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The once-thriving city of Lewiston had fallen on hard times—mills closed, jobs gone. It was mostly white, and the young were leaving. Then thousands of African Muslim immigrants came to town. Here is a moving chronicle of struggle, transformation, and who belongs in America.
Over the past 15 years, Lewiston, Maine has improbably become one of the most Muslim towns in America. About 6,000 of the city’s 36,000 inhabitants are African refugees and asylum seekers, many of them Somali.
Cynthia Anderson tells the story of this fractious yet resilient mill town near where she grew up, offering the unfolding drama of a community’s reinvention—and humanizing some of the defining political issues in America today.
In Lewiston, progress is real but precarious. Anderson takes the reader deep into the lives of both immigrants and lifelong Mainers: a single Muslim mom; an anti-Islamist activist; a Congolese asylum seeker; a Somali community leader. Their stories unfold on these pages as anti-immigrant sentiment rises across the U.S. and national realities collide with those in Lewiston.
Described in a Kirkus starred review as “a triumphant, probing debut with literary and mass market appeal,” RIVER TALK introduces an unforgettable array of characters. A woman reconsiders her decision to enter a polygamous marriage; an Iraq War veteran struggles to reclaim compromised relationships; a taxidermist plies his trade to woo the woman he loves; a Somali refugee takes a job at the local mill to support her family. In surefooted and emotionally deft prose, Anderson explores loss and desire, regret and hope. Everywhere we are reminded of all that a single life contains.