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Trespass: Ecotone Essayists Beyond the Boundaries of Place, Identity, and Feminism

Here twenty contemporary women writers trespass across various confines—imposed upon body, gender, race, sexual orientation, class, national origin, and more—to explore the theme of place in their lives: the places they travel, the places they call home, the places they have carved for themselves in the world despite every obstacle.”

May-lee Chai, from the foreword



Traveling across time and place―from a Minnesota summer camp to the peacock-lined streets of Kerala, India―these essays reveal their authors as artful and singular observers of their homes, lives, and histories. Emerging writers along with celebrated voices in the field, including Belle Boggs, Camille T. Dungy, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and Terry Tempest Williams, reclaim spaces that have always been theirs.

Observing the policing of Detroit, Aisha Sabatini Sloan bears witness to environmental racism, and finds community with family and neighbors. Toni Jensen traces the erasure of Native culture on college campuses and challenges notions of safety in light of sexual and gun violence. Laurie Clements Lambeth paints the strength and fragility of the human body through the lens of a progressive neurological disease. And Shuchi Saraswat’s trip to the Bay Area to document a ceremony honoring Ganesha leads her on her own journey home.

Originally published in the pages of Ecotone, the award-winning literary magazine that reimagines place, these essays recount how women uniquely shape and are shaped by their environments. Together, they spark new conversations, showing the ways we forge identity through larger cultural considerations―in our bodies, our neighborhoods, and the natural world.

ISBN: 9781940596297
Price: $18.95
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Size: 5.5 x 8.5
Pages: 296
Format: Trade paper with French flaps
Essay collection

advance praise

“In a nation still wholly obsessed with diversity, the writers in Trespass manage to brilliantly situate themselves in the sinew of liberation, loss, and love. By foregrounding the prose, possibilities, and politics of place, race, and gender, each writer in this iconic collection goes beyond the space of reckoning. The book conjures a tomorrow anchored in, but not predictably dictated by, yesterday. This is a once-in-a-generation book.”

Kiese Laymon

author of Heavy: An American Memoir



“The women in this volume write breathtakingly beautiful and complex essays dealing with what Terry Tempest Williams repeatedly asks in her essay ‘A Disturbance of Birds’: ‘How shall I live?’ and ‘How shall we live?’ Isn’t this another way of asking ourselves, how do we persevere in the midst of rupture? How do we repair and heal selves, families, nations, earth?”

Lucy Kogler, Lit Hub

Nineteen Books You Should Read this April


advance praise

“In this exquisitely written collection of essays, women explore the ways we make our lives out of and inside places, and how we are connected across distances by empathy, narrative, and imagination. In the course of unpacking their stories―of migration, of family, of home―they tell greater stories: about history and identity, loss and transformation, writing and making one’s self.”

Jasmin Darznik

New York Times bestselling author of The Good Daughter


advance praise

“Since its founding in 2005, Ecotone has been publishing work that enriches our understanding of nature, identity, and place. As evidence, here are twenty revelatory essays, all by women, on subjects ranging from birth to death, including race and religion, family roots, enduring beauty, and the healing of self and world. Eloquent, insightful, diverse in background and voice, these writers bring us news that matters.”

Scott Russell Sanders

author of Earth Works: New & Selected Essays


About the Author

May-lee Chai is the author of ten books of fiction, nonfiction, and translation, including the memoir Hapa Girl and the recent story collection Useful Phrases for Immigrants, which won the Bakwin Award for Writing by a Woman. Her writing has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Jack Dyer Fiction Prize, and the Asian / Pacific American Award for Literature; named a Kiriyama Prize Notable Book; and given honorable mention for the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights Book Award.

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