Isako Isako

Isako Isako


Mia Ayumi Malhotra

The 2018 Nautilus Gold Award Winner
One of Electric Lit’s 10 Books of Poetry that Highlight the Diversity of Asian America
One of Entropy Magazine’s 2018 Best Poetry Books
Top Fall Poetry Collection from Library Journal

“By turns delicate and anguished, the poems [in Isako Isako] ask how one can recover—and recover from—experiences that are not one’s own.”
Publishers Weekly

September 2018

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Available in both print and digital formats.

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Mia Ayumi Malhotra is the author of Isako Isako, winner of the 2017 Alice James Award. She received her MFA from the University of Washington and is a Kundiman and VONA/Voices Fellow. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Anthology, and her poems have appeared in Poetry Northwest, The Yale Review, Indiana Review, and elsewhere. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family. Read more at: 

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Additional Praise:

"If today’s forces of fascism and systemic racism are attempting to erase the lived reality of all of us who are not white, straight or male, Malhotra, in her debut collection, has helped to arm us with some defense."
Hyphen Magazine

“[A] heartrending poetry debut…”

“Malhotra sets forth a yearning that knows no bounds—after all, as the poems remind us, survival is nothing without remembrance.”
Lantern Review

Isako Isako is a carefully controlled whirlwind of ideas and impressions that reminds us that the scars laid down today will still be visible generations from now.”
Japan Times

Isako Isako is a powerful testament to poetry’s capacity for alchemizing history, memoir, and the lyric: the poems here intimately address the landscapes of war and the reverberations of violence through bodies and bloodlines. Malhotra’s visionary debut collection spans generations, countries, and loves, weaving the story of a mother survivor with reflections on the limits and reaches of memory. Sandalwood cities, desert gardens, dragon skin, and peach pits emerge from a shadowed past, details that ‘elude / even as they’re remembered.'”
Brynn Saito

“The personal pronoun ‘I’ has brinks on all sides, over which you can fall and become anyone and no one. Isako Isako deeply explores these soaring and dangerous precipices of identity through the magnetic voice of a Japanese-American internment camp survivor who is both an individual and collective, a citizen and a prisoner, broken and healing. Mia Ayumi Malhotra has written a brilliant and searing debut.”
Maria Hummel

“Mia Malhotra labors in the mythic burdens and beauties of an ancestral story, delivering a vision that proliferates beyond the usual borders between generations, nations, or collective eras of psychic trauma. In these poems, haunted equally by historical event and the timelessness of human suffering, we find a stunning imagination at work on the sacred task of bodying forth, through an uncommon compassion, the stories that history might otherwise eclipse. The multiplicities here are deeply felt through the invention of the transgenerational consciousness of Isako–she who suffers recurringly all the bitter privations of war, starvation, exile. In lyrics that leap, stutter and start again, the reader feels Isako’s voice both across and poignantly through the confines of literal time and place. Malhotra’s poetry demonstrates what is still best in us, the counterpart to cruelty coming back in the surviving descendant’s intimacies and empathies, her innovations in language and, ultimately, love.”
Pimone Triplett

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More by Mia Ayumi Malhotra:

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