Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit is an otherworldly meditation on the elasticity of memory, the liveliness of blackness and possibilities of the essay. Aisha Sabatini Sloan manages to produce a collection of essays that are at once innovative, inspiring, sobering, and absolutely terrifying while daring every other essayist in the country to catch up.
—Kiese Laymon, author of How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America
Dreaming, exploring, probing, confessing, Aisha Sabatini Sloan is always on the move. She crosses borders, turns fixed states of mind and heart into fresh sites of possibility and mystery. Those vast charged realities—race, class, gender, geography—become particular here, casting light and shadow on each other in startling ways.
This is a luminous book.
—Margo Jefferson, author of Negroland
I’m so impressed by the critical lucidity of Aisha Sabatini Sloan’s Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit. Essay by essay, paragraph by paragraph, sometimes even sentence by sentence, Sloan roves, guided by a deliberate, intelligent, associative logic which feels somehow both loose and exact, at times exacting. The implicit and explicit argument of these essays is that there’s no way out but through—and maybe even no way out. So here we are, so lucky to have Sloan as our patient, wry, questing companion and guide.
—Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts
Praise for The Fluency of Light (University of Iowa Press, 2013):
One of the most original, startling memoirs I have seen in the past ten years, Sabatini Sloan’s The Fluency of Light charts an entirely fresh course through the tangled territory of race and class in modern-day America. Each page offers fresh insight, unexpected information, crystal-clear thinking on the current cultural moment—a nation about to turn more brown than white, more mixed than ‘pure.’
—Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic and Desire
The Fluency of Light makes a very valuable contribution to the literature of mixed race identity in America… She doesn’t pretend to have any solutions to the entrenched (because entirely visual) nature of racial separation, but the way she keeps going, herself, as a photographer, throughout the story underscores the message that doing art is essential to survival.
—Fanny Howe, author of The Wedding Dress: Meditations on Word and Life
There is a clear-eyed distillation of outrage in this collection, this nonfiction Künstlerroman, a setting forth of terms in an oracular voice, both disembodied and incarnate. To say that these essays are about ethnicity, or culture, or self, or the collision thereof, is to suggest that quilts are about scraps of cloth that might otherwise be discarded, that photographs are about the process of light reflecting off of objects and onto the medium of film.
—PR Griffis, Diagram
Mishearing, misunderstanding, selfishness, illness, and stress; economic segregation, environmental injustice, systematic incarceration; the “something fragile” that composes walls, floor, the ceiling that falls in chunks while the author and her father await her mother’s arrival; the flickerings of gentleness and love. I want to press my eye, my ear, to the pieces that don’t unify or homogenize but do call to each other, to the leak where things can leave or enter.
—Kate Schapira, Pank
Her mother is white; her father is black; her search is for light and illumination. “Between blackness and whiteness” Sloan asserts, “brightness holds clues about what connects one side to the other.” While threads of her racial identity permeate the fabric of Sloan’s first book, her subject is the many selves that constitute the whole self. In Sloan’s case, this grows out of diverse places and out of her boundless passion for books, music, and movies.
As I sit writing as a still new 75 year old, I’m so glad I’ve lived, in spite of how scary our world is at times, to see shreds of promise rise before my eyes, hopeful happenings like Arab Spring, gays marrying, and Occupy. I love anything that keeps hope alive. That being said, I just read the most inspirational memoir, The Fluency of Light, by Aisha Sabatini Sloan.
—Ernie McCray, San Diego Free Press