Åarhus Gallery, 50 Main St., will host a book reading by the four editors of “Somalis in Maine: Crossing Cultural Currents” Friday, Sept. 9 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Refreshments and a question and answer discussion will follow the reading.

Somalis have attracted attention nearly everywhere the global diaspora has taken them. In early 2001, Lewiston experienced an unexpected influx of Somali refugees, catching many residents by surprise. Tensions ensued and Lewiston became a site of national and international media attention in 2002 when the mayor wrote an open letter in the newspaper asking Somalis to stop coming. The Somali Narrative Project at the University of Maine was established in 2004 to address some of the challenges and tensions of Somali refugee resettlement in Lewiston.

The collaborative and interdisciplinary project involves Somali students, Somali community members in Lewiston and the four faculty members who edited the book: Belfast resident Kim Huisman, Associate Professor of Sociology; Mazie Hough, Associate Director of Women’s Studies and Assistant Professor in History; Carol Toner, Director of the Maine Studies Program and Research Associate in History; and Kristin Langellier, Professor of Communication and Journalism.

“Somalis in Maine” offers a kaleidoscope of voices that situate the story of Somalis’ migration to Lewiston within a larger cultural narrative. Combining academic analysis with refugees’ personal stories, this anthology includes reflections on leaving Somalia, living in refugee camps, the experiences of Somali youth in U.S. schools, the reasons for Somali secondary migration to Lewiston, the employment of many Lewiston Somalis at Maine icon L. L. Bean and community dialogues with white Mainers. “Somalis in Maine” seeks to counter stereotypes of refugees as being socially dependent and unable to acculturate, to convey the richness and diversity of Somali culture and to contribute to a greater understanding of the intertwined futures of Somalis and Americans.

The event is free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase, and proceeds will go to famine relief. For more information, call 338-0001 or visit aarhusgallery.com.

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