Tufts Lecturer Explores Body and Identity in Award-Winning Memoir

In "The Body Papers," Grace Talusan tackles the trauma of violence, illness and the immigrant experience

Tufts lecturer Grace Talusan

Tufts lecturer Grace Talusan, J94, has won the 2017 Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing for Nonfiction for The Body Papers, a memoir that chronicles Talusan’s life as a Filipina immigrant and survivor of trauma and illness. The $10,000 prize is awarded each year to a first-time, first-generation author for extraordinary writing that addresses identity in a global age. As part of the prize, Restless Books will publish Talusan’s book in fall 2018.

In a statement on the Restless Books blog, the prize judges praised Talusan’s “literary subtlety,” “deep reservoir of compassion,” and “delicacy and economy.” “The Body Papers may be Grace Talusan’s debut, but it is the considered, artful work of one who has been processing these experiences with the diligence and courage of a true writer,” the judges wrote. “In its message of resilience—and the salvation to be found in books—Talusan’s memoir will serve as an inspiration to thousands of young immigrants who feel the weight of secrecy and silence pressed upon them.”

Talusan said she’s overwhelmed with joy at accomplishing a lifelong dream—publishing a book—and she considers it a great honor to be chosen. She said she’s grateful to Tufts, where she first started to seriously write as an undergraduate, and where she now teaches writing in the English department, the department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, and The John M. Tisch College of Civic Life. She has also written for Tufts Magazine, including this story about returning to the country of her birth.

“It’s been a long road to publishing my first book and many times I felt invisible, that my writing didn’t fit in,” Talusan said. “I am grateful that Restless Books, a nonprofit, independent publisher, is intentional in finding and publishing books by writers like me.”

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