A diverse group of writers and activists responds to the election of Donald Trump.
The last few months have been a trying time—to say the least—for many Americans, who reacted to the 2016 presidential election with outrage, fear, and, finally, dissent. This new anthology of dissident writers, edited by novelist De Robertis (The Gods of Tango, 2015, etc.), who spent years working for nonprofit organizations, provides some comfort, direction, and inspiration to that large segment of our population. The editor curates a “symphony of voices” of various genders, sexualities, and religions from “communities with roots all over the world.” Contributors include noted authors Junot Díaz, Jane Smiley, Celeste Ng, and Viet Thanh Nguyen as well as writers/activists like Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, and many others. The pieces take the form of love letters because, as the editor explains, “[James] Baldwin showed us that letter-essays, as a form, are perfectly suited to blend incisive political thought with intimate reflections, to fold them into a single embrace.” Some of the letters are written to specific people (the writers’ children or ancestors), while others take a wider view (“Dear Millennials,” Aya de León begins). Many readers will doubtless find solace in the volume, but there is a sort of sameness to the entries, perhaps due to the required form, and a tearfulness to many of them that becomes tiresome. Unfortunately, not all the writers are immune from cliché (“keep your chin up”). However, there are plenty of strong pieces here, particularly from Francisco Goldman and Katie Kitamura. Kitamura describes both the impossibility and the absolute necessity of language in times like these: “I listen, and I read, and I listen, and still I cannot comprehend the world that is being described.” Still, we go on trying. Other contributors include Roxana Robinson, Hari Kunzru, Jane Smiley, and Claire Messud.
A timely but sometimes overly sentimental anthology of dissident voices.