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

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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 soldier who served his country only to be deported, 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.

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“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“[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.”

J. Malcolm 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). 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 WritingBest American Nonrequired Reading, and Best American Essays. Some of the stories in The Fruit of All My Grief were originally published in n+1Guernica, and Ascent, among others.