The Properties of Perpetual Light is an homage to the work of the activist-writer, which author Julian Aguon describes as “the work of bearing witness, wrestling with the questions of one’s day, telling children the truth.” With prose and poetry both bracing and quiet, Aguon weaves together stories from his childhood in the villages of Guam with searing political commentary. Throughout the book, Aguon grapples with one heart-breaking loss after another by immersing himself in the beauty of his island, the magic of Micronesia, and the wisdom of his favorite books and elders.
Julian Aguon is an indigenous human rights lawyer and writer from Guam. He is the founder of Blue Ocean Law, a progressive firm that works at the intersection of indigenous rights and environmental justice. He is brilliant, soulful, and deeply engaged in the struggles of peoples across Oceania to liberate themselves from colonial rule, defend their sacred sites, and obtain justice for a range of harms inflicted upon them by outside forces—from nuclear weapons testing and nonconsensual medical experimentation to extractive industries and climate change. He serves on the Global Advisory Council of Progressive International—a global collective that launched in May 2020 with the mission of mobilizing progressive forces around the world behind a shared vision of social justice.
“A powerful, beautiful book. Its fierce love—of the land, the ocean, the elders and the ancestors—warms the heart and moves the spirit.”
- Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
“A breathtaking book and I mean it—this book took my breath away. The Properties of Perpetual Light is so alive with passion, wisdom and heart, you can almost feel its pulse. A call not only for justice but for a brand-new covenant with our world.”
- Junot Díaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
“I did not know I needed this book until it had me in its embrace like the oldest and dearest of friends, from the very first page. Overflowing with warmth and wisdom and defying all categorization, The Properties of Perpetual Light is philosophy, poetry, memoir, history and self-help for humanity. With bottomless love for his people and place, Aguon guides us through a portal to the Pacific, sharing deep insights earned from life on the existential knife’s edge.”
- Naomi Klein, Senior Correspondent at The Intercept and author of The Shock Doctrine and This Changes Everything
“Inspired spiritual and practical wisdom from a Guam lawyer/poet/seer that transmits ways of knowing, feeling, and acting, which speak directly to the mind and heart of everyone on the planet. If reading this short book doesn't change your life, nothing will.”
- Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University, and former Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967
“What an incredible gift. This book is a powerful spiritual remix, a multi-scalar tapestry of love, kinship, resistance, and creative survival from Oceania. His tribute to our late elder sister, Teresia, brought tears of grief and joy. Ko bati n rabwa Julian, ‘we will live . . . on our own terms.’”
- Katerina Martina Teaiwa, author of Consuming Ocean Island
“Aguon is one of Oceania’s most important thinkers who uses his ability to see through complicated systems to fight for our islands and peoples. With razor-sharp analysis and a ton of heart, he both defends and calls forth our communities. I will regularly return to this book for inspiration—to remind me why I do my own work.”
- Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, author of Iep Jaltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter