Invisible People

Stories of Lives at the Margins
Coming in Paperback

Alex Tizon, Edited by Sam Howe Verhovek, Foreword by Jose Antonio Vargas
Book Cover

PB: $17.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1831-9
Publication: Oct 21

HC: $25.00
EAN: 978-1-4399-1830-2
Publication: Nov 19

Ebook: $25.00
EAN: 978-1-4399-1832-6
Publication: Nov 19

264 pages
5.25 x 8.5
1 halftones

Unforgettable profiles of immigrants, natives, loners, villains, eccentrics, and oracles

Read the Introduction (pdf).


“Somewhere in the tangle of the subject’s burden and the subject’s desire is your story.”—Alex Tizon

Every human being has an epic story, according to the late Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Alex Tizon, who spent his career telling the epic stories of marginalized people—from lonely immigrants struggling to forge a new American identity to a high school custodian who penned a New Yorker short story. Edited by Tizon’s friend and former colleague Sam Howe Verhovek, Invisible People collects the best of Tizon’s rich, empathetic accounts—including the Atlantic magazine cover story about the woman who raised him and his siblings under conditions that amounted to indentured servitude, “My Family’s Slave.”

Mining his Filipino American background, Tizon tells the tales of immigrants from Cambodia and Laos. He offers a fascinating account of the Beltway sniper and insightful profiles of Surfers for Jesus and a man who tracks UFOs. His articles—many originally published in the Seattle Times and the Los Angeles Times—brim with enlightening details about people who existed outside the mainstream’s field of vision.

Introducing Tizon’s pieces, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, Atlantic magazine editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg, Pulitzer Prize winners Kim Murphy and Jacqui Banaszynski, and others salute not only the beauty and brilliance of Tizon’s writing but also the respect he shows his subjects. Invisible People is a loving tribute to a journalist whose search for his own identity prompted him to chronicle the lives of others.

All author/editor proceeds from the sale of this book will benefit the scholarship fund of the Asian American Journalists Association.


" This collection provides a series of captivating stories about everyday people and the lives they lead. While echoes of Studs Terkel’s Working reverberate, Tizon’s collection has a broader coverage and masterful style. His method of engaging subjects with incisive questions and deep respect, coupled with his poetic ability to craft vivid descriptions and slowly unfold a narrative, creates relatable stories about people whom you want to know and understand better."
— Labor Studies Journal

"Invisible People is a labor of love on at least three levels. On a basic level it is a loving tribute by his colleagues and family. A second level is the empathy that Tizon had for the people he wrote about as subjects, not objects. Taken as a set, these individual stories become a whole not just individual persons. On a third level, they become The Beloved Other.... Each person has a distinctive voice, taste, smell, sound, sight and touch.... As he paints faces of feelings, the historical and factual contexts of the larger picture softly emerge.... Each life story demands reflection, sometimes a smile, other times sorrow, a pregnant pause, or an unanswered question."
— Foreword Reviews

Alex Tizon documented the world’s harshest injustices, including modern slavery and genocide. In particular, he explored the psyche of underdogs who, facing considerable difficulty, mightily continued to fight back. Invisible People is brilliant proof of concept.
David Shields, author of Reality Hunger: A Manifesto

"Tizon’s talent was in seeking out those with stories to tell outside of the mainstream: those who don’t quite fit in, whether because of their race, religion, ethnicity, or lifestyle. Easy answers don’t exist in Invisible People; each piece leaves the audience a little bit unsettled, wanting more. The collection may focus on those who are invisible, but Tizon’s writing was anything but."
— Foreword Reviews

"(Alex Tizon) is the master of the telling detail that penetrates the surface and makes us understand something or someone—and ultimately ourselves—in a deeper way. Tizon’s beautiful book is as powerful as they come."Cheryl Strayed

"(B)oth longtime fans and those relatively new to Tizon’s work will come away from this collection with an appreciation for his unquestionable ability to narrate unusual stories in memorable ways."
— Publishers Weekly

"Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tizon honors undersung lives in a posthumously published collection. As a reporter, Tizon (1959-2017) gravitated toward misfits, eccentrics, and outsiders, all of whom he treats with acute sensitivity in this roundup of articles originally published between 1994 and 2017. Two autobiographical pieces form the book's moral center.... The other entries consist of newspaper articles demonstrating the wide range of Tizon's sympathies, rooted in his belief that everyone has an 'epic story' to tell.... A memorable collection that shows how much journalism lost with the early death of one of its finest."
— Kirkus Reviews

Table of Contents

Foreword, by Jose Antonio Vargas
Introduction, by Sam Howe Verhovek


An excerpt from Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self
Introduced by Deanne Urmy


My Family’s Slave
The Atlantic, June 2017
Introduced by Jeffrey Goldberg

For Seattle’s Cambodian Refugees, Time and Distance Can’t Bury Memories of the Killing Fields
Seattle Times, January 23, 1994


Strangers in a Strange Land: The Hmong Orphans of History
Seattle Times, March 12, 1996
Introduced by David Boardman

Death of a Dreamer: A Young Bride from the Philippines Is Murdered
Seattle Times, April 21, 1996
Introduced by Terry McDermott

A Death in Gaza: Peace Advocate and “a Heart Too Big to Hold”
Los Angeles Times, March 18, 2003
Introduced by Lynn Marshall


On Edge: 9/11, a Muslim Family and a Wyoming Town
Seattle Times, September 21, 2001
Introduced by Jacqui Banaszynski

A Matter of Justice and Honor: The Fight to Clear Chief Leschi’s Name
Los Angeles Times, December 28, 2004
Introduced by Scott Kraft

A World Away in Navajo Nation: Far from the Sept. 11 Fallout
Seattle Times, September 1, 2002
Introduced by Alan Berner

The Fish Tale that Changed History
Seattle Times, February 7, 1999
Introduced by Florangela Davila

Alaska by Way of Katrina: At the Far Edge of a New Orleans Diaspora
Los Angeles Times, March 7, 2006
Introduced by Dean Baquet


Thom Jones and the Cosmic Joke: Author’s Surprise “Success” Breeds Misery
From the Seattle Times, April 2, 2000
Introduced by Nicole Brodeur

Seeking Poetic Justice: A Pacifist Author Leads an Online Antiwar Movement Rooted in Language and Imagery
Los Angeles Times, March 3, 2003


An Iraq War All His Own: An Exemplary Soldier Goes on Trial for Refusing to Fight in a War He Calls Illegal
Los Angeles Times, February 5, 2007
Introduced by Kim Murphy

In the Land of Missing Persons
The Atlantic, April 2016
Introduced by Denise Kersten Wills

Last but Not Least: The Lonely White House Bids of Two Longshots
Los Angeles Times, July 25, 2007
Introduced by Sam Howe Verhovek


John Muhammad’s Meltdown
Seattle Times, November 10, 2002
Introduced by James Neff

The Story of a Drive-by Murder at Ballard High
Seattle Times, March 8, 1998
Introduced by Jim Simon


Onward Christian Surfers: Spreading the Gospel on Waikiki
Los Angeles Times, May 31, 2006


In an Old Nuclear Bunker, This Guy Has the Lowdown on UFOs
Los Angeles Times, March 28, 2008
Introduced by Sam Howe Verhovek

Mrs. Leu, Tear Down That Wall! A U.S.-Canada Border Flap in Her Yard
Los Angeles Times, May 26, 2007
Introduced by Millie Quan

This Law Ain’t No Friend of His: Elvis the Cabbie Fights for Kingly Attire
Los Angeles Times, August 24, 2003
Introduced by Brian Lindstrom


“Old Ladies Do What We Can”: Dispatches from a New Nation
Seattle Times, September 18, 2001
Introduced by Jacqui Banaszynski

Crossing America: “We Need to Pray Deep”
Seattle Times, October 2, 2001
Introduced by Alan Berner


About the Author(s)

Alex Tizon (1959–2017) was a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist whose writings include numerous articles for such publications as the Seattle Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Atlantic, as well as the memoir Big Little Man: In Search of My Asian Self.

Sam Howe Verhovek is a former reporter for the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times and the author of Jet Age: The Comet, the 707, and the Race to Shrink the World. He is also a contributing writer for National Geographic and an adjunct faculty member at Seattle University and the University of Washington.