Left Bank Books, 21 East Main St./Route 1, will welcome the editors of “Somalis in Maine: Crossing Cultural Currents” for a discussion and signing of their oral history collection Friday, July 15 at 7 p.m. The Somali Narrative Project, a collaborative among four University of Maine faculty members with residents of the Lewiston-Auburn area Somali population, led to the publication of this book documenting the experiences of the newly arrived residents.

The interdisciplinary group initially came together in 2004 in response to cultural tensions that arose with the Somalis’ mass immigration to Maine. They sought to create “a library of real stories,” in one Somali’s words, stories that promoted understanding and improved communication and that documented that period through narrative.

Because oral tradition is essential to Somali culture, storytelling was a natural next step. In telling their stories, a contemporary history emerged and is now chronicled in rich personal revelations about the Somali experience from the community’s point of view.

The impetus for the book began with a reader’s theater performance by members of the Somali Narrative Project at the American Folk Festival. An editor from North Atlantic Books was in the audience and was so intrigued by what she saw, she proposed combining the voices of scholars and oral histories into a published anthology. “Somalis in Maine” includes pieces by the four editors, along with Somali students and alumni from the University of Maine, in addition to nationally and internationally known Somali scholars.

Edited by Belfast resident Kimberly A. Huisman of the University of Maine sociology faculty; Mazie Hough, the associate director of the Women in the Curriculum and Women’s Studies Program; Kristin M. Langellier of the communication and journalism faculty; and Carol Nordstrom Toner, Maine Studies Program director and research associate, the book contains ethnography, personal stories and reflections regarding the cross-cultural interactions and collaborations between Somali refugees and their new neighbors in Lewiston.

This event is free and the public is cordially invited. For more information or to reserve a copy of the book, call Left Bank Books at 548-6400. The shop is open daily.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email to dernest@villagesoup.com.