From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. What do I really want to share with people? Not of my methods but of myself? asks Ali in his third collection, a captivating song of himself that passionately excavates the interdependence between geography and identity. Ali, who is also a novelist, presents a candid history of his wandering life—I have lived in six cities in five years— which has perpetually taken place by a river (the Hudson, Nile or Seine), always carrying with him a desire to uncover the hidden aspects of a city and, in turn, his multitudinous self (Under any city other cities exist. Under any body other bodies). Ali recounts his journey backward in lists of images and thoughts, and the book's 15 sections are each devoted to a particular city, maintaining a strong narrative arc throughout, crossing genre lines to read as a kind of literary-journalistic, autobiographical text. Ali knows the power of facts; he writes of his time in New York City: I was in exile, living out of a suitcase in a completely empty apartment in the deserted money district. This is a fascinating work, brimming with bold meditations on religion, sexuality and what it means to live the life of an artist. (Sept.)
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“Ali, journeying backwards through autobiography, writes an elegy for lost love and unrequited faith—another kind of exile.”—Lori Tsang, MultiCultural Review
“The pleasure of reading Bright Felon derives in large part from its invitation to us to give ourselves over to the music of language.”—Lee Sharkey, Beloit Poetry Journal
“The speed and energy of this language, and its confident movement, are undeniable and compelling….There is a lovely plenitude in the embroidery woven out of these journeys, inner and outer…the rich and nuanced tracings of contemporary experience Ali offers here are reward enough.”—Jeff Gundy, The Georgia Review
“Bright Felon is a troubling work of unrelieved sadness and relentless self-examination and yet, for all that, it is also a monument to a yearning for oblivion, a desire so unimpeachable at its center it reminds us that there are no happy endings—only intervals of relief.”—Tyrone Williams, The Volta