Futureface

A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging
Hardcover

Buy
Add Futureface to Goodreads

An acclaimed journalist travels the globe to solve the mystery of her ancestry, confronting the question at the heart of the American experience of immigration, race, and identity: Who are my people?

“A rich and revealing memoir . . . Futureface raises urgent questions having to do with history and complicity.”—The New York Times

Alex Wagner has always been fascinated by stories of exile and migration. Her father’s ancestors immigrated to the United States from Ireland and Luxembourg. Her mother fled Rangoon in the 1960s, escaping Burma’s military dictatorship. In her professional life, Wagner reported from the Arizona-Mexico border, where agents, drones, cameras, and military hardware guarded the line between two nations. She listened to debates about whether the United States should be a melting pot or a salad bowl. She knew that moving from one land to another—and the accompanying recombination of individual and tribal identities—was the story of America. And she was happy that her own mixed-race ancestry and late twentieth-century education had taught her that identity is mutable and meaningless, a thing we make rather than a thing we are.

When a cousin’s offhand comment threw a mystery into her personal story–introducing the possibility of an exciting new twist in her already complex family history—Wagner was suddenly awakened to her own deep hunger to be something, to belong, to have an identity that mattered, a tribe of her own. Intoxicated by the possibility, she became determined to investigate her genealogy. So she set off on a quest to find the truth about her family history.

The journey takes Wagner from Burma to Luxembourg, from ruined colonial capitals with records written on banana leaves to Mormon databases and high-tech genetic labs. As she gets closer to solving the mystery of her own ancestry, she begins to grapple with a deeper question: Does it matter? Is our enduring obsession with blood and land, race and identity, worth all the trouble it’s caused us?

The answers can be found in this deeply personal account of her search for belonging, a meditation on the things that define us as insiders and outsiders and make us think in terms of “us” and “them.” In this time of conflict over who we are as a country, when so much emphasis is placed on ethnic, religious, and national divisions, Futureface constructs a narrative where we all belong.

“Alex Wagner is brilliant and hilarious.”—Eddie Huang, bestselling author of Fresh Off the Boat

 
 


Sign Up for our Newsletter

Sign up for the One World newsletter for updates, new releases, and more from today’s most groundbreaking writers and the One World team.

Praise

Futureface raises urgent questions having to do with history and complicity. . . . A rich and revealing memoir.”The New York Times

“Alex Wagner is brilliant and hilarious. Futureface is a magic trick: She starts with the humble story of a third-culture kid’s existential loneliness and ends with a smart, timely, and moving exploration of family lies, exile and immigration, genetics, and the mystery of human belonging.”—Eddie Huang, bestselling author of Fresh Off the Boat
 
Futureface is an important contribution to the American conversation—Alex Wagner’s story is insightful, moving, informative, and searing. I have deeply admired Alex for a long time as an original thinker, a keenly observant journalist, and a funny, empathetic human being. Read this book and you’ll understand why.”—Wes Moore, bestselling author of The Other Wes Moore

What the Eyes Don’t See

The dramatic story of the Flint water crisis—the signature environmental disaster of our time—and an inspiring tale of scientific resistance by a relentless physician who stood up to power “Flint… More

Brothers of the Gun

A bracingly immediate memoir by a young man coming of age during the Syrian war, Brothers of the Gun is an intimate lens on the century’s bloodiest conflict and a… More