Navigating the Divide: Poetry & Prose
“Reading Linda’s work is like being mesmerized by a snake before it swallows you whole. The words shimmer, creating a dreamscape where the story unfolds and draws you in while strange, sometimes bizarre, encounters play out in minutely described detail. You ‘emerge’ from her stories rather than ‘finish’ them. The poems are spare, elegant and evocative, stirring deep emotions even while not ostensibly emotional. This is a beautiful book by a writer who has honed her writing skills and knows precisely how to wield them.”
—Maureen Wheeler, Co-Founder of Lonely Planet Publications
“I have loved everything I’ve ever read by Linda Watanabe McFerrin. Her prose and poetry are filled with amazing women, charm, wisdom and light. She is both soulful and precise, eloquent and full of life.”
—Anne Lamott, Author of Bird by Bird
Poetry like burnished steel and prose that reads like poetry. The most captivating and rewarding book I’ve read this year.
—Tim Cahill, Author of Jaguars Ripped My Flesh, A Wolverine Is Eating My Leg, and Pass the Butterworms
“Linda Watanabe McFerrin is a sorceress, a seer, a seductress who pulls you close until you too are navigating the divide between worlds seen, felt, and conjured. Reading her work is an immersion, an experience that can leave you both unbalanced and nurtured, but certainly moved.”
—Larry Habegger, Executive Editor, Travelers’ Tales Books
“Navigating the Divide by Linda Watanabe McFerrin reminds me of the prodigious efforts of the legendary Polynesian long canoe wayfinders, who navigated the vast ocean using only the stars, the sun and moon, and the pattern of the waves. Likewise, the poems and prose pieces here range across the wide globe, from San Francisco and Oakland, to Shanghai and Tokyo, as well as the often enormous distance between love and loneliness, strangers and friends, sadness and happiness. The insights here into the human condition are often as wrenching as a sea storm, but also as euphoric as the moment when the fog lifts and your ship slips into a safe harbor.”
— Phil Cousineau, author of The Book of Roads and The Art of Pilgrimage
“Navigating the Divide is a fascinating expression of inner and outer travels through Linda Watanabe McFerrin’s poetic and prose writing, There is an “Asian something,” in the in-between that is subtle. It can be easily read randomly as an anthology, perhaps allowing synchronicity to choose the selection and speak to you.”
Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD, author-activist- Jungian analyst
Goddesses in Everywoman, Tao of Psychology, jeanbolen.com
“A stunning collection, not only for the range of its preoccupations but for the beauty that courses through these writings. Linda Watanabe McFerrin invites us to ponder, to pay attention, and, above all, to savor life.”
—Jasmin Darznik, Author of Song of a Captive Bird
“What can I say about the teacher I credit for teaching me how to write and, more importantly, how to believe in myself as a writer? And not just by guidance as rigorous as it was infinitely patient and tender, but also by the example of her own wonderful work. I began again after a 30-year hiatus, with the fear and hope that writing would kill me or save me, and like the narrator in Dead Love, “was pronounced dead. And then I was born again.” Linda’s poems, essays, and short and long fiction have inspired me since 2007, and I’m thrilled to see the artfully curated selections in this volume; there’s no genre, it seems, that this writer hasn’t mastered and made her own with her signature style. Grace. Understatement. Authenticity. Immense power. Comedy and tragedy. Gorgeously transparent writing. You’ll find all this and more in pages that seem almost to turn themselves.”
—Rebecca Foust, Marin Poet Laureate emerita and author of Paradise Drive, winner of the Press 53 Award for Poetry.
“This surprising, sui generis author’s name—Linda Watanabe McFerrin—is itself an invitation to travel. Scents of the East, and of her native California, infuse her words. In prose and poetry, they swerve and mount magic mountains, then dive into dark abysses, into places where cultures mingle, mix and match, unexpectedly. I have long admired Linda’s professionalism as a journalist and teacher, and am now privileged to discover her most personal and creative side.”
—David Downie, author of The Gardener of Eden
—Maureen Wheeler, Founder, Lonely Planet Publications
Linda Watanabe McFerrin charms us with a winding tale of an evil enchantment. A wondrously wild story, told as if the deadpan voice of Dashiell Hammett had been mixed with the song of an artful siren.
—Susan Griffin, Author, A Chorus of Stones and The Book of Courtesans
With a poet’s sensibility and lapidary prose, Linda Watanabe McFerrin transcends the genre with this dark and sensual tale about a ghoul’s obsessive love for a beautiful young zombie. As its peripatetic story unwinds through gorgeously evoked locations from Tokyo to Haiti to Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, DEAD LOVE tempts us down into its particular underworld of supernatural corpse-eaters, Haitian bokors, and Japanese yakuza, and seduces us with its dazzling, at times hallucinatory visions and its mordant humor. Linda Watanabe McFerrin does for ghouls and zombies what Anne Rice did for vampires: made them intelligent, original, fresh and unforgettable.
—Christi Phillips, author of The Rossetti Letter and The Devlin Diary
“… this book blends dark humor, whimsy, and erudition about the supernatural. Those who dare to peel open the cover (imagine the creaking door of a crypt) will soon find themselves on a wild ride.”
—Paul McHugh, Author of Deadlines
Namako: Sea Cucumber
– Coffee House Press, Fall / Winter 1998-1999
Rare is the writer that I know who has created her own genre… Linda writes with such verisimilitude that you’ll never have to leave home again.
– Perry Garfinkel
“Quite astonishing — beautiful, touching and altogether original.”
– Jan Morris
Her imagination is beautiful … her delicate prose spare, controlled, accurate. She seems to reach a finger into the chest and touch the heart…. a very talented writer.
– Betsy Lerner, Doubleday
… an eye-opening new world of spirit ancestors, baffling customs and family secrets…
– Georgia Rowe, Contra Costa Times, September 13,1998
… intense clarity and elegance…
– The Bloomsbury Review, January/ February 1999
… the powerful mythological approach of a Maxine Hong Kingston … the earthy realism of a Dorothy Allison.
– Jim Gladstone, New York Times
Namako is a novel about a child’s virgin dance with the truth with lies and secrets. Each new violation of trust is like a footprint on the tundra, refining the way the child walks through life.
– Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times, October 11,1998
Haunting in its incidents and mood and beautiful, precise, almost crystalline, in style.
– Joseph Milicia, Multicultural Review, June 1999
This finely-crafted first novel by an accomplished young writer fairly radiates with light and life. And, as it grows into its final crescendo of insight and enlightenment, it also radiates with power.
… what young Ellen comes into is not merely adulthood, but a sense of oneness with her Japanese ancestry, the heart of life itself. What she experiences is an epiphany as complete and sure as that of Stephen Deadalus on the Irish beach or young Marcel entranced by the hawthorn in The Remembrance of Things Past.
… a joy, each word perfectly accurate, yet not at all abstract or remote, but relaxed and informal enough to deal with a house full of rough-and-tumble children.
– Tom Williams, Foreword, July 1998
Imagine being plunked into a world where cryptic language, looming spirits and kimonos replace average American mornings with Cornflakes and television. Imagine a place where so much is foreign and new that almost nothing seems normal and comfortable. Contemplate dipping tiny toes in two cultures simultaneously while still trying to think about first kisses, new hairstyles and the boy next door.
Welcome to the fictional world of 13-year-old Ellen, in which elements of America and Japan diverge into a plane where people, textures, food, objects and vegetation have minds of their own…
The strength of Namako Sea Cucumber lies in the descriptive language of author Linda Watanabe McFerrin. The senses come alive in her writing, often retaining a simplistic, childlike urgency.
– Kiersten Aschauer, Passionfruit, 1999
McFerrin’s prose is subtle and unpretentious, filled with beautifully imagined, just-ripe metaphors. She adeptly captures the heartbreakingly bitter-sweet sensitivity of a child, and paints a touching picture of human relationship.
– Lucius Lau, Inside Asian America, August/September 1998
Watanabe McFerrin injects Namako with a quirky sensibility that makes it seem freshly minted.
– San Francisco Metropolitan, September 21, 1998
McFerrin is a very impressive writer.
– Feminist Bookstore News, March – April 1999
… first-time novelist McFerrin refocuses on the intriguing relationship between Ellen and her grandmother, exposing the family’s secrets, lies, and kami — a Shinto term for family spirits — with elemental clarity.
– Megan Harlan, Entertainment Weekly, October 16, 1998
McFerrin’s writing is thoughtful and smooth as she captures ever-changing images of the world… successfully filtering those images through the eyes of her youthful characters.
– Library Journal
A novel that captures the universality of teenage angst.
–School Library Journal, January 1999
… this vivid, often humorous novel offers a winning young heroine, a complex family and memorable vignettes of a year spent betwixt and between.
– Publisher’s Weekly, June 8, 1998
McFerrin’s first novel paints a portrait of a truly multicultural family…
Appealing to both adult and teen readers, this will work well in most fiction collections.
– Shirley N. Quan, Library Journal, July 1998
The book captures both the confusion and wisdom that comes with growing up between two vastly different cultures.
– Rafu Shimpo, July 9, 1998
Honestly, while I was reading the book, I enjoyed it. It read quickly but it was still obvious the utter beauty of McFerrin’s prose. (What is it about Japanese writers and their ability with language? I’m so envious.)
The Hand of Buddha
– Publisher’s Weekly, September 25, 2000
McFerrin is adept at describing the concerns of women of various ethnic backgrounds, from different geographic regions of America and showing that despite race, country of origin, or physical location, some feelings and difficulties are universal. The stories, written with either puckish charm or an airy elegance, depending on the subject matter, are simply just well-told. Although many characters stumble upon bad situations or dark epiphanies, McFerrin’s wry and quiet sense of humor shines through and balances light and shadow.
– Elizabeth Millard, Foreword, September 2000
… concise, moving, even a bit chilling.
– Jim Jones, Pacific Reader, Spring 2001
… compassion, humor and a tenderness that sometimes erupts into joy. Magic shines through these stories.
– Mary Ann Grossman, Pioneer Press, November 26, 2000
McFerrin’s writing is strong and beautiful, almost like poetry, and the result is a provocative, sometimes humorous, and always colorful collection about women from a variety of generations, cultures, and backgrounds.
– Library Journal, October 1, 2000
McFerrin is a travel writer, and it shows: the richest passages deal with locations, places…This collection is both promising and accomplished in its vivid and unblinking look at women in the throes of life.
–Irin Carmon, Ms. Magazine
The Impossibility of Redemption is Something We Hadn't Figured On
– Kathleen Frasier
Linda Watanabe McFerrin’s poetry rises from the true encounter between language and vision, between wonder and exploration fused with the poet’s need to uncover the mysteries of the earth.
– Ray Gonzalez, Bloomsbury Review