This week’s other featured books, “The Shaman of Turtle Valley,” by Clifford Garstang and “Hotel Obscure,” by Lisette Brodey, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.
THE BOOK: Green Card & Other Essays
PUBLISHED IN: April 2019
THE AUTHOR: Áine Greaney
THE PUBLISHER: Wising Up Press, GA
SUMMARY: GREEN CARD & OTHER ESSAYS maps Greaney’s journey from being a 24-year-old immigrant landing alone in a huge new country to becoming a newly-minted and ambivalent U.S. citizen registered to vote in, and write about, life in that country. A blend of introspective, memoir and opinion essays, Greaney’s work offers a window into the issues faced by all immigrants from all countries.
THE BACK STORY: I was inspired to write the title essay, “Green Card” after a trip to my local USCIS office to renew my U.S. residency. This is what you have to do every 10 years to stay and work legally in the United States. The first draft of that essay wanted to be written in second person, so I went with it. I decided to discard it, but first, I read it to a group of teen writers at a school where, back then, I had a writers residency. The young students surprised me with their vehemence and advocacy and they begged me to keep and re-work the essay, Of course, they also reminded me that “you’re always on our case about being ready to draft and re-draft your work, so why won’t you?” That was in 2011, which, in terms of immigrant attitudes and policies, I now regard as our “age of innocence.”
I wrote the other essays and published them in various publications such as Salon, Litro, New Hibernia Review, Books by Women and The Irish Times. Then, as things became more vitriolic about immigrant and asylum seekers’ rights, I realized that I wanted to collect the individual essays into a book.
WHY THIS TITLE?: A green card is a casual name for your U.S. residency card. The card, by the way, isn’t green at all and I’d bet it’s not even manufactured in the United States. So as “Green Card” was the title of one of my previously published essays which, by the way, was cited in “Best American Essays,” this seemed like a good title for the book overall. There would have been a time when it might have confused readers, but now that immigrant is front and center in our national debates, I went with it.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Topically, I don’t think my book is entirely unique. There are many immigrant memoirs out there, and I checked out and read many of them before I collected my short works into a full-length book.
What is unique, I’m told, is my own narrative voice and my willingness to be so frank about the conflicted sense of belonging that is inherent to being an immigrant in any country. One beta reader asked me why someone like me (read: white, long-tenured, middle class (hah!)) would even want to write a book like that in the first place. So when I edited the essays for a complete book, I was much clearer about where my intent and my loyalties and the fact that I feel it my duty to write and speak for those immigrants who are either too busy working three low-wage jobs or too scared to write on their own behalves.
“An acutely serious contribution to the literature of immigration in our times.” — James Silas Rogers, author, Irish American Biography
“Perhaps the book’s greatest strength is Greaney’s voice itself: heartfelt, honest and intimate; the essays read like a conversation with an old friend. ” — The Merrimack Valley Magazine
“Green Card & Other Essays is a must read — we need more of these voices to educate us about immigrant experiences to dissipate our false perceptions.” — Savvy Verse & Wit
AUTHOR PROFILE: Áine Greaney is an Irish-born author who never wrote or published anything until she emigrated to America in 1986.
Since then, her work has been published and broadcast in the U.S., Ireland, the U.K. and Canada. In addition to her five books, her essays and articles have appeared in Creative Nonfiction, NPR/WBUR, The Boston Globe Magazine, Salon, The Drum, New Hibernia Review, Litro Magazine, The Wisdom Daily and other outlets. Her awards and shortlists include a citation in “Best American Essays.” Also, “Sanctuary,” her essay about family bereavement, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has presented or co-presented at national and regional conferences and discussion panels. She also teaches writing workshops.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: “The trick in writing first-person essays is that you have to balance the personal with the public or political. For essays to be effective, they must connect author to reader and, in the best cases, invite the reader to re-see something about a facet of life. As an author, if five readers came back to me to tell me that my essays gave them a new insight into the issues of immigration, displacement and all of our conflicted sense of identities, I would probably rush out and buy myself a cake and shove some fancy candles in it and sing myself a little song. Then I would write back to those readers and thank them profusely.
LOCAL OUTLETS: Jabberwocky Books, Newburyport. Or direct from the publishers: Wising Up Press (http://www.universaltable.org ). If you buy it I can also mail you a hand-signed book plate or a book plate signed for the person to whom you are gifting the book.
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & noble, etc.
PRICE: $12 at the publishers; $16 at online bookstores such as Amazon.