High Desert is a psychedelic journal of end-times and an ode to the American Southwest. Exploring such key events as the First Red Scare, the Tulsa Race Massacre and the West Coast’s wildfire epidemic, 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.
"High Desert places Naffis-Sahely among our most indispensable poets, those who, throughout history, testify to the truths of poetry against the lies of violent, destructive, corrupt, oligarchic power." ― Lawrence Joseph
"A poetry of things and people, as solid and realised and unforgettable as any of Kris Kristofferson’s band of drifters, juiceheads and lost souls."― John Clegg
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."
"Naffis-Sahely's poems usher the reader in to a world of reversals and risk... His narratives hold memory to account." ― David Harsent
"I much admired André Naffis-Sahely’s sharp meditations on our vast but remarkably homogeneous global landscape." ― Pankaj Mishra
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