The Way Back : A Hybrid Chapbook by Edward Gunawan

by Oct 11, 2022Announcements

Edward Gunawan is the second winner of the Start A Riot! Chapbook Prize: In response to rapid gentrification and displacement of QTBIPOC+ literary artists in the San Francisco Bay Area, and in celebration of these communities’ revolutionary history, Foglifter Press, RADAR Productions, and Still Here San Francisco joined forces to create a chapbook prize for local emerging queer and trans Black writers, indigenous writers, and writers of color. Each year, one chapbook author is awarded publication, a $1,000 prize, and promotion, as well as a spot on RADAR’s literary tour, formerly Sister Spit. 

 

Edward Gunawan

Gunawan is an interdisciplinary writer and filmmaker whose work has been published in TriQuarterly, Aquifer, and Gay & Lesbian Review, and screened in Berlin, Locarno, and Cadence. A queer immigrant from Indonesia and of Chinese heritage, he now resides in Oakland on unceded Ohlone land. Gunawan grew up speaking three languages in a Chinese Buddhist household while attending Christian missionary schools in the most populous Muslim country in the world. Being gay only necessitated the departure from his family and community’s expectations to redefine for himself notions of love, belonging, and kinship. 

 

Blending intimately memoiristic prose with confrontational spoken-word poetics, Gunawan situates the intersectional specificity of an individual within a larger historical context to weave experiences of migration and mental wellness from a diasporic queer perspective. Foregrounding the power of solidarity and resilience in community, The Way Back converses with queer writers both living and dead, from Audre Lorde and James Baldwin to Yan Yi and Natalie Diaz. 

 

Confronting the legacy of inherited and inflicted traumas through direct and deceptively simple language, Gunawan’s hybrid collection navigates the choppy post-colonial cross-currents of identity, sexuality, and transnationality—as he invites all of us to chart our own true course back to self, to home, to love.

About the cover artist:

Elbert Lim is an Indonesian visual storyteller. In 2019, he founded Khayalan Arts — a creative studio that works on socially-impactful art projects, video games, installations, exhibitions, webcomics, workshops, and beach cleanup activities. For more, visit khayalanarts.com.

“This moving collection asks us to listen deeply to the rhythms of memory, desire, love, migration, and family. Throughout, the prose and lyric poems dance across multiple geographies of home to cinematically capture all that is ‘brutally broken and still beautiful.'” 

 

—Craig Santos Perez, author most recently of Habitat Threshold 


 

“Edward Gunawan’s powerful collection The Way Back heralds the arrival of a thrilling new voice in American poetry and transnational English literature. Gunawan’s poems speak on behalf of ‘love refugees,’ queer and Asian transplants seeking safety and acceptance, ‘panhandlers… Begging for the loose change of democracy.’ These evocative works express longing, desire, disappointment, joy, humor, and above all hope. An intelligent and empowering book well suited for this historical moment.” 

 

—May-lee Chai, author of Tomorrow in Shanghai & Other Stories and Useful Phrases for Immigrants, winner of the American Book Award


 

Edward Gunawan’s works weave in the complexities of being Chinese Indonesian and queer in diaspora, and they resonate strongly with me as a queer Chinese Indonesian activist. They are extremely rare contributions to narratives by and about Chinese Indonesians because of their queer sensibilities, and deserving to be read by those who wish to reflect on their multiple minority positions.”

 

—Dédé Oetomo, founder of Indonesian queer rights organization GAYa NUSANTARA


 

“In The Way Back, Edward Gunawan captures a kind of freedom that forgives, but does not forget, the pain that comes from personal, historical, and intergenerational traumas, and from unfulfilled longings. 

 

A queer Indonesian Chinese author who grew up in a period of anti-Chineseness in Indonesia and is now based in the United States, Gunawan weaves a rich tapestry of dreams, sensibilities, and stories in his vital first chapbook. He asks what it means to write one’s wishes, and even if, as the speaker says in “Insufferable Joy,” it may be “a lifetime’s accumulation of Waiting. And Yearning. And Longing. For something that would never come,” The Way Back transforms such deferrals into a space filled with doors stepping into past, present, and future possibilities. 

 

As the book title suggests, this is a collection of work that recuperates. There are, in fact, many ways back: these returns, written by Gunawan with tenderness, humor, and vulnerability, contain the weight of sadness, but ultimately, the fullness of love.” 

 

—Viola Lasmana, transpacific media scholar


 

Some Strange Music Draws Me In by Griffin Hansbury

Griffin Hansbury’s novel, SOME STRANGE MUSIC DRAWS ME IN, is worth your time. Set in the fictional, blue-collar town of Swaffham, MA, a trans man’s life is told in a dual timeline. In 1984, awkward and adrift 13-year-old Mel experiences a summer of self-awakening...

Both Sides of the Coin: A Conversation with Séamus Isaac Fey and Rob Macaisa Colgate

Rob Macaisa Colgate: Before we talk about your wonderful book— what’s up? Séamus Isaac Fey: I am between legs of my tour, which has been so exciting and so exhausting in a different way than I expected. It’s traveling plus being at 100 all the time. And I've been...

Interview of Patrick Nathan for The Future Was Color

Patrick Nathan’s second novel, The Future Was Color, makes facing and accepting our perpetual apocalypse feel sexy. When we first meet the protagonist, George Curtis, formerly György Kertész, a queer Hungarian Jew who fled Budapest during World War II, he has already...

Review of kiss+release by Anthony DiPietro

     “honey, if i’m real / i been fuckin’ around,” writes Anthony DiPietro in his forthcoming collection, kiss + release, from Unsolicited Press. DiPietro’s debut is muscular, dynamic, and unafraid, mercilessly splicing together the queer joys of so-called meaningless...

Review of Missing Possibilities by Jaime Balboa

The first of these excellent stories gives the collection its name: Missing Possibilities and concerns a runaway teenage boy. The friend looking for him tells the events in flashback and it transpires that he has been assaulted by his step-father for being or acting...

Submit to Foglifter

Foglifter is now closed for submission, but still open for cover artwork—and we're a paid market!

Support Foglifter

Help us continue providing a platform for intersectional queer and trans writing. Donate today!

Follow foglifter
on twitter

Twitter feed is not available at the moment.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This