Friday 1 March 2019 9:06am
A migrant lives in the space between self and other. The personal essay expresses this sense of location – and dislocation – the way no other genre does.
The Braided River explores contemporary migration to New Zealand through an examination of 200 personal essays written by 37 migrants from 20 different countries, spanning all ages and life stages.
The first book to examine migration through the lens of the personal essay, The Braided River presents migration as a lifelong experience that affects everything from language, home, work, family and friendship to finances, citizenship and social benefits.
Like migrants themselves, The Braided River crosses boundaries, working at the intersections of literature, history, philosophy and sociology to discuss questions of identity and belonging. Throughout, Diane Comer, both migrant and essayist herself, demonstrates the versatility of the personal essay as a means to analyse and understand migration, an issue with increasing relevance worldwide.
Diane Comer was born in Italy and grew up in the Dominican Republic, Belgium and the United States. She studied non-fiction writing at the University of Iowa and received her PhD from the University of Canterbury. Her essays have been published in AGNI, The Georgia Review, Fourth Genre and elsewhere, and were noted in the Best American Essays series. Diane lived in the US and Sweden before migrating with her husband and two children to New Zealand in 2007. She teaches at Victoria University of Wellington.
'Gorgeously written in clear and concise prose, this work reflects on home and self in its connection to past and present, old and new, and the many vagaries that come to define migratory life.' – International Migration Review (2020)
'The Braided River is an excellent resource for migrants who want to reflect more deeply on their experiences. I recommend it also for those who may have personal or professional connections with migrants — and in a society so diverse as New Zealand, that’s practically everyone.'
– Joey Domdom, Tui Motu 239, July 2019
– Harry Ricketts, Nine to Noon, Radio New Zealand National 9 April 2019
Paperback, 304 pages, 978-1-98-853153-3, $35