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New Book to Highlight Maine’s Immigrant Community

Islandport Press Plans December 2021 release

November 13, 2020—Islandport Press is pleased to announce that it is working with authors Reza Jalali and Morgan Rielly to publish a book exploring the remarkable, inspiring, but often untold personal stories of immigrants to Maine who have arrived during the last four decades. The as-yet-untitled book, which will include professional black and white photography, is slated for publication in December of 2021. ​ The more than twenty people profiled in the book represent a variety of religious, ethnic, and economic backgrounds and emigrated from countries on five continents, including Rwanda, Russia, Iraq, Cambodia, Azerbaijan, and Ecuador. All recount important stories of success and struggle as they strive to create new lives in a small northern state vastly different from the homelands they left behind. Some of the people profiled sought to escape war, famine, genocide, and persecution, while others chose to uproot themselves and risk everything to seek a new life for more personal reasons.

“By telling these important stories about Maine’s immigrants, we hope to put a human face on some of the often invisible people and communities that call Maine home,” Jalali said. ​ Rielly said, “My hope is that these profiles provide a better understanding and appreciation for what these individuals have overcome, what they have accomplished and what they hope to do here in Maine.” ​ Morgan Rielly is the incoming state representative for Westbrook and the author of Neighborhood Heroes: Life Lessons from Maine’s Greatest Generation, which profiles Maine World War II veterans. He is a 2018 graduate from Bowdoin College where he double-majored in Religion and Government & Legal Studies. At Bowdoin, he received a fellowship to work in Jordan at the Collateral Repair Project, helping Syrian and Iraqi refugees. ​ Reza Jalali is a writer, educator, and human rights activist, who serves on Amnesty International USA’s Board of Directors. He has taught at the University of Southern Maine and Bangor Theological Seminary, and advised Muslim students at Bowdoin and Bates College. Jalali was a contributing writer to Child Labor: A Global View. He also wrote Moon Watchers, a children’s book, and Homesick Mosque and Other Stories, a collection of short stories.

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