American Harvest (Hardcover)
God, Country, and Farming in the Heartland
Graywolf Press, 9781644450178, 416pp.
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
An epic story of the American wheat harvest, the politics of food, and the culture of the Great Plains
For over one hundred years, the Mockett family has owned a seven-thousand-acre wheat farm in the panhandle of Nebraska, where Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s father was raised. Mockett, who grew up in bohemian Carmel, California, with her father and her Japanese mother, knew little about farming when she inherited this land. Her father had all but forsworn it.
In American Harvest, Mockett accompanies a group of evangelical Christian wheat harvesters through the heartland at the invitation of Eric Wolgemuth, the conservative farmer who has cut her family’s fields for decades. As Mockett follows Wolgemuth’s crew on the trail of ripening wheat from Texas to Idaho, they contemplate what Wolgemuth refers to as “the divide,” inadvertently peeling back layers of the American story to expose its contradictions and unhealed wounds. She joins the crew in the fields, attends church, and struggles to adapt to the rhythms of rural life, all the while continually reminded of her own status as a person who signals “not white,” but who people she encounters can’t quite categorize.
American Harvest is an extraordinary evocation of the land and a thoughtful exploration of ingrained beliefs, from evangelical skepticism of evolution to cosmopolitan assumptions about food production and farming. With exquisite lyricism and humanity, this astonishing book attempts to reconcile competing versions of our national story.
About the Author
Praise For American Harvest: God, Country, and Farming in the Heartland…
“Books enable readers to broaden their lives, and this one—in which Marie Mutsuki Mockett joins a crew harvesting wheat—is a doozy, as Studs Terkel’s were. . . . I never knew a person on a wheat-harvesting crew, and now I do, thanks to Mockett’s vivid and true account.”—Annie Dillard
“A patient, radiant, kindly book that in its own way determinedly adds a brick to the shining city on the hill where Americans will understand each other.”—Francis Spufford
“Marie Mutsuki Mockett describes the American plains as having 'a subtle gradation in topography that suits a ruminating mind,' and the same can be said of her stunning new book. . . . Her insights are ones we could all stand to learn from right about now.”—John Jeremiah Sullivan
“In the best tradition of travel literature, American Harvest is a discursive odyssey, an exploration of self, others, faith, and a landscape of terrible beauty.”—Randall Balmer