Title: Depart, Depart!
Author: Sim Kern
Publisher: Stelliform Press
Length: 81 Pages
Category: Literary Fiction, Current Events, Paranormal/Fantasy
At a Glance: Depart, Depart! is apocalyptic and dystopian in a sense, but it is not without the hope of good overcoming the evils that men do, and I was left impressed by its overall delivery.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: When an unprecedented hurricane devastates the city of Houston, Noah Mishner finds shelter in the Dallas Mavericks’ basketball arena. Though he finds community among other queer refugees, Noah fears his trans and Jewish identities put him at risk with certain “capital-T” Texans. His fears take form when he starts seeing visions of his great-grandfather Abe, who fled Nazi Germany as a boy. As the climate crisis intensifies and conditions in the shelter deteriorate, Abe’s ghost grows more powerful. Ultimately, Noah must decide whether he can trust his ancestor - and whether he’s willing to sacrifice his identity and community in order to survive.
Depart, Depart! grapples with intersections of social justice and climate change, asking readers to consider how they’ll react when the world changes in an instant. Who will we turn to? What will we take with us, and what will we have to leave behind? In our rapidly changing world, these are questions we grapple with. Focusing on finding and supporting community after disaster, Depart, Depart! is a story for these uncertain times.
Review: In a brief eighty-one pages, author Sim Kern has succeeded in unpacking several topics of social relevance, but rather than this serving to overwhelm the central message in their debut novella, Depart, Depart!, Kern delivers a story of found family and of those who will rise up to do good in the face of hardship, while, at the same time, confronting queerphobia, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and the general inhumanity of man amidst the chaos of both natural and human-made disasters. And, they wrap it all up within a touch of the metaphysical that offers hope in a dark time.
Hurricane Martha has decimated the city of Houston, and Noah Mishner, a young trans man, has escaped only by the grace of the ghost of his late great-grandfather Abe, who at once seems to be attempting to right the wrongs of his own past while in other instances does not hesitate to insist that Noah repeat Abe’s own shortcomings. As Noah migrates to Dallas, a refugee in his own state, in his own country, alone and broke, trapped between a flood and raging wildfires, with the very real threat of an exhausted food supply at hand, we the reader face his grief, the guilt of leaving his parents and friends behind—of surviving when they did not—his loneliness, his fears, his body dysphoria, and the prejudice and threats he faces in the Dallas arena where he’s sought shelter, where law enforcement picks and chooses whom they will protect, but where he also discovers a small group of folx who become their own community.
Noah being Jewish but being raised atheist means he takes it upon himself to explore his family’s religious history, and in doing so he discovers some unexpected affirmation all while being confronted by real-life biases from a community he thought might accept him for who he is. The final, necessary affirmation, however, comes from those loved ones he’d lost, along with the ghosts of his ancestors, who give him the strength to turn away from Abe’s final directives and turn towards his friends who were left back in the arena and who are in grave danger from a toxic uprising of Dallasites who resent their fellow Texans for invading their city, not to mention those “capital-T” Texans in the arena who are themselves the invaders.
Depart, Depart! is apocalyptic and dystopian in a sense, but it is not without the hope of good overcoming the evils that men do, and I was left impressed by its overall delivery. Noah doesn’t leave the end of his story with all the answers to the question of what the future holds, if he’ll be able to escape the city or if there is such a thing as safe harbor beyond the Dallas city limits, but it is made clear that he won’t face it alone, and that comfort is the best of what friendship, and found family, and knowing he was and is loved, is.
You can buy Depart, Depart! here:
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