BOOK OF THE MONTH: RADICAL HOPE: LETTERS OF LOVE AND DISSENT IN DANGEROUS TIMES, EDITED BY CAROLINA DE ROBERTIS
All is not lost.
The future remains unwritten.
It is ours to shape.
---Carolina De Robertis
Love not hate makes America great
Fight for Democracy / Fight like a girl
I’m with her & her & her & her & her & her & her & her & her & her
Viva la vulva
We can we will
I have been to the future and
Resist defend love
The seas are rising but so are we
---signs from the Women’s March on DC
The Latina Book Club has chosen RADICAL HOPE, an anthology of letters of “Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times” as its Book of the Month. This anthology, edited by author and activist Carolina De Robertis, is a “Symphony of Voices” of both Latinos and non-Latinos written in letter-essays. The authors are leading novelists, journalists, poets, activists and political thinkers. These brave, bold writers include Junot Diaz, Reyna Grande, Christina Garcia, Aya De Leon, Jewelle Gomez, and Luis Alberto Urrea, as well as Lisa See, Hari Kunzru, Jane Smiley, Celeste Ng, Viet Thanh Nguyen, etc.
Carolina De Robertis got the idea for this anthology following the 2016 election and the wave of fear that swept across our nation following the results. We find it apropos that she wrote the introduction to this anthology on January 16, 2017, as the nation celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. It seems his cry of “Let Freedom Ring” needs to be taken up again, and this anthology does just that.
RADICAL HOPE is a collection of love letters because as De Robertis states: “love is the blending agent that fuses the political and the intimate, providing urgency to one and context to the other.” These love letters are “verbal resistance” to the exposed bigotry rampant in our nation. They are “the affirmation of our voices, of our worth.”
She has divided the anthology into three parts: Roots – letters to our ancestors; Branches – letters to today’s people and communities; and Seeds – letters to the future generations.
These letters speak of fear, despair, rage, danger, but underneath the overall message comes across loud and clear: Yes, these are dangerous times. Yes, there is much to fear, but All is not lost. Yes, the future remains unwritten, and Yes, it is ours to shape. De Robertis says it best:
We are the majority, the future is ours, and we are in this together.
“We are in this together,” a sentiment that Junot Diaz echoes in his letter to his hermana of the heart, Q. It is Diaz’ love letter that gives the anthology its name – Radical Hope. He urges his sister—and all of us!—to face this “hard new world” and to cultivate radical hope. “Radical hope is our best weapon against despair, even when despair seems justifiable; it makes the survival of the end of your world possible…and (Diaz) believes it will help us create a better, more loving future.”
Aya De León’s “Dear Millennials” Letter is brutally honest: “We—as older generations—are anxious and depressed as hell. We’re numb, isolated. We’ve gotten used to the lives we settled for. Even though our choices aren’t even available to your generation, still we push these myths as your only options. Your high aspirations scare us and remind us of all the places where we gave up.”
Reyna Grande is more optimistic in her letter to her goddaughter about her determination to push for bridges, and not walls, to be built.
Luis Alberto Urrea wants all of us to realize that there are no Other, there is only Us. He urges all Nasty Women and Bad Hombres to shine, to be the light.
Cristina Garcia writes to her future granddaughter six generations into the future and urges her to sustain the unbroken chain of hope, to live with “grace and dignity and passion—and ensuring these possibilities for all.”
While Meredith Russo asks her two-year old Jewish son in her letter for one promise: “please promise me that you will, insofar as any person can, set your fear aside and devote yourself to a full, honest life. That, my child, is the first and most important act of resistance any of us can undertake.”
RADICAL HOPE is an anthology full of passion and hope. The letters will make readers cry and cheer, and, hopefully!, make readers think and act. Remember, this is our world, our nation, our people, and We Are All In This Together. ###
ABOUT THE EDITOR: Carolina De Robertis, is the award-winning author of the novels THE GODS OF TANGO, PERLA and THE INVISIBLE MOUNTAIN. A longtime activist, De Robertis spent ten years in the nonprofit sector before publishing her first book, and during that time, she led projects concerning issues including women’s rights, immigrant rights, and addressing sexual violence. She teaches creative writing at San Francisco State University. Learn more about her at www.carolinaderobertis.com.
WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
LET FREEDOM RING