Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times

I was attracted to Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times because of the outstanding contributors, including Junot Díaz, Lisa See, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Jane Smiley, and Celeste Ng. A firm believer that writers are the key to maintaining society's highest aspirations, I hoped to find inspiration and affirmation in these pages.

The letters are written to leaders of the past, to real and and to imagined future children, to strangers and to the known. Each contributor speaks of their personal journey and agony. They share a fear of our government's agenda that threatens hard-won rights and protections.

The letters are divided into three sections: Roots, which "explores the histories that bring us to this moment," and Branches, considering present day people and communities, and Seeds, considering the future who will inherit the system and world we will leave behind.

Frankly, many of these letters were hard to read, confronting us with the pain and misery inflicted upon people because of their color, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. I could only read an essay or two a day. Yet there is also in these letters a strength, a commitment, a vision of hope.

The message, says Katie Kitamura, is that this is not a time for complacency, and yet we must be open and not mired in certitude, to think and not be compelled to "ideological haste."

"Beware easy answers," warns Boris Fishman, "Lets get out of our comfort zones...let's lose our certainty--perhaps our arrogance."

"Be kind, be curious, be helpful...stay open," Celeste Ng writes to her child.
"Please promise me that you will, insoar 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," advises Meredith Russo to her child.

The struggle for human rights is ongoing, continual. We have seen the backlash against hard gained protections and equality. The battle continues.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Radical Hope
Edited by Carolina De Robertis
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
May 2 2017 publication
$15.95 Paperback
ISBN: 9780525435136