The Mushroom at the End of the World

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I was fortunate enough to be assigned this book for a transnational lives graduate seminar.  When it came in the mail, I was away from home and asked my husband to open the package so I knew which book had arrived. When he saw the title, he told me “This isn’t for school, this is a “you” book!” Sometimes, reading assignments can perfectly align with your interests.

This book tracks a mushroom that cannot be mass produced (and thus mass marketed) and draws a wide specialized global market. The mushroom is used as a metaphor for the often displaced and disjointed lives engaged in by people such as immigrants, refugees, survivors, and capitalist dissidents. The mushroom only grows in disturbed forests, both its thriving and its harvest occur in tandem with the spoils of modern notions of development. The book uses this metaphor to speak about adaption, survival, and the territorial and ideological limits of seemingly all-pervasive forces. It is a very sensory experience that speaks through smells and tastes as much as through text.

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