“The story we need to hear right now in the only voice that can tell it.”—Lidia Yuknavitch
Publication date is June 1, 2018.
Winner of The Kore Press 2016 Memoir Award, selected by Lidia Yuknavitch
Refuge is a book of lyric essays about a young woman’s life as a budding writer and an international development and aid worker. Spanning twelve years and multiple continents, it focuses in large part on her advocacy and theater work with refugees. From crossing the border into one of Syria’s refugee camps in 2013; to an interview with a man who fled Aleppo for the peace and security of Sweden in 2015; to working in a sustainable forestry foundation near Siberia in 2003; to taking the train from Mongolia to China to visit the home and wife of an exiled writer in 2008; to founding a self-sustaining theater project with Congolese refugee women in a slum of Nairobi in 2013; to finding George Oppen’s old typewriter in the attic of a farmhouse in Maine in 2004; to working as a nude model for artists’ groups in college—the work these lyric essays illuminates is that of a twenty-something year old woman trying to find herself and her world by putting her body in places, within boundaries, others might not ever consider stepping foot inside of.
Praise for Refuge
“To aim yourself and to stumble, in your twenties, without the blessing of money, all across the world into the meanings of your life, into the meanings of the lives of others: it doesn’t happen to many. And very few would have the lush, the significant writerly gifts to render the experiences so strikingly. It is as though each journey, each foreign and familiar place mines Ming Holden and makes visible her thoughtful, tender, aching, passionate self.”—Forrest Gander, author of As A Friend
“Refuge deserves the accolades it has received. In it, Ming Holden travels two paths: a lyrical and objective memoirist of her own evolution as a young woman in the 21st Century, she also is a witness to the brutality of her time, specifically to the fate of refugees, victims of political persecution and war. She carries her exquisite self-awareness to the conflict in Syria, camps for the displaced in Africa, and the lonely refuge of exiles in Asia—projecting their sufferings as if they were her own. Such a clear bifocal vision is a rare literary achievement.”—Mark Minton, former United States Ambassador to Mongolia
“Ming Holden is living an extraordinary life. These stories weave many strands together in evocative, tender, and sometimes heartbreaking ways.”—Anne-Marie Slaughter, President & CEO, New America
Ming Lauren Holden is an activist, actor, translator, educator, humanitarian aid and development worker, theater artist, and writer who was raised on a zebra ranch on California’s central coast. Ming has worked in the international development sector on four continents in thirteen countries since 2003. She studied Literary Arts at Brown, earned her MFA at Indiana University, and is pursuing a PhD in Dance and Theater at UCSB.