Tuesday, June 9, 2015
When Allan Johnson asked his dying father where he wanted his ashes to be placed, his father replied—without hesitation—that it made no difference to him at all. In his poignant, powerful memoir, Not from Here, Johnson embarks on an extraordinary two-thousand-mile journey across the Upper Midwest and Great Plains to find the place where his father’s ashes belong.
As a white man of Norwegian and English lineage, Johnson explores both America and the question of belonging to a place whose history holds the continuing legacy of the displacement, dispossession, and genocide of Native Peoples. More than a personal narrative, Not from Here illuminates not only the national silence around unresolved questions of accountability, race, and identity politics but also the dilemma of how to take responsibility for a past we did not create.
Johnson’s story—of the past living in the present; of redemption, fate, family, tribe, and nation; of love and grief—raises profound questions about belonging, identity, and place.
"What it means to be white, what it means to be American, and what it means to be from a place and to belong to it are questions that Johnson raises throughout the book. He is painfully aware that as a descendant of those who took the land from others, dispossessing and displacing them, he is today the beneficiary of acts he did not perform. . . . [T]hose expecting a son's gentle memoir will be in for a surprise." —Kirkus Reviews