“New World Coming” is co-edited by Salt Lake Tribune reporter Alastair Lee Bitsóí


“New World Coming” is co-edited by Salt Lake Tribune reporter Alastair Lee Bitsóí

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Alastair Lee Bitsóí

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In the reception of “New World Ahead: Frontline Voices on Pandemics, Uprisings and the Climate CrisisWrite co-editors Brooke Larsen and Alastair Lee Bitsóí that all of the book’s contributors have connections to the Southwest.

It was intentional: their publisher, Torrey House Press, is based in Intermountain West (Salt Lake City, to be precise), and they wanted to create a platform for people in their area.

Second, “our relationship is rooted in the southwest,” they write. “Rather than going to communities where we have no connection, we have compiled this book based on the relationships of trust and reciprocity that we have built over the years. … It is a book of relationships because we will need our relationships to build a new world.

The strength of this recently released anthology is how it unites diverse writers – black, Native American, disabled, LGBTQ + – as they explore the impacts of COVID-19, race, and climate on their communities.

Bitsóí, who is a Navajo Nation Salt Lake Tribune and Diné reporter, recently spoke with the Tribune about the importance of the book’s many voices and messages.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

(Provided by Torrey House Press) “New World Coming: Frontline Voices on Pandemics, Uprisings, and Climate Crisis” features a variety of voices from Black, Native American, disabled and LGBTQ + communities.

What does “New World Coming” say to readers about the pandemic, race and climate?

The purpose of the anthology is to shed light on some of these injustices that have always existed in our communities. When people think of the pandemic, they often think only of the health system. But that’s only the top layer of what’s going on. The book uses the pandemic as its theme, along with Black Lives Matter, along with the uprisings and the climate crisis, as layers to talk about. If we do nothing now, it could be the end of our existence. So, through this anthology, these writers bring to light the complexities of what it is to be human right now.

(She) offers solutions for moving forward. We must remember that we are human. In my culture, the Diné culture, as humans, we are known as people with five fingers. We are the people of the face of the holy land. I have the impression that we have forgotten the tenderness and that we are treating each other well. This anthology gives people hope.

You have also contributed to the anthologies “Red Rock Stories: Three Generations of Writers Speak on Behalf of Utah’s Public Lands” and “Edge of Morning: Native Voices Speak for the Bears Ears”. How do these books compare to “New World Coming”?

I have the impression that these anthologies led to this. These two Bears Ears anthologies deal with what the land is important to the Indigenous experience. “New World Coming” has the same kind of theme. But Bears Ears is specific to this region, and “New World Coming” includes not only Bears Ears, but various living movements.

Did you encounter any challenges while working on this project?

Yes! I broke up with an old job, then I thought “What are you doing, Alastair?” Are you leaving Utah? Fortunately, I found myself in a situation where I had the opportunity to heal from this experience, but also to look to the future. It brought me back to what I was passionate about, which was writing, reporting and storytelling. I used this time of pandemic with Brooke Larsen to shape this whole experience and create this book with the contributors. I feel like I ran away from writing and it reminded me. I had to submit to it. And that’s how it happened.

How do you hope people feel when they read “A New World to Come”?

It offers this hope of answering questions such as: “How to restructure our society? How to restructure it so that everyone counts? I love this anthology because it has a lot of queer voices, gender non-conforming voices, powerful female voices, people from all walks of life. So that restores that balance.

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