THE SOULS OF OTHERS by Shann Ray
The Souls of Others is a powerful essay collection by American Book Award winner Shann Ray. Ray depicts the American west as both magnificent and destitute. The mountains are alive. The people are gritty and resilient. Nature offers its bounty but never gives it with ease. Ray, having spent part of his childhood on the Northern Cheyenne reservation, expertly paints a place of family, sorrow, and a connection to Mother Nature that so many Americans have lost.
Formats: Paperback and Hardback
Publication Date: January 31, 2022
Praise for Shann Ray
This is a multi-genre memoir, combining genres of essays, interviews, academic research, memoir, and poetry. The book opens with a paean to basketball, and I love the joy and grace of how he describes the sport -- makes me ache with nostalgia for the squeak of sneakers on the hardwood.
But there are so many deaths among his friends on the Rez, and he doesn't shy away from describing how they're stabbed, drown, shot, and wrecked. He's haunted by the private past with the death of his friends, and the public past with genocide against the Cheyenne, and he also brings up his Czech heritage to contrast the American genocide with European genocide.
Ray's broken and remade relationship with his father made me weep, and I love the relationship he depicts with his wife -- listening to her tender, wise counsel. And the book really focuses on stories of forgiveness -- forgiveness for a mother, for fathers, for murderers.
In spite of all this, I think the book is shot through with hope. With optimism. For what is possible in our relationships and what might be possible in our collective future. If you'd like to meditate on the deepest part of our human soul, buy this book and dwell on it.
--John Matthew Fox of BookFox