Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times

Edited by Carolina De Robertis. Vintage, $15.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-525-43513-6
Shortly after the election of Donald Trump, novelist and activist De Robertis (The Gods of Tango) invited fellow writers equally dismayed by this outcome to offer hope to Trump opponents through a venerable literary format: the epistolary essay. Naming Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” as a notable example of the genre, she calls the book’s 31 selections “love letters in response to these political times.” De Robertis’s contributors, who include Jeff Chang, Junot Díaz, Claire Messud, and Celeste Ng, replied to her call with diverse, eloquent, and unapologetic pieces that speak to the heart and underline the sentiment that the personal is political. They contexualize the changes in today’s society by looking backward to famous ancestors and forward to grandchildren. The letters are addressed to the authors’ peers, the protesters at Standing Rock Indian Reservation, strangers in the grocery store, feminists met once on a Cairo sidewalk, and, perhaps most movingly, the beloved children who will inherit the results of adults’ choices. The overall message is one of radical connection and thoughtful activism. This collection is a plea to defy the idea that positive change is impossible. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/24/2017
Release date: 05/02/2017
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