All St. Paul Reads: A Map is Only One Story

News | December 30, 2020

A Map Is Only One Story: Twenty Writers on Immigration, Family, and the Meaning of Home is the 2021 All St. Paul Reads book.

All St. Paul Reads is encouragement for all to read and talk about a single book title in the same year. In 2021, this virtual event will take place on Thursday, February 11, 7-8 p.m., with speakers and an encouragement to patronize specific Quad City restaurants for takeout dinner that evening. Sign up at

A Map Is Only One Story is available for purchase for $12 in the St. Paul Book Corner. Pick up is available by emailing, or during Book Corner business hours, posted on the St. Paul website. Contact: Karen Holden, Book Corner manager, 563-326-3547 ext. 242,

More about the book:

From rediscovering an ancestral village in China to experiencing the realities of American life as a Nigerian, the search for belonging crosses borders and generations. Selected from the archives of Catapult magazine, the essays in A Map Is Only One Story highlight the human side of immigration, as 20 writers share provocative personal stories of existing between languages and cultures.

Victoria Blanco relates how those with family in both El Paso and Ciudad Juárez experience life on the border. Nina Li Coomes recalls the heroines of Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki and what they taught her about her bicultural identity. Nur Nasreen Ibrahim details her grandfather’s crossing of the India-Pakistan border sixty years after Partition. Krystal A. Sital writes of how undocumented status in the United States can impact love and relationships. Porochista Khakpour describes the challenges in writing (and rewriting) Iranian America.

Migration is an experience that crosses borders and generations, and the writers in A Map is Only One Story share an array of perspectives as immigrants, children of immigrants and refugees, people directly affected by immigration policy and how the country treats those who come here. While their stories are different, a truth they share is that immigration is not, ultimately, the story of laws or borders, but of people – of individuals, families, and communities.

As one of the contributors, Jamila Osman, winner of the 2019 Brunel International African Poetry Prize, writes in her essay: “A map is only one story. It is not the most important story. The most important story is the one people tell about themselves.”

Through the power of personal narratives, as told by both emerging and established writers, A Map Is Only One Story offers a new definition of home in the twenty-first century. Since its launch five years ago, Catapult magazine has published a wide array of personal narratives from writers all over the world, in hopes of realizing a central tenet of the magazine’s mission and Catapult’s overall company vision: through writing that seeks to bridge rather than widen the rifts between people, literature can provide a pathway to greater empathy and understanding.

“While this is the first anthology of writing from Catapult magazine, it will not be our last,” editors Nicole Chung and Mensah Demary wrote in the book’s introduction. “Our hope is that this on-going series will introduce many readers to exciting and essential voices – urgent, necessary writing that will help us all better understand ourselves, our communities, and the world we live in.”

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