Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

Coming Together When Things Fall Apart: Giving Voice to Emotional Truth in our Times

The Bay Area Book Festival held a virtual panel featuring Viet Thanh Nguyen about putting words to complicated emotions and situations.

This event is for everyone who’s ever been moved by a writer’s uncanny gift for describing the indescribable: a gift that makes us feel seen and understood in all our complexity. It’s a gift we need now, more than ever. A novelist’s stock in trade is plumbing the emotional landscape of characters experiencing freefall, upheaval, uncertainty—just as all of us are experiencing, in some measure, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the overwhelming emotions of this current moment render us speechless, who better to break the silence and put words to complicated feelings than some of contemporary literature’s most groundbreaking, humane, and breathtaking voices?

Acclaimed novelist R.O. Kwon’s transcendent New York Times essay about grief in lockdown was the inspiration for this conversation. Joining her are Anthony Doerr, whose blockbuster World War II novel All the Light We Cannot See illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another; and Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose witty, exquisite The Sympathizer captures the ambivalence and humanity of “a man of two minds” in the midst of a traumatic war. Moderated by award-winning author Danielle Evans, who recently penned a beautiful essay about sheltering-in-place for The Sewanee Review’s “Corona Correspondences” series.

This ticketed live event, a fundraiser for the Bay Area Book Festival, will take us beyond the headlines and tweets into a raw, cathartic conversation about navigating lockdown, loss, and massive change. In the midst of this strange time, an hour of deep connection can bring hope and courage to us all.

Video and transcript to come.


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