Southbound

Essays on Identity, Inheritance, and Social Change

Southbound

Essays on Identity, Inheritance, and Social Change

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A move at age ten from a Detroit suburb to Chattanooga in 1984 thrusts Anjali Enjeti into what feels like a new world replete with Confederate flags, Bible verses, and whiteness. It is here that she learns how to get her bearings as a mixed-race brown girl in the Deep South and begins to understand how identity can inspire, inform, and shape a commitment to activism. Her own evolution is a bumpy one, and along the way Enjeti, racially targeted as a child, must wrestle with her own complicity in white supremacy and bigotry as an adult.

The twenty essays of her debut collection, Southbound, tackle white feminism at a national feminist organization, the early years of the AIDS epidemic in the South, voter suppression, gun violence and the gun sense movement, the whitewashing of southern literature, the 1982 racialized killing of Vincent Chin, social media's role in political accountability, evangelical Christianity's marriage to extremism, and the rise of nationalism worldwide.

In our current era of great political strife, this timely collection by Enjeti, a journalist and organizer, paves the way for a path forward, one where identity drives coalition-building and social change.

A spirited, well-turned collection, suffused with cleansing anger and hunger for change.

—Kirkus Reviews

Anjali Enjeti's Southbound is the conversation you've been meaning to have with a friend about changing the world for the better. Informed, thoughtful, and compassionate, Southbound is required reading for these times.

—Jessica Handler, author of The Magnetic Girl

Southbound is a testament to Anjali Enjeti's fierce eye and knack for landing uneasy truths.

—Mira Jacob, author of Good Talk

Southbound is a potent tonic for our times-ambitious in its scope and refreshing in its candor. These are fiercely intelligent essays that examine the complexities of how power works on, through, and maybe even for us. Recommended reading for anyone interested in doing the same.

—Lacy M. Johnson, author of The Reckonings

I have long been a fan of journalist and activist Anjali Enjeti's work, and I am delighted that her essay collection Southbound delivers on her most admirable legacy. Enjeti does not shy away from investigating her own, her community's, this country's, and in fact the world's casual acceptance of racism and xenophobia in all its many insidious forms. Plus, as a southerner and South Asian woman, Enjeti looks at anti-Blackness from several lenses and offers a model for not just how to acknowledge one's own complicity in the endless atrocities of racism but also how to act and go beyond just the plush label of ally. This book had me in tears many times but the gift of its deep intelligence and candor, the pain and the passion in these pages, gave me a lot of hope for all of us in a pretty hopeless time. This is a book I hope every American reads.

—Porochista Khakpour, author of Brown Album: Essays on Exile and Identity

In 20 essays that combine the literary tools of memoir, reportage, poetry, and non-linear storytelling, the author works to reclaim her identity on her own terms.

—Chris Moody, Chapter 16

Southbound is as much a gripping exploration of the author's life and journey to better understand her identity as a masterfully researched collection of marginalized stories, history, data, art and literature.

—Frances Donington-Ayad, Hippocampus Magazine

Commended

Reads for the Rest of Us, Ms. Magazine

Commended

Most Anticipated Books, The Millions

About the Author/Editor

ANJALI ENJETI is an award-winning essayist who writes about books, politics, and social justice. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Al Jazeera, Boston Globe, Washington Post, and other venues. Her debut novel, The Parted Earth, will be released in the spring of 2021. She teaches creative writing in the MFA program at Reinhardt University and lives with her family near Atlanta.