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Founded in 2017, The Bare Life Review is the only literary journal whose sole mission is to publish immigrant and refugee writers. 

Our mission, from its earliest conception, has been not simply to "give voice to" or "elevate" the literature of migration, but to provide a forum where its inherent and manifest value is taken absolutely for granted. The project has remained steadfastly artistic in nature, a simple and unapologetic celebration of world literature, but deeply political insofar as it champions writers for whom persistence and survival are inherently, unavoidably, political acts.


This, we believe, is a radical premise: refugee not as outsider granted asylum, but as central figure in a new literary paradigm. The dislocation inherent to the immigrant experience is—increasingly in an era of global climate calamity—fundamental to the human experience. Migration, deracination, estrangement: these will be the universal concerns of the coming generations.

Such cultural moments as ours are, on a large scale, akin to what we might call the moment of artistic creation: art emergent in the aftermath, in the wake, when the language with which we have previously described the world is no longer adequate to the task, and we must set about creating a new one. In this respect we might say the refugee moment is the artistic moment: one in which resides the bare kernel of renaissance. 

Our Story

Co-Founder / Editor-in-Chief
Nyuol Lueth Tong


Fiction Editors
Maria Kuznetsova*


Poetry Editor
Rebecca Liu 

Online Editor

Etan Nechin

Editorial Advisory Board
Jordan Bass
Ainehi Edoro
Dave Eggers
Paul Harding
Naomi Jackson

Ariel Saramandi

Scott Schomburg
Akhil Sharma

Governing Board
Sam Alcabes
Megan Cummins
Gwen Litvak

Nate Kauffman

*Indicates an editor who also serves on our Editorial Advisory Board



Nyuol Lueth Tong (Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief) is the editor of the first-ever anthology of short fiction from South Sudan, There Is a Country (McSweeney’s, 2013), as well as In Their Faces a Landmark: Stories of Movement and Displacement (McSweeney’s, 2018), a collection of stories by immigrant and refugee writers. Tong studied philosophy and comparative literature at Duke University and fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His short fiction has appeared in McSweeney’sThe BafflerIntersect MagazineNew SudanGurtong, and NPR, among other publications. He is a Ph.D. student of Comparative Literature at Yale University.

David Wystan Owen (Co-Founder, Publisher) is the author of Other People’s Love Affairs: Stories (Algonquin Books) named by Amazon as one of the 20 Best Books of Fiction & Literature for 2018. A California native and first generation American, he holds graduate degrees in creative writing from University of California, Davis and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was an Iowa Arts Fellow. His fiction and essays have appeared in A Public Space, The American Scholar, Literary Hub, and The Threepenny Review, where he was formerly Deputy Editor.

Ellen Namakaokealoha Kamoe (Co-Founder, Director of Operations) is a non-profit development professional and recent MLIS grad. She brings more than a dozen years of experience, having worked and volunteered for a wide range of organizations, including UCs Berkeley and Davis, Seacology, and the ACLU. Kamoe is hapa, with roots in Hawai'i and Austria, where, respectively, the land was taken from her people, and her people were forced from the land. She received her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from UCLA, spent a semester abroad in Samoa, and in 2020 earned her Master's in Library and Information Science from the University of Washington.


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