In 2007 I spent a month in Lesotho, a country whose name I didn’t know how to pronounce just weeks prior. Back then, I didn’t know how much time I’d end up spending there, didn’t know how important the Mountain Kingdom would become for me.
Now, just over a decade later, my first book is out—Everything Lost Is Found Again: Four Seasons in Lesotho, a love-drunk ballad to the rugged mountain nation where I returned again and again, ultimately living in the country for nearly two years. Where some travel books present Africa as an exotic backdrop for the adventures of white travelers, I wanted to write a book that takes seriously the daily joys and struggles of the Basotho people, a book that moves away from the generic myths of “Africa” and toward the specificity of a country like Lesotho, the granularity of a mountain town like Mokhotlong. I wanted to celebrate the country and its people in all their hilarious, messy, and glorious humanity.
And while I am grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend in Lesotho, and the brilliant friends and colleagues I’ve met along the way—it is the connection with Touching Tiny Lives that has been most meaningful from my time there. Across the span of a decade, I’ve had the privilege of living and working with Nthabeleng Lephoto and the employees of the TTL safehome and outreach team, a dedicated and compassionate staff whose equal I haven’t yet encountered. Spending time with the people who make TTL run has been a source of inspiration over the years, and the organization and its employees play a special role in my book. I can only hope I’ve done justice by representing them well.
As a writer, I’ve been lucky to find a home with Dzanc Books, who put out Everything Lost Is Found Again. It became clear that Dzanc was the right place when Michelle Dotter, the publisher, agreed to donate 15% of sales from the book to Touching Tiny Lives; my enthusiasm for TTL has now become hers. In an age when borders are closing and empathy toward our fellow planet-dwellers is shrinking, I hope Everything Lost Is Found Again continues to find new readers. I want to share my love of the stunning kingdom of Lesotho, to honor the resilient and joyful Basotho people, and to introduce readers to the life-saving work that Touching Tiny Lives does every day.
Will McGrath has worked as a reporter, homeless shelter caseworker, public radio producer, UPS truck loader, Burger King mayo-applicator, ghostwriter, and ghosteditor, in slightly different order. He spent twenty months living in the southern African kingdom of Lesotho – the subject of his forthcoming book, Everything Lost is Found Again (Dzanc Books), which won the Disquiet Open Borders Book Prize in 2017. He has written for The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, Foreign Affairs, Guernica, and Roads & Kingdoms, among other magazines and journals. His writing has won nonfiction awards including the 2014 Felice Buckvar Prize and has been translated into Chinese, Hungarian, and Japanese.
Lu DonnellySep, 25, 2019
My Book Club loved reading your book, Will. We’re recommending it all over Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and have chosen to make our yearly donation this year to Touching Tiny Lives. Thanks for writing it and sharing yourself with us via Skype!