Essays on Heritage and Healing
by Jen Soriano
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Pub Date 22 Aug 2023 | Archive Date 17 Oct 2023
Activist Jen Soriano brings to light the lingering impacts of transgenerational trauma and uses science, history, and family stories to flow toward transformation in this powerful collection that brings together the lyric storytelling, cultural exploration, and thoughtful analysis of The Argonauts, The Woman Warrior, What the Bones Know, and Minor Feelings.
The power of quiet can haunt us over generations, crystallizing in pain that Jen Soriano views as a form of embodied history. In this searing memoir in essays, Soriano, the daughter of a neurosurgeon, journeys to understand the origins of her chronic pain and mental health struggles. By the end, she finds both the source and the delta of what bodies impacted by trauma might need to thrive. In fourteen essays connected by theme and experience, Soriano traverses centuries and continents, weaving together memory and history, sociology and personal stories, neuroscience and public health, into a vivid tapestry of what it takes to transform trauma not just body by body, but through the body politic and ecosystems at large.
Beginning with a shocking timeline juxtaposing Soriano’s medical history with the history of hysteria and witch hunts, Nervous navigates the human body—centering neurodiverse, disabled, and genderqueer bodies of color—within larger systems that have harmed and silenced Filipinos for generations. Soriano’s wide-ranging essays contemplate the Spanish-American War that ushered in United States colonization in the Philippines; the healing power of an inherited legacy of music; a chosen family of activists from the Bay Area to the Philippines; and how the fluidity of our nervous systems can teach us how to shape a trauma-wise future.
With Nervous, Soriano boldly invites us along on a watershed journey toward healing, understanding, and communion.