bipoc books

discover books by bipoc authors

Nervous: Essays on Heritage and Healing

Nervous: Essays on Heritage and Healing

Activist Jen Soriano brings to light the lingering impacts of transgenerational trauma and uses science, history, and family stories to flow toward transformation in this powerful collection that brings together the lyric storytelling, cultural exploration, and thoughtful analysis of The Argonauts, The Woman Warrior, What My Bones Know, and Minor Feelings.

The power of quiet can haunt us over generations, crystallizing in pain that Jen Soriano views as a form of embodied history. In this searing memoir in essays, Soriano, the daughter of a neurosurgeon, journeys to understand the origins of her chronic pain and mental health struggles. By the end, she finds both the source and the delta of what bodies impacted by trauma might need to thrive. In fourteen essays connected by theme and experience, Soriano traverses centuries and continents, weaving together memory and history, sociology and personal stories, neuroscience and public health, into a vivid tapestry of what it takes to transform trauma not just body by body, but through the body politic and ecosystems at large.

Beginning with a shocking timeline juxtaposing Soriano’s medical history with the history of hysteria and witch hunts, Nervous navigates the human body—centering neurodiverse, disabled, and genderqueer bodies of color—within larger systems that have harmed and silenced Filipinos for generations. Soriano’s wide-ranging essays contemplate the Spanish-American War that ushered in United States colonization in the Philippines; the healing power of an inherited legacy of music; a chosen family of activists from the Bay Area to the Philippines; and how the fluidity of our nervous systems can teach us how to shape a trauma-wise future.

With Nervous, Soriano boldly invites us along on a watershed journey toward healing, understanding, and communion. 

Book Details

Publisher: Amistad
Publish Date: August 22, 2023
ISBN: 9780063230132
Language: English

About the Author

Jen Soriano (she/they) is a writer, performer, social movement strategist, and author of the chapbook “Making the Tongue Dry.” She writes from the body about silenced and sidelined stories that long for the space to shine. Jen’s essays have received the Penelope Niven Prize and the Fugue Prose Prize, and she’s been awarded fellowships from Vermont Studio Center, Hugo House, and the Jack Jones Literary Arts Retreat. Jen was also a finalist in the 2019 Ploughshares emerging writers contest. Jen currently serves as the writer-in-residence for Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. Originally from a landlocked area of southwest Chicago, she now lives with her husband, son, and seven-month-old water dog on Duwamish territory, Seattle, near the Salish Sea. 

Browse More Books