Understand the world.
One country and one novel at a time. 
 

THE ALIGNIST is a quarterly box subscription that will transport you to different corners of the world.

Follow the struggles of a cast of characters through a war-torn country and trace hope across the ocean in a rickety boat. Fiction offers an entry point for making sense of complex conflicts and crises, but on it’s own, it’s not enough to forge an informed understanding of the world. THE ALIGNIST connects novels to the news. It will deliver a work of fiction to your doorstep, along with everything you need to understand the real world social and political issues it describes. THE WHOLE STORY edition also includes authentic recipes and ethically-sourced crafts to make you feel like you’re truly transported to the setting of the novel.  

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There are two levels of engagement with THE ALIGNIST. An essentials-only JUST THE FACTS subscription, or a multi-sensory experience with THE WHOLE STORY.

Both subscriptions offer an in-depth engagement with news and history that will off a deeper connection to our wide world.

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JUST THE FACTS

A specially-selected work of international fiction delivered to your door, along with a custom-made "roadmap" to connect the novel’s plot story to lived realities, historical insights, and key statistics to help make sense of the world in an in-depth and engaged way.

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THE WHOLE STORY

A work of fiction, "roadmap," plus an array of ethically-sourced artisanal goods, culinary items, authentic recipes, and art objects from the featured country to create a multi-sensory experience of the featured country that also gives back to people living there.

THE EGYPT BOX

A quarter million Egyptians protested in Tahrir Square in the early days of 2011. So many that it seemed their sheer mass alone changed the course of history and  countered the weight of decades of a military dictatorship. The world watched, expectant. But as the cameras panned over the expanse of protesters, some of the details were lost. How could we see the many injustices and hundreds of sleights each protester had suffered to draw them to that space? We would never see the many sacrifices and fears that had to be overcome to stand their ground in the face of oppression. 

In Cigarette Number Seven, this edition’s featured novel, Donia Kamal offers individual portraits drawn from the teeming panorama of resistance. Through the experiences of a young skeptic turned activist, we see the years of inequity, the intergenerational experience of wrong as the force for change. The novel explores the turning tide from the inside. In meeting Nadia and other protesters, we see clearly what it took to not just shift the course of history, but also the personal shift required to believe that a change could come. The power of the square, as Kamal writes, is that it offered what was needed to believe.

This edition will take you through the experience of being in throngs of protest after decades of repression and its ROADMAP will guide you through what happened after the historic moment of change so many had longed for was finally realized.

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 JUST THE FACTS
- A letter for THE ALIGNIST founder
- A copy of Cigarette Number Seven
A specially designed ROADMAP to guide you through the novel

THE WHOLE STORY 
- A letter from THE ALIGNIST's founder
- A copy of Cigarette Number Seven
A specially designed ROADMAP to guide you through the novel
- A series of recipes featuring Egyptian favorites by cookbook author Dyna Eldaief
- A pouch of organic dukkah spice
- A pure Egyptian cotton dishtowel made through Egypt Fair Trade, a nonprofit protecting local crafts
- A vial of soft Egyptian musk

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THE VIETNAM BOX

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A monkey bridge is an unsteady crossing of ropes and bamboo strung from one bank to another across a river. Called cầu khỉ in Vietnamese, this bit of humble infrastructure not only represents a facet of life in the Mekong Delta, but it also comes to symbolize the perpetual in between that is so much a part of the nature of immigration. While Monkey Bridge by Lan Cao is not set in Vietnam, it returns to its countryside in memory and comes to life in the durian fruits and lemongrass stalks imported as reminders of home by a community of 
refugees and rememberers.

The novel follows a mother who relives her past in private and a daughter who learns how far she can feel from a woman with whom she shares a home and a bloodline...but not quite a life. The book takes us to many bewildering inbetweens, where so much is unsteady, so much beckons and so much pulls us back. For those who lived through the Vietnam War and it’s painful images and nightly bulletins, this 
novel offers the other side of the story. One of a family torn apart by conflict so devastating it has all but turned its members into strangers to one another.

The VIETNAM box featuring, Monkey Bridge, a custom-made ROADMAP, and more will guide you through the longstanding impact of war on a country and the people who are forced to flee it.

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JUST THE FACTS
- A letter for THE ALIGNIST founder
- A copy of Monkey Bridge
A specially designed ROADMAP to guide you through the novel

THE WHOLE STORY 
- A letter from THE ALIGNIST's founder
- A copy of Monkey Bridge
A specially designed ROADMAP to guide you through the novel
- A series of recipes featuring Vietnamese comfort foods
- A sample of fair trade organic Vietnamese tea from Arbor Teas
- A handwoven bamboo coaster
- A fair trade, hand-painted ceramic tea mug made in Bat Trang, a small village on the Red River
- A fair trade bird ornament made by hand from recycled paper
- A coin purse made from from recycled plastic

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Learn to make traditional Vietnamese dishes at home.

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THE NIGERIA BOX

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Nigeria is one of the top 15 oil-producing countries in the world. Oil accounts for the vast majority of the country's government revenue and has earned billions for a few. And yet, Nigeria is home to more impoverished people than any other country— and was ranked dead last for its “commitment to reducing inequality” in a list compiled by international development organizations last year. 

Oil on Water dives deep into the divide between those who reap the spoils and those who live in the spills. Through the story of single woman’s kidnapping, Helon Habila unspools a story of how oil has held so many hostage in Nigeria.

This edition’s custom-made ROADMAP will guide you through the fraught history of oil production, as it plays out on ancestral lands and leaves behind only the fumes of new wealth for most people. As with any buried treasure, oil can be both a blessing and a curse.

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JUST THE FACTS
- A letter for THE ALIGNIST founder
- A copy of Oil on Water
A specially designed ROADMAP to guide you through the novel

THE WHOLE STORY 
- A letter from THE ALIGNIST's founder
- A copy of Oil on Water
A specially designed ROADMAP to guide you through the novel
- A series of recipes featuring Nigerian classics
- A bar of fair trade dark chocolate from Endangered Species Chocolate
- A bracelet made from recycled flip flops in a Nigerian village
- A brass coin once used as currency in the Niger Delta
- A bar of menthe-scented Nigerian African black soap from Shea Terra Organics
- Greeting cards featuring patterns on traditional Nigerian kente cloths

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UNDERSTAND LIFE AMIDST MILITANTS IS LIKE IN NIGERIA

The militant organization Boko Haram sent shockwaves around the world when it kidnapped more than 270 girls from a school in northern Nigeria. Despite widespread condemnation and an appeal to to #bringbackourgirls, they're still at it, having abducted more than 110 girls in February 2018. Oil on Water focuses on the very different response to the kidnapping of the wife of a British oil executive. The novel, written by a former journalist, offers a sense of what it's like for people to live amidst militants in rural Nigeria.

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THE SYRIA BOX

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The news out of Syria has been a constant barrage of horror. To understand the conflict, it’s necessary to know what prompted it. The uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad followed years of oppression. 

In No Knives of the Kitchens of this City, Khaled Khalifa shows just how meaning was stripped from the lives of ordinary people in big and small ways. The work is as much an ode to the wonders of Khalifa’s home city of Aleppo as it is as a recounting of how an authoritarian
regime can slip into so many facets of one’s existence.

The English translation of the novel was published in late 2016, just as a four year long struggle between Syrian rebels and the Assad regime in Aleppo was entering its last grueling months. Despite watching his hometown bend and break under a brutal bombing campaign and all out siege, Khalifa maintained faith in the city which has watched over so many centuries of human civilization and human destruction. 

“Aleppo will not die,” Khalifa has said, “because it cannot die. Aleppo will rise again and return, better than it was.”

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Support Syrian families through handmade items.

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JUST THE FACTS
- A letter for THE ALIGNIST founder
- A copy of No Knives in the Kitchens of this City
A specially designed ROADMAP to guide you through the novel

THE WHOLE STORY 
- A letter from THE ALIGNIST's founder
- A copy of No Knives in the Kitchens of this City
A specially designed ROADMAP to guide you through the novel
- A series of recipes featuring Aleppan specialities by Anissa Helou
- A notebook made by Syrian refugee women in Lebanon from Fajr Beirut
- A bar of Aleppo soap made in Syria through the Karam Foundation
- A box of zaatar seasoning from Spicely Organics
- A postcard from the Ana Collective

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Understand the complexities of conflict through a deeply personal work of fiction.

A scene of destruction in Aleppo after it was hit by government airstrikes in 2014. Image by Patrick Hilsman.

A scene of destruction in Aleppo after it was hit by government airstrikes in 2014. Image by Patrick Hilsman.

 
 

THE INDIA BOX

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Mark Twain called India “the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the globe combined.” Something about traveling to India makes one feel more like a seeker than a tourist. There’s so often a longing involved whether it be for a look at the Taj Mahal, that mausoleum of love, or for the seemingly singular solace of sun salutations performed in a hilltop ashram.

The Association of Small Bombs is about a different facet of the massive, diamond-shaped nation. It takes as its subject the sort of violence that shakes a city, captures headlines, elicits political furor -- and then recedes to memory. Karan Mahajan captures the privacy of lingering pain in a city of millions where voices and whispers of family members are never far. He offers us a look into the lives of those impacted by a bombing and shows how trauma doesn’t die when the cameras turn away, or the headlines fade to black.

In other words, The Association of Small Bombs begins when the news ends. And it shines a light on parts of India that enlightenment seekers may ignore: class anxiety, interfaith vitriol, and political corruption. The ROADMAP included in this box will guide you through these issues, underpinning this deeply moving story of loss with ground realities that are the foundation for life in India.

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Each INDIA box contains an assortment of items to support your literary journey.

JUST THE FACTS
- A letter for THE ALIGNIST founder
- A copy of The Association of Small Bombs
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A specially designed ROADMAP to guide you through the novel
- An invitation to a live Q&A with Karan Mahajan, the novel's author, and South Asia expert Bilal Baloch

THE WHOLE STORY 
- A letter from THE ALIGNIST's founder
- A copy of The Association of Small Bombs
-
A specially designed ROADMAP to guide you through the novel
- An invitation to a live Q&A with the author Karan Mahajan and South Asia expert Bilal Baloch
- A series of recipes from Delhi by Rano Singh of Pansaari
- An artbook about the gender connotations of saris from Studio Kohl
- A foldable rickshaw
- A raakhi bracelet
- A packet of fair trade masala chai from Vahdam Tea
- Two pop-art style fair-trade coasters from Tesoros Trading Company

Connect fact to fiction to fiction with our signature ROADMAP.

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Sample the foods the main characters are likely to eat.

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THE MEXICO BOX

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THE ALIGNIST's first featured novel, Prayers for the Stolen, follows a young girl named Ladydi (after the late, great princess of course) as she navigates a landscape swarming with drug cartels and human traffickers. As she comes of age, she comes into contact with some of the most brutal realities of life in Mexico — from the underground world of drug cartels to a town of children growing up with migrant fathers. 

Her experiences may well be those of many currently living in Guerrero, the part of Mexico she calls home, now, perhaps, even more so than when the book was written. Three years after the disappearance of 43 students from a bus in Guerrero in 2014 made headlines, the state, which is one of the primary suppliers of the United State’s increasing demand for opioids, has became one of Mexico’s most violent. The Guardian has reported that morgues were so inundated by dead bodies that workers walked off the job, overwhelmed by the scent of decay.

Based on extensive research, Prayers for the Stolen presents a deeply human portrait of life in a country that has seen a confounding boom in both tourism and homicides in recent years. It offers a sense of life beyond resort towns — and a portrait of what they might become if the power of cartels isn't checked. 

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JUST THE FACTS
- A letter for THE ALIGNIST founder
- A copy of Prayers for the Stolen
- A specially designed ROADMAP to guide you through the novel
- An invitation to a live Q&A with Jennifer Clement, the novel's author, and ProPublica reporter Ginger Thompson

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THE WHOLE STORY 
- A letter from THE ALIGNIST's founder
- A copy of Prayers for the Stolen
-
A specially designed ROADMAP to guide you through the novel
- An invitation to a live Q&A with Jennifer Clement, the novel's author, and ProPublica reporter Ginger Thompson
- A series of recipes from Guerrero by Barbara Sibley of La Cocina Mexicana
- A set of temporary tattoos by Mexico City-based artist Manual Cetina
- A tapestry featuring the Virgin of Guadeloupe
- A box of fair trade Mexican oregano from Spicely Organics
- A fair tradeDay of the Dead figurine from Tesoros Trading Company
- A fair trade cactus tin ornament from Tesoros Trading Company
- An assortment of confections from Mexico including peanut marzipan, tamarind candy, and a stone-ground chocolate disk

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Get a taste of Guerrero.

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Delve into the realities tourists never see with THE ALIGNIST's signature ROADMAP. 

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