Mia Kirshner thinks globally in her first book


Actress Mia Kirshner officially added “author” to her résumé this week with the Tuesday release of her first book, I Live Here. From the look on her face, she is as happy as we are that it’s not Lez Girls.

Helping her celebrate the milestone in Los Angeles were some of her The L Word co-stars and assorted famous friends. They included out actress and castmate Leisha Hailey. Looks like Jenny and Alice have gotten over that little “Monet has come back from the dead”-spat.

And here’s one for you Shenny fans out there. Kate Moennig showed up looking very Shane today, or possibly very Shane with a bit of a head cold today.

And then here is Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason star Jacinda Barrett sharing a laugh with Mia about how she can’t remember the names of any of her old Real World: London castmates either. Wasn’t there some guy who only ate Ranch sauce or something?

But enough judging the book by its cover, so to speak. It’s what is inside I Live Here that really counts. Publisher Pantheon Books describes the mixed media work as a “paper documentary intimate journey” to humanitarian crises in four corners of the world: war in Chechnya, ethnic cleansing in Burma, globalization in Mexico, and AIDS in Malawi.

Told through travelogues, journals, short stories, photos, illustrations and comics, I Live Here is a serious account of the plight of refugees and displaced people — particularly women and children — in some of the most troubled parts of the world.

The collaborative project was co-authored by J.B. Mackinnon (Dead Man in Paradise, Plenty) and creative directors Paul Shoebridge and Michael Simons. The book also features works by graphic journalist Joe Sacco, artists Phoebe Gloeckner and Kamel Khelif and writers Ann-Marie MacDonald, Chris Abani and Karen Connelly, among others.

The book was a seven-year labor of love for Mia. At the official I Live Here blog, she said:

Working on the book has changed how I see the world. We were allowed into the secret worlds of child soldiers, underage sex workers, orphans left behind by AIDS. The experience stripped away the fat from my life. Sometimes it left me cynical and raw, at other times, humbled. Sometimes I was very sad, but the one constant has been the inspiration I’ve taken from the people that we met along the way.

Taking a look at the book’s gorgeous website, I must say I’m impressed. This is no vanity project or self-indulgent memoir, as we’ve grown accustomed to getting from celebrities. Instead the book is as difficult to categorize as it is ambitious. And it’s not over. Mia told Publishers Weekly that she plans to make I Live Here into a four-part series.

She has also founded the I Live Here Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to “telling the stories of silenced and unheard people” through a variety of media projects. Its first was a creative writing program for juvenile prisoners in Lilongwe, Malawi. Mia is also donating all of her royalties from the first book to Amnesty International.

So far, praise has been fairly glowing. New York Magazine called the book “powerful” and described it as a “touching, gorgeously produced and thoughtfully edited compilation of stories from the world’s trouble spots,” while Glamour said it was “gut-wrenching … and hauntingly beautiful” and Elle called it “compelling.”

Hmm, maybe Mia should add another title to her résumé: “world saver.” That has a nice ring to it.

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