Greetings! Here in New England, the cold and snow have arrived, just in time for the holidays. (To this native Californian, gaudily decorated palm trees with chili pepper lights evoke the holidays much more than snow.) With or without snow, what else puts you in a holiday mood? For me, it’s books. Holiday roundups of best books of the year, new releases, and the anticipation of hours spent engrossed in a book in front of a fire, a cup of good coffee by my side and a notebook nearby to jot down thoughts.
Two books in particular should be on your list, both by MFA faculty members: Sophfronia Scott’s Unforgivable Love, an ingenious re-telling of the 18th-century French classic Les Liaisons Dangereuses, set during the Harlem Renaissance; and Adam Braver’s The Disappeared, a work of fiction informed by recent history and a deeply thoughtful response to what we do in the face of inexplicable acts of mass violence. Both works showcase the exceptional talent and range of our MFA faculty. And both shed light on the essentials of being human that remain constant despite social and political eras, including our own: love, connection, trust, compassion. These are not “holiday” values. But it’s a good time to be reminded. And a good time to reflect on what we have together as a community, both in our MFA and in the larger literary communities we belong to.
Speaking of literary communities, we are pleased to welcome a new member to our MFA faculty: travel writer Susan Seligson, whose revealing interview with Sandy Chmiel can be found here. After I read it, I took a moment to reflect on the places I’d been that have changed me, altered the direction of my life, taken root in my heart. I think of the beautiful holiday traditions in these countries—Mexico, Israel, Germany, Ireland, Lebanon, Spain—and how our religious and cultural differences are something to celebrate, not fear. The more we travel, via plane or via good book by an international writer, the better we understand the range and depth of our shared humanity. Across the world, we all hope for peace this season.
Wishing you a peaceful holiday season with plenty of great books to read (and chili pepper lights, just because) and see you in the new year.