about writing, race, and identity in new ways."

—Foreword Reviews

David Mura’s A Stranger’s Journey is a new kind of literary criticism—personal, postcolonial, analytic and dramatic—his insights into the situation of the writer of color amidst centrist assumptions and prohibitions open a new field of critical and creative thinking woven together in a book that could have been called ‘Castiglione’s The Courtier Meets Sun-tzu’s Art of War.’

—ALSCW Council member

[This] creative writing book for people of color, which means white people should be reading this & using this, too. Hits all the major problems around race/identity in the teaching of writing.

—Thread Reader

I highly recommend reading David’s important book. It challenges us to think critically about the way we teach craft and its crucial relationship to identity. I learned a lot from it and was really inspired by the content.
One of the strengths of A Stranger’s Journey is that it is not only about race and identity, but also is a practical craft guide centered in questions of story, structure, and technique as applied to exemplar texts of diverse writers of both fiction and nonfiction.

—Kenyon Review

About the Author/Editor

DAVID MURA is a memoirist, novelist, poet, and literary critic. He has written the novel Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire and two memoirs: Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Where the Body Meets Memory: An Odyssey of Race, Sexuality, and Identity.