In this splendid new edition of McSweeney’s, In Their Faces A Landmark: Stories of Movement and Displacement, guest-editor Nyuol Lueth Tong curates a collection of seventeen remarkable new stories from immigrant and refugee writers, the likes of which include Novuyo Tshuma, Maria Kuznetsova, Meron Hadero, and Eskor David Johnson. Inside are stories of home and family, of punctured soccer balls and misused Rolexes, of code-switching and generational divides and burying loved ones and prank-calling 911.

Editor’s Note by Nyuol Lueth Tong

There is a genre called migrant literature. It covers works by immigrant writers, often about the immigrant experience. Among its chief concerns or themes are displacement, movement, belonging, homecoming, departure, arrival, assimilation, bilingualism, and so on. I suppose we can fairly assume this collection of stories by immigrant writers belongs to that tradition. As immigrant writers, creative spirits caught between worlds whose boundaries are ever shifting, often resulting in more displacement and migration, it is comforting to know there exists a coterie to which belonging is conceivable.

That said, we should embrace this veritable genre with caution, for despite its liberating possibilities, it also preserves the very logic of our exclusion, namely our “foreignness,” our “otherness,” often deployed as a mark of inferiority, marginality, and disposability. In other words, it relegates our works to the periphery of provincialism, outside the so-called canon of world literature. Migrant literature is not only a constitutive part of global literature but also arguably its most vital, exciting, innovative element, concerned as it is with exploring themes and questions that are universal and timeless, yet urgent and humane. All the pieces in this issue exhibit this irreducible quality.

Table of Contents

Maria Kuznetsova — I Pledge Allegiance to the Butterfly
Casallina Kisakye — Mrs. Kategaya’s Curse
Ilan Mochari — The Cobbler and the Acolyte
Aya Osuga A. — Five Petals Proud
Meron Hadero — The Wall
Eskor David Johnson — My Mountain is Taller Than All the Living Trees
Edvin Subašić — Cappuccino Please
Marcus Burke — Hennessy and Red Lights
Zeeva Bukai — The Anatomy of Exile
Sanam Mahloudji — Auntie Shirin
Noel Alumit — Brandon
Mina Seçkin — The Four Humors
José Antonio Rodriguez — At the Edge of Omaha
Rita Chang-Eppig — Chinese Girls Don’t Have Fairy Tales
Mgbechi Ugonna Erondu — When God was a Tree with a Glass Eye in the Middle
William Pei Shih — Once a Cellist
Novuyo Rosa Tshuma — Many Scattered a Bench Along the Banks of Coralville Lake