Zak Mucha: Swimming to the Horizon

Join us at Bookends & Beginnings for the launch of author, psychoanalyst, and former social worker Zak Mucha’s new memoir Swimming to the Horizon: Crack, Psychosis, and Street Corner Social Work. Mr. Mucha’s book chronicles his experiences treating the homeless, psychotic, drug-addicted population in Chicago's Uptown. Mr. Mucha will be in conversation with author and Northwestern professor Ignatius Valentine Aloysius, also the current host of Sunday Salon.

Swimming to the Horizon is a look at the bottom rungs of the community mental health system where clinicians with little experience or training are often working with patients holding together lives burdened by drug addiction, severe psychosis, poverty, and generations of trauma. Zak Mucha took over an Assertive Community Treatment team created to provide 24/7 clinical services for a client population who we only see on the local news when police interventions turn into tragedies. Therapy is provided not in fifty-minute sessions, but in those moments where life is attended to in flophouse hotels, emergency rooms, grocery stores, alleyways, and courtrooms.

Read a recent review of the book here.

This is a free event. It will be in-store, on Thursday, May 16, at 6:00 PM. Both authors will have books available for purchase at the event. Please register via EventBrite.


ZAK MUCHA spent seven years working as the supervisor of an Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) program, providing 24/7 services to persons suffering from severe psychosis, substance abuse issues, and homelessness. Mucha has worked as a counselor and consultant for U.S. combat veterans undergoing training for digital forensic investigations in child pornography. He is also a board member for the Legislative Drafting Institute for Child Protection. Before going into the clinical field, Mucha has worked as a freelance journalist, truck driver, furniture mover, construction worker, union organizer, staff member at a juvenile DCFS locked unit, and taught briefly at a women’s prison. He is the author of Emotional Abuse: A Manual for Self-Defense, a collection of poetry, Shadow Box (Albireo MKG, 2019) and The Ambulatorium (PWIC 2023), and a novel, The Heavyweight Champion of Nothing (Dockyard Press, 2021). Visit his website at

IGNATIUS VALENTINE ALOYSIUS is a naturalized U.S. citizen, born in India and raised in Mumbai by a Tamilian father and Anglo-Indian mother. He earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Northwestern University, where he won the Distinguished Thesis Award for fiction. He is a lecturer in writing at Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and in the Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Ignatius is the current host and curator of the long-running reading series Sunday Salon Chicago ( A resident of Evanston, he also serves as a mayor-appointed board member of the Evanston Arts Council. Twice Pushcart nominated, Ignatius is the author of the experimental novel Fishhead. Republic of Want, and his prose and poetry appear in several venues, including Cold Mountain Review, Another Chicago Magazine, Porter Gulch Review, Trampset, Olney Magazine, Roi Fainéant Press, and others. He is currently at work on his next book. Visit


Event date: 
Thursday, May 16, 2024 - 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Event address: 
1620 Orrington Ave
Swimming to the Horizon: Crack, Psychosis, and Street-Corner Social Work By Zak Mucha Cover Image
ISBN: 9798888242254
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
This book cannot be returned.
Published: Koehler Books - February 20th, 2024

The Ambulatorium By Zak Mucha Cover Image
ISBN: 9780996855457
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pay What It Costs Publishing, LLC - December 1st, 2023

Fishhead: Republic of Want By Ignatius Valentine Aloysius Cover Image
ISBN: 9781948954112
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tortoise Books - May 12th, 2020