High Desert is a psychedelic journal of end-times and an ode to the US Southwest. Naffis-Sahely’s reflections on class, race, and nationalism chart the region’s hidden histories from the Spanish Colonial Era to the recent pandemic. The poems in High Desert also revel in their rootlessness, as the author shifts his gaze outside of the US, traveling from Venice and Florence to Chittagong and St Petersburg, tackling our turbulent times and the depths of its problems in searing, extraordinary poems of witness and vision.
"This is fierce writing too: litanies of the lost, dispatches from desperate outposts and borders. 'True migrants ought to be buried upright / like the Kurdish warriors of old', we read in Folie à Trois: in an inert and supine world, these are impeccably upright poems."
― David Wheatley, The Guardian
"The second collection from Naffis-Sahely celebrates the desert landscapes of the Southwest while highlighting devastating and complex historical moments, among them the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. Naffis-Sahely offers a fresh approach to weaving reportage and confession in this absorbing travelogue"
― Publishers Weekly
"Naffis-Sahely's compelling and deeply researched second collection begins in California but blossoms into a globally engaged meditation on history, migration, inclusion and justice. Drawing on found text from diaries to academic manuscripts and traversing across North America, Europe and Asia, High Desert is at once humble and unafraid."
― Maggie Wong, Poetry Book Society Bulletin
Flitting from the mud-soaked floors of Venice to the glittering, towering constructions of the Abu Dhabi of his childhood and early adulthood, from the 'disposable cities' composed of shanty towns and rough encampments which spring up wherever new resources are discovered to present-day London and North America, André Naffis-Sahely's bracingly plain-spoken first collection gathers portraits of promised lands and those who go in search of them: travellers, labourers, dreamers; the hopeful and the dispossessed. This is poetry as reportage, as much an act of memory as of sinuous, clear-eyed vision. As this arresting new poet has remarked elsewhere: "I don't like poems that invent memories; I have enough of my own."
"I much admired André Naffis-Sahely’s sharp meditations on our vast but remarkably homogeneous global landscape."
― Pankaj Mishra, The Guardian
"Naffis-Sahely's poems usher the reader in to a world of reversals and risk... His narratives hold memory to account."
― David Harsent
Exile lies at the root of our earliest stories. Charting varied experiences of people forced to leave their homes from the ancient world to the present day, The Heart of a Stranger is an anthology of poetry, fiction and non-fiction that journeys through six continents, with over a hundred contributors drawn from twenty-four languages. Highlights include the wisdom of the 5th century Desert Fathers and Mothers, The Flight of the Irish Earls, Madame de Staël’s thoughts on Napoleon’s tyranny, Emma Goldman’s travails in the wake of the First Red Scare, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's tales of European colonial settlers in Kenya and the work of the contemporary Eritrean poet Ribka Sibhatu.
"A wonderful, provocative and resonant anthology. This is a necessary book. I loved it"
― Edmund de Waal
"One way of thinking of André Naffis-Sahely's "anthology of exile literature" is as a vessel pieced together from the stories of the banished. [...] What's clear from the fragments in this anthology, so lovingly and purposefully arranged by Naffis-Sahely, is that the pity we feel when Adam and Eve are kicked out of Eden isn't for them - it's for us all."
― William Atkins, Times Literary Supplement