From the bustling streets of Seoul to a quiet chapel in rural America, Anywhere Else but Here explores belonging and dislocation through the eyes of four immigrant women. A photographer in Seoul struggles with the distance that has grown among her family since she moved abroad. Grappling with loneliness, a diplomat's wife makes an unexpected connection at a Korean bathhouse. A queer Korean American in New York City tries to balance making a life with her new partner and hiding her identity from her family. And the daughter of a Korean War refugee tries to find her place among languages, homes, and lovers. In these four stories, connection and isolation thread these characters together, threaten to pull them apart, and ultimately, leave them to make their own definitions of kinship, inclusion, and home.
"Alexis Stratton's characters make and unmake themselves through language, undergoing geographic and cultural relocations that circle them back to the selves they would rather avoid. These are absorbing stories, beautifully made and studded with insights into human motivation."
-Elise Blackwell, author of Hunger and The Lower Quarter
"Anywhere Else but Here is a skillful and intimate look into the hazy boundaries between person and place, self and other."
-Tania De Rozario, author of And The Walls Come Crumbling Down
"These are immersively real stories. Stratton serves us the banality of violence with extreme delicacy. An impressive debut."
-Chavisa Woods, author of Things To Do When You're Goth in the Country and The Albino Album
"In Alexis Stratton's new collection, people cross oceans, borders, and languages, ever unsure who they are and where they belong. These stories take us to Korea, Chile, Brazil, the U.S., to places where boundaries both geographical and emotional are sometimes blurry, sometimes all too clear. These are powerful stories of women-mostly migrants and exiles-unsatisfied with where they are but unsure where else they might go. And these are stories in which small gestures reveal huge struggles, silences and mistranslations that fail to reveal untold histories and inexplicable longings. A woman watches, revulsed, as her lover chews the still-curling tentacle of an octopus. Another recognizes in a vacation caricature her husband purchased on whim the deep unhappiness of her marriage. A social services translator says aloud things that others can't say, stories of inappropriate touches and unacceptable desires. A first-generation Asian American realizes that her family has begun to imagine her marrying an American man, but they cannot imagine her with an American woman. The question that drives this book isn't really where or what home is, but more precisely where do I belong? And too often, as the title story suggests, that is anywhere but here."
-Ed Madden, author of Ark