2017 International Book Awards Finalist

2016 Foreword INDIES Book Award Finalist 

Suspended between continents and cultures, Donald Quist charts the forceful undercurrents of an American identity. Through these essays Quist explores feelings of oppression and alienation as he wrestles with a single act of violence in a Washington, D.C. suburb, racial tensions in a rural South Carolina town, and the welcome anonymity of crowded Bangkok streets. These personal narratives are rich with Quist’s experience growing up as a person of color caught between parents, socioeconomic classes, and the countries he calls home.

Praise for HARBORS

“Quist’s (Let Me Make You a Sandwich) collection of personal essays is tender, smart, funny, and rich with emotional truths and pop culture references.” – Publishers Weekly

“Mastering narrative like other transnational writers such as Díaz and Jhumpa Lahiri, Quist captures coming-of-age dilemmas and family dramas with finesse. Yes, there are countless other essays, short stories, and poems out there currently examining the borderlands of human existence and racial identity. But readers should flock to Quist because he illustrates that being a decent human being isn’t simple or easy. Quist articulates not only his geographical, ethnic, and class complexities well, but explores the grey spaces in between with delicacy and verve.”

– Celeste Doaks, The Millions

Be it via police brutality, hateful speech, or deep-seated ignorance, racism remains baked into the American equation, as Baldwin observed, harmful to all, though destructive for black men and women. In Thailand, Quist is free from such oppression. He can sit and ponder his place in the universe. He can write essays that challenge the bigoted viewpoints of others without fear of physical retaliation. He can begin to find a sense of healing and share it with others through prose, and isn’t that the greatest gift one can ask for?”

– Benjamin Woodward, Cleaver Magazine

“Into the cacophony steps Quist with the fierce voice and loving, but critical eye of a 21st century James Baldwin. And since a whisper draws more attention than a shout, by the time in one of his essays Quist states calmly, clearly, succinctly, “I am angry,” he has us all by the ears and the words resonate to a depth of earth-shaking proportions.”

— Sophfronia Scott, Assay Journal

“Quist doesn’t write of an emergence from hardship and oppression to a glorious apotheosis from his past. America provided and still provides no such thing for him. But from Thailand he has space and time to turn and study his origins. Reconciliation is not the purpose. Nor is self-fulfillment an option. However, self-fidelity is. ”

– Nick Hilbourn, Word Riot

“At a time when honest discussions of race, class, and violence are both necessary and too often simplistic, along comes Donald Quist. Perhaps this is what it takes—a uniquely positioned literary talent—to get us past familiar easy categories. In Harbors, Quist assembles fragments, memories, conversations both real and imagined to reveal people in all their complexity and contradictions as well as the shifting lines of privilege and oppression. As Quist writes of three continents, his slim volume becomes my passport.”

—Diane Lefer, author of Confessions of a Carnivore

“In Harbors, Donald Quist gathers those moments of clarity that shape one man’s consciousness about the black experience in a global environment. Whether it’s growing up in the American South or seeking adventure in places as far away as Thailand, there’s no escaping the fixed perceptions about class, race and masculinity. Quist’s poignant essays show us, however, what it’s like to move through tension, conflict and microaggression with hard-won dignity and grace—not unscathed, not unphased, though certainly undefeated. A timely stellar collection!”

—Rigoberto González, author of Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa

“In Harbors, Donald Quist bravely chronicles his attempts to find safe haven, to carve a space for himself and his humanity in a world where his blackness marks him for second-class citizenship. Quist sifts through the wreckages of his self—of love, of family, of escape across continents—to show readers the scars he’s earned and the pain that still radiates from them. This is a much needed work, the rare collection that enlivens and enlarges the humanity of the reader.”

—Rion Amilcar Scott, author of Insurrections: Stories

About the Author

Donald Quist

Donald Quist is an emerging writer and English language teacher, living in Bangkok.

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