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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

The Fruit of All My Grief

Lives in the Shadows of the American Dream

by J. Malcolm Garcia

Book cover for The Fruit of All My Grief
Book cover for The Fruit of All My GriefBook cover for The Fruit of All My Grief

Like the Russian author Svetlana Alexievich, award-winning journalist J. Malcolm Garcia lets the people he writes about speak for themselves. The soaring narratives told in The Fruit of All My Grief let us feel the fears, hopes, and outrage of those quietly fighting for their lives while living in the shadows of the American Dream.

They go by a lot of different names—civilians, unintended victims, innocent bystanders—but no matter what they are called, their stories are most frequently left untold. From the families scraping by in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, to the prisoner sentenced to life for transporting drugs to save his son’s life, to the Iraqi interpreter who was promised American asylum, only to arrive and be forced to live in poverty, the people whose stories are told in this book all lead rich and multifaceted lives of struggle, the telling of which honors them—and us. The Fruit of All My Grief returns us to the universal themes of endurance, struggle, survival, and the injustices of mammoth institutions and public indifference. J. Malcolm Garcia’s soaring narratives amount to an updated portrait of lives lived in the shadows of the American dream—not in the Great Depression years or in the McCarthy era but very much now in the closing year of the second decade of the twenty-first century.

Book cover for The Fruit of All My Grief
Book cover for The Fruit of All My GriefBook cover for The Fruit of All My Grief

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“Studs Terkel Prize–winning journalist Garcia (The Khaarijee) tells 11 stories about people harmed by corporations, judges, and governments, with deep empathy and incredible attention ... Garcia respectfully presents the realities his subjects are facing from their own perspectives, and he has a gift for polishing the story of a life until its heart shines through. This humane, urgent work will move readers.”

“Garcia demonstrates his strong reporting skills and empathetic writing in this collection ... Compassionate, memorable tales from a journalist who understands the significance of revealing the inner lives of marginalized individuals.”

“I’ve used essays from The Fruit of All My Grief as required reading in my narrative long-form writing class. I urge students to do what J. Malcolm Garcia does here so brilliantly: he listens to the voices of real people and then he channels their collective hopes and desires, their struggle against what John Steinbeck called the 'marching phalanx' arrayed against them. Others write about Wall Street. Then there’s Malcolm’s Street—the back alleys and shuttered storefronts of the inner city, the suburbs with their hidden desperation, the forgotten rural towns. In other words, the 99 percent of America.”

“[T]here’s a writer named J. Malcolm Garcia who continually astounds me with his energy and empathy. He writes powerful and lyrical nonfiction from Afghanistan, from Buenos Aires, from Mississippi, all of it urgent and provocative. I’ve been following him wherever he goes.”

“A deftly crafted, inherently engaging, and often riveting read, The Fruit of All My Grief: Lives in the Shadows of the American Dream is an extraordinary study that is unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library contemporary social Issues collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.”

J. Malcolm Garcia

J. MALCOLM GARCIA worked with homeless people in San Francisco for fourteen years before he made the jump into journalism in 1997. The tragedy of September 11th, 2001, gave him the opportunity to work in Afghanistan. Since then he has written on Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Chad, Haiti, Honduras, Egypt and Argentina among other countries. Garcia is the author of The Khaarijee: A Chronicle of Friendship and War in Kabul (Beacon 2009); What Wars Leave Behind: The Faceless and Forgotten (University of Missouri Press 2014); Without A Country: The Untold Story of America's Deported Veterans (Skyhorse Press 2017); and Riding through Katrina with the Red Baron's Ghost: A Memoir of Friendship, Family and a Life Writing Stories (Skyhorse Press 2018), as well as three books from Seven Stories Press, The Fruit of All My Grief: Lives in the Shadows of the American Dream (2018) and Most Dangerous, Most Unmerciful: Stories from Afghanistan (2022), and his debut novel, Out of the Rain (2024). Garcia is a recipient of the Studs Terkel Prize for writing about the working classes and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for excellence in journalism. His work has been anthologized in Best American Travel Writing, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and Best American Essays. He lives in San Diego.