What God Is Honored Here? Cover Reveal + Details + Presale

The cover for What God Is Honored Here?: Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss by and for Native Women and Women of Color (University of Minnesota Press, October, 2019), is here and it is gorgeous:

What God final cover

For further book details, and to pre-order, please click here.

What God Is Honored Here?
Writings on Miscarriage and Infant Loss by and for Native Women and Women of Color
Shannon Gibney and Kao Kalia Yang, Editors

What God Is Honored Here? is the first book of its kind—and urgently necessary. This is a literary collection of voices of Indigenous women and women of color who have undergone miscarriage and infant loss, experiences that disproportionately affect women who have often been cast toward the margins in the United States of America.

From the story of dashed cultural expectations in an interracial marriage to poems that speak of loss across generations, from harrowing accounts of misdiagnoses, ectopic pregnancies, and late-term stillbirths to the poignant chronicles of miscarriages and mysterious infant deaths, What God Is Honored Here? brings women together to speak to one another about the traumas and tragedies of womanhood. In its heartbreaking beauty, this book offers an integral perspective on how culture and religion, spirit and body, unite in the reproductive lives of women of color and Indigenous women as they bear witness to loss, search for what is not there, and claim for themselves and others their fundamental humanity. Powerfully and with brutal honesty, they write about what it means to reclaim life in the face of death.

Editors Shannon Gibney and Kao Kalia Yang acknowledge “who we had been could not have prepared us for who we would become in the wake of these words,” yet the writings collected here offer insight, comfort, and, finally, hope for all those who, like the women gathered here, have found grief a lonely place.


Shannon Gibney is a writer, educator, activist, and the author of See No Color, a young adult novel that won the Minnesota Book Award in Young People’s Literature. She is faculty in English at Minneapolis College, where she teaches writing. She has been a Bush Artist and McKnight Writing Fellow. Her critically acclaimed novel Dream Country follows more than five generations of an African-descended family as they crisscross the Atlantic, both voluntarily and involuntarily.

Kao Kalia Yang is author of The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, winner of two Minnesota Book Awards and a finalist for the PEN USA Award in Creative Nonfiction and the Asian Literary Award in Nonfiction. Her second book, The Song Poet, won a Minnesota Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Chautauqua Prize, the PEN USA Award in Nonfiction, and the Dayton’s Literary Peace Prize.

Contributors: Jennifer Baker, Michelle Borok, Lucille Clifton, Sidney Clifton, Taiyon J. Coleman, Arfah Daud, Rona Fernandez, Sarah Agaton Howes, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Soniah Kamal, Diana Le-Cabrera, Janet Lee-Ortiz, Maria Elena Mahler, Chue Moua, Jami Nakamura Lin, Jen Palmares Meadows, Dania Rajendra, Marcie Rendon, Seema Reza, 신 선 영 Sun Yung Shin, Kari Smalkoski, Catherine R. Squires, Elsa Valmidiano.

$19.95 paperback with french flaps

ISBN 978-1-5179-0793-8
256 pages, 5 b&w photos

October 15, 2019

Early praise for WHAT GOD IS HONORED HERE?

“Pregnancy loss is a most enigmatic human sorrow, unique to every woman who suffers it. These stories of resilience, grief, and restoration are essential, for to understand is to heal.”—Louise Erdrich

“What God is Honored Here? is the hardest and most important book I’ve read about parenting, loss, and imagination. It’s also the most frightening book in my world, but not because it is horrific: it is about the terrifying possibilities of love.”—Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy, winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal and finalist for the Kirkus Prize

“These writers have pierced the silence that too often surrounds miscarriage and infant loss, crafting hallowed stories from thoughtful, honest prose. As readers we are invited to witness the heart-mending love of mothers as they share memories of their lost babies, and in the telling offer solace in community.”—Diane Wilson, author of Spirit Car and Beloved Child

“To remember is an act of will and courage, an affirmation of hope and a dreamed-for life. These stories and poems, heart-rending and often traumatic, reveal the resilience that transcends the pain of loss. What God Is Honored Here? consecrates personal and collective sacrifice and contributes to the validation that is essential to adapt to and heal from significant loss.”—Susan Gibney, founder, University of Michigan NICU Hospitals Bereavement Program and Walk to Remember, MS, LLP, RN

Spring Mayhem?

This winter has been loooong in the Twin Cities. Or at least, February and March have been. But we are hoping now that we are really seeing the first incipient signs of spring (knock on cold, wet wood)?

To that end, I am “waking up” my “cold, frozen, winter” website with some updates and announcements.


The big news is that Dream Country will be available in paperback on April 9! Penguin Random House Higher Education recently made an announcement on their website. Find out more information, and pre-order here.


Dream Country is also a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award, in the category of Young Adult Literature. Shannon was interviewed as such by the Friends of the St. Paul Library, earlier this month.


Winners will be announced at the 2019 Minnesota Book Awards ceremony on April 6, in St. Paul.

Next up: Shannon will be a keynote at the next “Keeping Our Faculty: Recruiting, Retaining, and Advancing American Indian Faculty and Faculty of Color,” symposium, March 31 through April 2, at the University of Minnesota.


Shannon’s talk is titled, “Mobilizing Voices of Faculty from Historically Marginalized Communities to Build Power, Change Policy, and Solidify Academic Freedom in Our Institutions.”

loft logo

Shannon is teaching a few classes at the Loft Literary Center this spring and summer.

Writing and Researching YA that Goes Against the Grain,” is a half-day class from 1-5 pm on March 30. It will be followed by a reading and discussion at Milkweed Bookstore in the evening.

Revision and Editorial Work, Applying Feedback: A Class for Writers of Color and Indigenous Writers,” takes place April 3, 6:30-8:30 pm.

Creating Community Through Processing Trauma on the Page, A Template for Assembling an Anthology: A Class for Writers of Color and Indigenous Writers,” is scheduled for April 13, 1-4 pm.

Finally, I am teaching my first writing class for the smaller people (ages 9-11), on writing graphic novels: “Graphic Novels: Down to the BONE.” It is a week-long class, July 29 — August 2, 1-4 pm.

working toward racial equity cover

Last, but certainly not least, the academic text Working Toward Racial Equity in Composition: Six Perspectives, written by Renee DeLong, Taiyon J. Coleman, Kathleen Sheerin DeVore, Shannon Gibney, Michael C. Kuhne, and Valerie Deus, is now available, from Routledge publishing.

From the publisher’s description: “This book presents the authors’ attempts to interrogate the ways that white institutional, pedagogical, and curricular heteronormativity affects equity in writing instruction at Two Year Colleges. Written from a wide range of subject and identity positions, this volume explores issues that arise among students inside historically white-dominant classrooms, among faculty as curriculum and hiring decisions are made, and among colleagues when they attempt to engage the wider institution in equity work. Aiming to significantly change how urban Community College writing instruction is delivered in this country, the book operates on the principle that equity is essential to successful writing pedagogy, curricular development, and student success.”

To get a flavor for the content presented in the volume, read “The Risky Business of Engaging Racial Equity in Writing Instruction: A Tragedy in Five Acts,” which won the 2017 Mark Reynolds Award from Teaching English in the Two-Year College for Best Article.







Ringing in 2019 Right!


The Nerdy Book Club published the first installment of its Best YA Fiction of 2018 today, including a beautifully dense paragraph of appreciation for Dream Country. An excerpt:

“Dream Country is a work that asks big questions and doesn’t offer easy answers – it’s perfect for teen readers who are looking for titles that stretch their understanding of the world and self. There’s also so much here for classrooms and book groups to dig into. This is truly a tour de force and an outstanding example of what young adult literature CAN do when it stretches and takes risks and is in the talented, careful, passionate hands of a master writer like Gibney.”

Nicolas Books

Get your calendar out, Ann Arbor, and mark the evening of Wednesday, January 30 down for a reading and discussion of Dream Country with Shannon at Nicola’s Books! Find out more here.

albion college

Shannon will be doing a residency at Albion College at the end of this month, visiting classes on Wednesday, January 30, and giving a reading on Thursday, January 31. She is looking forward to sharing Dream Country with the community there.

the coil

The Coil Literary Magazine featured an excerpt from Dream Country on December 26. You can check it out here.


Dream Country has made Penn Graduate School of Education Professor Ebony Elizabeth Thomas’ fourth annual Best Books of 2018 for Young Readers list. “In choosing the list, Thomas and her team showcase authors and illustrators whose work deals with issues like gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, and socioeconomic class in ways that are real and empathetic,” (Penn GSE Newsroom post).

In the category of YA fiction, Thomas and her team write that they were “stunned” by Dream Country.


YALSA nominated Dream Country as a #BFYA2019 in their December 14 edition.

YALSA writes: “Five generations of family history unfold against the backdrop of the founding of Liberia in Gibney’s haunting novel. The five-part book begins in present day Minnesota before moving backward and forward in time, telling the stories of young people trying to find a home while also exploring what it means to be African as opposed to African American, or an immigrant versus a member of an indigenous people.”

Dream Country on more ‘Best of 2018’ lists

Dream Country was named a Best Book of 2018 in the Best YA Historical Fiction  category, by Kirkus.


The judges highlighted this phrase from the initial review: “A necessary reckoning of tensions within the African diaspora—an introduction to its brokenness and a place to start healing.”

kirkus badge-young-adult-100x128

What She Reads also included Dream Country on its Best YA Books of 2018 list.

what she reads header-1

Jena Brown writes, “Gibney shows us in raw, unflinching detail how racism looks. How it feels. How it stems and grows, from one group of people to another, blossoming and breeding, hate fueling and feeding hate, from one generation to the next. This story is emotional. It’s uncomfortable. But it’s real. Without understanding the pain of our past, how can we possibly grasp the difficulty in our present? Gibney answers, we can’t. This is a book for teens who have ever felt marginalized. Who have ever felt that they don’t fit, they don’t belong, that they aren’t enough. For anyone that has ever wanted to understand. The deep exploration of very real topics stemming from this story will be ones that stay with you, long after these pages end.”


Dream Country also made the cut at Teen Librarian Toolbox, as one of Amanda MacGregor’s favorites of 2018.


She writes, “Gibney’s complex look at one family, told through a wide scope, is moving and unlike anything I have ever read before in YA. This is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Don’t miss it.”


Finally, Audiofile magazine has given Dream Country an “Earphone Award,” which is basically the equivalent of a starred review.

Bahni Turpin narrates.

Wrapping up 2018

As we speed towards the epic end of the year, lots of good news keeps on popping.

NYPL Best Books of 2018

Last week, the New York Public Library announced that Dream Country made its list of Best Books of 2018, in the teen category.

nypl logo

Also, last week, librarian Jonathan Hunt authored an interesting post on SLJ’s “Pondering Printz” blog, in which he mentioned Dream Country as a title that should have more Printz buzz.


Hunt writes, “Dream Country by Shannon Gibney, on the other hand, doesn’t have much Printz buzz despite fabulous reviews. It’s the story of one family across five generations and two countries: the United States and Liberia. This book is epic in every sense of the word, from the numerous characters and various settings to a deep exploration of how slavery and racism resonate through the history of two continents.”


The Printz is the highest award offered for YA literature, and is awarded annually by the ALA.

Finally, Penguin Teen highlighted Dream Country in an article on “Books that offer understanding to the refugee experience,” this week.


November News!

03 Small Dot with URL_8

Shannon’s short essay “My Blackness. (Still) Unfinished,” appeared on mnartists‘ “Blackness and the Not-Yet Finished” series this month, curated by Chaun Webster.




Author Debbie Gonzales interviewed Shannon this month on her podcast, in order to “explore the sports novel as a medium granting athletic protagonists a feeling of authenticity, emotional resonance, and genuine challenges – both on and off of the field.”

You can listen to it here.




This week, Shannon received a literary invitation to participate in and share Dream Country at Politico‘s Women Rule Summit, in Washington DC on December 11.

To say that she is tickled would be an understatement.


Politico writes that, “The Women Rule program offers carefully tailored programming, events and insightful content, as well as the support and connection of a growing and dedicated community of influential women.”


Five starred reviews…Plus, more events!

Dream Country  has received its fifth starred review, from Publisher’s Weekly.


From the review: “With riveting, lyrical prose, Gibney’s accomplished novel explores universal themes of home, family, power struggles, and endurance while demonstrating the liberating power of storytelling.”

Also…More events!

Shannon will read and be in conversation with Korean author Kim Sagwa about her new Milkweed novel, Mina, this Friday night, October 12, 7 pm, at Milkweed Editions, 1011 Washington Ave. S, in Minneapolis.

sagwa gibney


Shannon will also be on a YA literature panel at the Twin Cities Book Festival, this Saturday, October 13, at 1:30 pm:

Young Readers and Teen Stage, Progress Center, 1:30pm

Authors Shannon Gibney (Dream Country), Tiffany Jackson (Monday’s Not Coming), and Kiersten White (The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein) show their character-crafting chops in their new books, and we want to know how they do it. Join these powerhouse authors as they share the stories and inspirations behind their complex characters and the complex worlds in which they live.


Shannon reads at Marcus Books, 3900 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, in Oakland, California,  the evening of Friday, October 19. More details forthcoming.

She also gives the Core Convocation Lecture at St. Kate’s on Wednesday, November 7, 7-8:30 pm, in the Jeanne d’Arc Auditorium (details below).


Join Shannon for a reading and discussion of Dream Country at Paperbacks and Pieces bookstore, 429 Mankato Ave., in Winona, on Thursday, November 15, 5-7 pm.

paperbacks and pieces


More upcoming Dream Country events + press

Shannon has three more readings this coming week:


Monday, September 17, 6:30 pm, at Red Balloon Bookshop.

Shannon Gibney, DREAM COUNTRY

Minneapolis author Shannon Gibney brings her new young adult novel, Dream Country, to Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul. Join Shannon (See No Color) in conversation with fellow author Bryan Bliss (We’ll Fly Away) around Dream Country, the heartbreaking story of five generations of young people from a single African-and-American family pursuing an elusive dream of freedom. Find out more about the book reviewers are calling “incredible,” “heart-wrenching,” “masterfully epic,” and “a necessary reckoning.” Join the conversation with these two amazing authors, and get your books signed, too!

Tuesday, September 18, 7 pm, at Ramsey County Library, Shoreview.


In partnership with East Side Freedom Library and Do Good Roseville, this special event at Ramsey County Library in Shoreview will feature a reading of book excerpts, a discussion with St. Kate’s Professor of English Dr. Taiyon Coleman, and an audience Q&A session.

Written for young adults, “Dream Country” is a heartbreaking story of five generations of young people from a single African-and-American family pursuing an elusive dream of freedom.

Books will be available for purchase from Moon Palace Books.


Friday, September 21, 7 pm, Women and Children First Books.



Check out more press on Dream Country:

“Author finds rich story in Liberia’s American roots,” MPR, September 11.

“Dream Country blog tour,” Jenabrownwrites, September 12.

 “Windows and Mirrors: Dream Country, by Shannon Gibney, The Winged Pen, September 13.

“Blog Tour Review: Dream Country, by Shannon Gibney, In Tori Lex, September 13.

Publisher’s Weekly featured this picture (taken by Andrew Karre) and caption from the Dream Country book launch in their “In Brief” feature on September 13:

A Meaningful Moment

Author Shannon Gibney celebrated the launch of her novel, Dream Country (Dutton), which spans generations and explores a family’s immigration from Liberia to America. The event was held at St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul, Minn., on September 12. The author spoke in conversation with Dr. Taiyon Coleman, a professor at the school, and answered audience questions. At the event, Gibney (l.) met a 20-year-old Liberian student, who was born in a refugee camp. During the Q&A, the student expressed how much the book meant to her.


More Dream Country Press

“In Dream Country, Minnesota Book Award-winner Shannon Gibney confronts ‘history that hasn’t been confronted.”

–St. Paul Pioneer Press

“Review: Dream Country.”

–Star Tribune

“20 new books your friends are going to be talking about this September.”


“Shannon Gibney: On Identity.”

–88 Cups of Tea

“The 19 best new YA books coming out in September 2018.”


“Shannon Gibney: Under-told stories.”

–Minnesota Women’s Press

“16 must-read YA books of fall 2018.”


Early buzz and praise for Dream Country



Early buzz for DREAM COUNTRY by Shannon Gibney!


DREAM COUNTRY by Shannon Gibney

Dutton / on sale September 11, 2018 / ages 14 & up



«A marvelous literary tapestry.” Booklist, starred review


« “A necessary reckoning.” –Kirkus Reviews, starred review


« Historically grand and intimately detailed.” –BCCB, starred review


« “An excellent choice.” –School Library Journal, starred review



THE LILY, the Washington Post’s online vertical for women ran a “Three Questions” interview with Shannon Gibney about DREAM COUNTRY in today’s newsletter. Read and share the full interview here!



The 88 CUPS OF TEA podcast taped an interview with Shannon Gibney onDREAM COUNTRY. The episode will release the first week of September.   


HELLO GIGGLES (11.5 million uvpm) will include DREAM COUNTRY in a “New Releases” roundup the week of September 10th.  


THE MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE (circ. 260,975) will review DREAM COUNTRYin early September.


THE ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS (circ. 177,349) will run an interview with Shannon Gibney about DREAM COUNTRY to release the week of on-sale, September 10th.  


BOOKRIOT (1.2 million uvpm) recently spotlighted DREAM COUNTRY in both its “What’s Up in YA” newsletter and “Hey YA” podcast.  BOOKRIOT also includedDREAM COUNTRY in a roundup of “Books About Immigrants” roundup.


PUBLISHERS WEEKLY included DREAM COUNTRY in a piece on “First-Generation” stories earlier this year.


B&N TEEN highlighted DREAM COUNTRY in its list of “Our Most Anticipated Sophomore YA Novels of 2018: July to December.”



This fall Shannon Gibney will participate in a variety of regional appearances including:


September 12 – Dream Country Launch Event

St. Catherine’s University (St. Paul, MN)


September 18  – Local event in conversation with Dr. Taiyon Coleman

Shoreview Library (Shoreview, MN)


September 21 – Reading & Signing at Women & Children First (Chicago, IL)


October 4 – Heartland Fall Forum (Minneapolis, MN)


October 13 – Twin Cities Book Festival (Minneapolis, MN)


October 19 – Reading & Signing at Marcus Books (Oakland, CA)


November 4 – “Minding Your Mind in Teen Literature” Panel (Excelsior, MN)

Trinity Church, book sales by Excelsior Bay Books




A Midwest Connections Selection


« “A marvelous literary tapestry of family, sacrifice, and dreamsPowerful.”

Booklist, starred review


«  “A moving and melancholic metaphor for the struggle for place and home experienced by those still trapped by the legacy of the triangle of trans-Atlantic trade…. A necessary reckoning of tensions within the African diaspora—an introduction to its brokenness and a place to start healing.”   Kirkus Reviews, starred review


«Historically grand and intimately detailed.”BCCB, starred review


«  “The importance of giving immigrants power to create their own story is wonderfully illustrated in this book. An excellent choice for both public and school libraries.”  School Library Journal, starred review


“[A]n illumination of how humans end up treating each other cruelly and how they resist.” The Horn Book


Remarkable…Gibney weaves this painful history masterfully.” –BookRiot


Dream Country is gut wrenching and incredible.”—Sabaa Tahir, #1 New York Times bestselling author of An Ember in the Ashes


“This story, both sprawling and intimate by turns, is a miracle of construction, and Gibney fits its diasporic pieces the way a master should—with a keen eye, an open heart, a courageous spirit, and a sharp, sharp needle. This novel is a remarkable achievement.—Kelly Barnhill, New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Newbery Medal


“In Dream Country, Shannon Gibney has masterfully woven together the histories of America and Africa through the multigenerational journeys of young people in search of home and self. Beautifully epic, timely, and outstanding in its breadth and scope, this story truly conveys what it means to be African American.”—Ibi Zoboi, author of American Street, National Book Award Finalist


“Shannon Gibney has taken history and imagination and gelled them into a time machine. Here is tragedy and survival, struggle and love, rendered with precision and an empathy born of a writer who has experienced the ‘dream-loop’ of history. Sometimes a story can’t promise healing, or neat closure. Sometimes a story, even a magical one like this, is the necessary reopening of a wound. —Bao Phi, award winning author of A Different Pond and Thousand Star Hotel

Dream Country is a gift of storytelling, of culture, and of understanding for an America that needs this book desperatelyThrough stories woven of manhood and humanity, of growing up and growing into oneself, Gibney shows us how the worlds between us grow wider even as our world grows smaller. She takes us through time and space to find the heart of an imperfect home.”—Kao Kalia Yang, award winning author of The Latehomecomer

Fans of Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing will eagerly embrace this outstanding intergenerational family saga by Shannon Gibney. Skipping across 200 years of history, the characters in Dream Country encounter danger, trauma, and the unwavering desire to find a better life for themselves and their children. This is a must read for 2018 and will have readers of all ages talking and remembering these characters.”—Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books





«School Library Journal—starred review!—August issue

«Kirkus Reviews—starred review!—August 15 issue

«Booklist—starred review!—September issue

«BCCB—starred review!—September issue

The Horn Book—review—September/October issue

The Minneapolis Star Tribune—review—September TK

The St. Paul Pioneer Press—interview—September TK



BookRiot’s Hey YA Podcast—mention—July 25 episode

88 Cups of Tea—interview with Shannon—September 6



BookRiot—Books about immigrant roundup—February 23

Minneapolis Star Tribune (online)—cover spotlight—March 7

Publishers Weekly—First-Generation Tales roundup—May 5

B&N Teen–Our Most Anticipated Sophomore YA Novels of 2018: July to December—June 18

BookRiot—What’s Up in YA Newsletter—July 26

The Lily (Washington Post)—Three Questions interview—August 20

HelloGiggles—new releases roundup—September 10 TK

Diversity in YA Guest Post—run-date TK



Wednesday, September 12, 2018 @6:30 PM

Launch Event –  Recital Hall at St. Catherine’s University (St. Paul, MN)

Book Sales by Moon Palace


Tuesday September 18 @ 7 PM

Shoreview Library (Shoreview, MN) – In conversation with Dr. Taiyon Coleman

Book Sales by Moon Palace


Friday, September 21 @ 7 PM

Women & Children First (Chicago, IL)- Reading and Signing


Thursday, October 4

Heartland Fall Forum (Minneapolis, MN)- Moveable Feast


Saturday, October 13

Twin Cities Book Festival (Minneapolis, MN) – Panel Appearance 


Friday, October 19 @ Time TK

Marcus Books (Oakland, CA) – Reading and signing


Sunday, November 4 @ 3 PM

Trinity Church (Excelsior, MN) – “Minding Your Mind in Teen Literature” Panel

with Kathleen Glasgow, Peter Bognanni, Rachel Gold, & Pete Hautman

Book Sales by Excelsior Bay Books