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Acclaimed Foreign-policy Journalist, Stephen Kinzer, Will Discuss His Widely Reviewed Book, “True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain and the Birth of American Empire” on Tuesday, March 14, With an Introduction by WBUR’s OpenSource Radio Host, Christopher Lydon

2017 February 13
by marleen
Stephen Kinzer

Stephen Kinzer

Award-winning foreign-policy journalist and former New York Times bureau chief in multiple locations, Stephen Kinzer, will talk about his new book, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain and the Birth of American Empire, on Tuesday, March 14 at 6:30 PM. In his latest examination of the US role abroad, he reframes a perennial question raging again today: Should the US be an imperialist nation or take care of its own problems first? The author of numerous books about the unintended consequences of American military intervention, Kinzer, a senior fellow in International and Public Affairs at the Watson Institute of Brown University, will be introduced by his admirer and friend, WBUR’s OpenSource radio host,  Christopher Lydon. Lydon interviewed him on the subject on February 7.

Christopher Lydon

Christopher Lydon

Kinzer, a longtime South End resident, has been hosted by the South End Writes series twice before, in 2014 to discuss his acclaimed book, The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles and Their Secret World War and, last year, to talk about his weeks-long trip through Iran, just before the controversial US-Iranian international nuclear agreement was approved.  Kinzer’s 1/22 world affairs column in the Boston Globe will give you a fine introduction to his upcoming talk, as will his January 24 interview with Terry Gross and the February 23 article about True Flag in the New York Review of Books. 

The South End Writes is sponsored by the Friends of the South End Library. All the events are free. Books by the speakers will be available for borrowing, sale and signing by the author. The branch is fully handicapped accessible. We serve refreshments. Seating is limited. Below are listed upcoming authors, whose bios will be more detailed as the date of their talk approaches.

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Gish Jen

Gish Jen

Gish Jen, the acclaimed novelist, will talk about her new book of non-fiction, The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East West Culture Gap. It looks at the different ideas Easterners and Westerners have about self and society and how this “shapes everything from our ideas about copying and talking in class to the difference between Apple and Alibaba.” Her 2013 non-fiction book, Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Interdependent Self, based on the Massey Lectures Jen delivered at Harvard in 2012, also delves into East-West differences, and in particular how they affect art and literature. The novels Typical American, Who Is Irish?, The Love Wife and Mona in the Promised Land and World and Town were widely praised for their often hilarious but also profound and warm descriptions of Chinese-American families adjusting to suburban gjen coverlife, and the racial and religious divides they navigate. A contributor to The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly, Jen’s work has been included in The Best American Short Stories of 1988, 1995 and 2013, as well as The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike. Nominated for a National Book Critics’ Circle Award and an International IMPAC Dublin Book Award, Jen was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. She has been awarded a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study fellowship, and numerous other awards. In 2003, an American Academy of Arts and Letters jury comprised of John Updike, Cynthia Ozick, Don DeLillo, and Joyce Carol Oates granted her a five-year Mildred and Harold Strauss Living award. Tuesday, March 28

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jblumNew York Times bestselling author of Those Who Saved Us, Jenna Blum (with her novella, The Lucky One, part of Grand Central Station, a collection of tales by well-known women writers, all taking place on the same day in Manhattan’s iconic gateway), Tuesday, April 4

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The acclaimed sociologist Sara Lawrence Lightfoot, another MacArthur Genius Fellow gracing the South sllightfootEnd library, who will be the first African American to hold an endowed chair in her name at Harvard University upon her retirement (with her recent Growing Each Other Up: When Our Children Become Our Teachers) Tuesday, April 18

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mkingThe iconic Mel King, former state legislator, school board member, community organizer, writer, poet, and the holder of perhaps the largest memory bank of South End’s turbulent history. Raised in the New York streets part of the South End by immigrant parents from Guyana and Barbados in the 1930s. Former adjunct professor in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and author of Chain of Change: Struggles for Black Community Development and collections of poetry, and founder of the South End’s Technology Center at Tent City. Tuesday, May 23

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Stephanie Schorow, journalist, journalism teacher and author of many popular books about Boston’s sschorowamazing history, including The Crime of the Century: How the Brink’s Robbers Stole Millions and the Hearts of Boston and The Cocoanut Grove Fire. Tuesday, June 13

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You’re Invited to the Annual Meeting of the Friends of the South End Library Tuesday, January 31 at 6:30 PM: Meet Your Neighbors, Participate in the Board’s Election, Get an Update on Programming and Library/Park Renovation, Bring Your Ideas, and Enjoy the Delicious Refreshments

2017 January 30
by marleen

2017 Ann MtgSnow or not, the Annual Meeting of the Friends of the South End Library (FOSEL) will take place tomorrow night, Tuesday, January 31 in the community room of the library. Members of FOSEL will have the chance to elect to a one-year term a slate of candidates that includes current directors Marilyn Davillier, Jeanne Pelletier, and Michelle Laboy; new directors Maura Harrington and Jon Santiago, as well as Kim Clark, a current advisory-board member who has agreed to serve on the voting board. Current officers Marleen Nienhuis (president), Ed Hostetter (clerk) and Barbara Sommerfeld (treasurer) are serving a two-year term to end in 2018. The slate of Advisory Board members includes Adam Castigliani, Susanna Coit, Liane Crawford, Don Haber, Stephen Fox, Jacqueline McRath, Mary Owens, Mari Passananti, Lois Russell, Licia Sky,, Anne Smart and Karen Watson. More detailed bios are available at the meeting.

In addition, there will be updates on our finances, our programs (The South End Writes, Local/Focus, Summer Jazz Concerts and the Play Reading Book Club with Arts/Emerson). Your suggestions and ideas will be warmly received.

The library is fully handicapped accessible. We serve  refreshments. 

 

 

 

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Suspense Writer Wendy Walker Will Be at the SE Library on Tuesday, February 7, to Read from Her Debut Suspense Novel, “All Is Not Forgotten,” a Psychological Drama Exploring the Use of Memory-altering Drugs to Alleviate a Traumatic Experience

2017 January 24
by marleen

wwalker posetWendy Walker’s first suspense novel, All Is Not Forgotten, is set in the small town of Fairview, CT, one of those irresistible locations for writers to explore because it seems perfect but really isn’t. No one better to delve into this than an author who is a suburban dweller with a growing family herself, but who also happens to be a family-law attorney, likely to know more than many of us about some of the real-life complications simmering underneath the real or imagined American suburban dream. As William Landay (Defending Jacob), another  attorney-turned-suspense-author who read for South End Writes in 2014 noted, Walker’s novel displays a polished writing style in a novel that blends suspense and rich family drama, so chances are good you will have an enjoyable few hours with this psychological thriller, wondering whodunnit and why.

The plot revolves around a family with secrets and unresolved tensions that become sharply articulated and inflamed when a crisis  occurs, in this case, an attack on the teenage daughter during one of those parties with too much liquor, testosterone and drugs. She is given a drug to alleviate the trauma, but is left with the anger and despair over the assault that was  not addressed by the memory-altering drug, and of which she can’t remember the facts. Which also prevents the attacker from being found. As the plot twists and turns to an unexpected conclusion, the parents are divided over what matters most, revenge, justice or…staying in tune with country club mores. Walker published two novels with St. Martin’s Press and is currently writing her second thriller. She will be introduced by her colleague an FOSEL advisory-board member, Mari Passananti.

The South End Writes is sponsored by the Friends of the South End Library. All the events are free. Books by the speakers will be available for borrowing, sale and signing by the author. The branch is fully handicapped accessible. We serve refreshments. Seating is limited. Below are listed upcoming authors, whose bios will be more detailed as the dates of the talks approach.

COMING UP NEXT AT THE SOUTH END WRITES:true flag

skinzerLongtime South End resident and veteran foreign-policy journalist Stephen Kinzer has been hosted by the South End Writes series twice before, once to discuss his acclaimed book, The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles and Their Secret World War and, last year, to talk about his weeks-long trip through Iran, just before the controversial international nuclear agreement with the ayatollahs was approved. This time, the former New York Times bureau chief and regular Boston Globe contributor’s new book, The True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain and the Birth of American Empire, reframes the current question about America’s role abroad from the perspective of the same debate that raged here in Boston at the end of the 19th-century, whether to be an imperialist nation or take care of our own problems first.  Kinzer’s 1/22 world affairs column in the Boston Globe will give you a fine introduction to his talk. He will be introduced by his long-time friend and admirer, WBUR’s OpenSource radio host Christopher Lydon.   Tuesday, March 14

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gjen coverGish Jen, the acclaimed author four gish jnovels, a collection of short stories and a volume of lectures describing  the Chinese-American immigrant experience, will talk about her second book of non-fiction, The Girl at the Baggage Claim: Explaining the East West Culture Gap. It looks at the different ideas Easterners and Westerners have about self and society and, according to her Wikipedia entry,  how this “shapes everything from our ideas about copying and talking in class to the difference between Apple and Alibaba.”  Her 2013 non-fiction book, Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Interdependent Self, based on the Massey Lectures Jen delivered at Harvard in 2012, also delves into East-West differences, in particular how they affect art and literature. The novels Typical American, Who Is Irish?, The Love Wife and  Mona in the Promised Land were widely praised for the ir often hilarious but also profound and warm descriptions of Chinese-American families adjusting to suburban life, and the racial and religious divides they navigate. A contributor to The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly, Jen’s work has been included in The Best American Short Stories of 1988, 1995 and 2013, as well as The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike. Nominated for a National Book Critics’ Circle Award and an International IMPAC Dublin Book Award, Jen was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. She has been awarded a Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study fellowship, and numerous other awards. In 2003, an American Academy of Arts and Letters jury comprised of John Updike, Cynthia Ozick, Don DeLillo, and Joyce Carol Oates granted her a five-year Mildred and Harold Strauss Living award.  Tuesday, March 28

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jblumNew York Times bestselling author of Those Who Saved Us, Jenna Blum (with her novella, The Lucky One, part of Grand Central Station, a collection of tales by well-known women writers, all taking place on the same day in Manhattan’s iconic gateway), Tuesday, April 4

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sllightfoot

The acclaimed sociologist Sara Lawrence Lightfoot, another MacArthur Genius Fellow gracing the South End library, who will be the first African American to hold an endowed chair in her name at Harvard University upon her retirement (with her recent Growing Each Other Up: When Our Children Become Our Teachers) Tuesday, April 18

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mking

The iconic Mel King, former state legislator, school board member, community organizer, writer, poet, and the holder of perhaps the largest memory bank of South End’s turbulent history. Raised in the New York streets part of the South End by immigrant parents from Guyana and Barbados in the 1930s. Former adjunct professor in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and author of Chain of Change: Struggles for Black Community Development and collections of poetry, and founder of the South End’s Technology Center at Tent City. Tuesday, May 23

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sschorowStephanie Schorow, journalist, journalism teacher and author of many popular books about Boston’s amazing history, including The Crime of the Century: How the Brink’s Robbers Stole Millions and the Hearts of Boston and The Cocoanut Grove Fire. Tuesday, June 13

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The South End Library/ArtsEmerson’s Play-reading Book Group Resumes Saturday, January 28 at 10:30 AM with Unique Access to the Theatre and Viewing of the Acclaimed Play “Beauty Queen of Leenane” on February 8: Free to All

2017 January 24
by marleen
The Beauty Queen of Leenane

The Beauty Queen of Leenane

The Play-reading Book Club sponsored by ArtsEmerson and the South End library will resume this Saturday, January 28, at 10:30 AM at the South End branch when a group of local library patrons and ArtsEmerson organizers will begin to read and discuss the script of award-winning play by Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, Beauty Queen of Leenane.   The Friends of the South End Library (FOSEL) is funding the three-play program, which promotes access to the theatre and community building, free to all. There are five sessions, including attending the play itself on February 8, and a final get-together on February during which the participants share their experiences with friends and family on Thursday, February 16. ( An article by theatre critic Hilton Als about playwright McDonagh and The Beauty Queen of Leenane appears in their week’s The New Yorker.) The first play in the series was Mala, by acclaimed local playwright Melinda Lopez; the final play in the program will be 17 Border Crossings by Thaddeus Phillips, for which the play-reading sessions take place during April; going to the play will be on April 19 at 5:30 PM..

17 Border Crossings

17 Border Crossings

If you would like to participate in the Play-reading Book Club for The Beauty Queen of Leenane starting this Saturday, January 28 at 10:30 AM, please get in touch with Anne Smart at the South End library at 617 536-8241, or by email at asmart@bpl.org. You can also contact Akiba Abaka at ArtsEmerson at 617 824-3071, or by email at akiba@artsemerson.org. Tickets to the play are at a vastly reduced $15. However, if you can’t afford it, the tickets will be complimentary.

 

 

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Celebrated Author Junot Diaz, Drawing a Record Crowd, Praises Libraries, Cajoles the Audience to Become Actively Engaged Citizens, and Reads a Vivid Passage from “Nilda,” a Story in His Latest Collection, “This Is How You Lose Her”

2017 January 23
by marleen
Author Junot Diaz talking about the importance of libraries at the beginning of his talk on January 10/17

Author Junot Diaz talking about the importance of libraries at the beginning of his talk on January 10/17

The audience coming to hear Junot Diaz, the award-winning writer of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Drown and This Is How You Lose Her, had filled every seat 45 minutes before the program started, yet more people kept streaming through the South End library’s Tremont Street doors. The South End Writes author series fielded large crowds before,  (Jack Beattie, Jamaica Kincaid, Chris Kimbal, Police Officer John Sacco, Dennis Lehane, Joanne Chang, Edith Pearlman, Bessel Van Der Kolk and Steve Kurkjian) but this January 10 event felt different. More as if a prophet had arrived who also happened to be a literary icon, someone who might speak to the sense of political  foreboding many in the audience expressed, days removed from a controversial new President’s inauguration. “Are you worried?” asked Diaz, holding a cup of coffee mid-drink, scanning the audience that stood layers deep in the stairwell, moving into the middle of the community room so all could hear him. Many affirmative sounds and groans ensued.

Junot Diaz reading a passage from Nilda, a story in This Is How You Lose Her

Junot Diaz reading a passage from Nilda, a story in This Is How You Lose Her

Before launching into audience existential anxiety, Diaz eloquently expressed his deep gratitude for libraries. “I am a creature of the library,” he said. It gives you access to everything poverty strips you of. Poverty is profoundly undemocratic. It narrows your world. The library’s ethos is fundamentally democratic, fundamentally contemplative, a place that itself is concerned with citizenship and civic good–everything that poverty tends to strip from people’s minds,” he suggested. “I wonder if it had not been for libraries, would there have been anything left from the childhoods some of us have had?” Diaz, who reportedly often walked four miles to his public library to borrow books when he was growing up in a poor immigrant family in New Jersey, emphasized that “we are born in these places and certainly the part of me that led me here to this moment was born in my public library under the tutelage of my librarian.”

Junot Diaz speaking to a long line of admirers

Junot Diaz speaking to a long line of admirers

Introduced by author and poet Pablo Medina (Cubob City Blues), Diaz was described as one of the very few writers who use a particular voice to distinguish themselves from everyone else, much like Mark Twain, Toni Morrison and Faulkner did. “He opened a voice and way of life that had not been explored before and brought Latino life into the mainstream,” Medina said. Diaz, winner of numerous awards and honors including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award and a MacArthur Genius Fellowship, commented that the strange thing about being known as a writer in any way is that you are “standing in for better artists who haven’t been given the acclaim they deserve,” and thanked Medina and his contemporaries for the enormous influence and genius he received from them.

Head librarian Anne Smart and one of her admirers

Head librarian Anne Smart and one of her admirers

Turning back to the moment of political gloom, Diaz asked what people in the audience themselves were doing about it. “I wanna know what are you gonna do,” said Diaz, who is active in the Dominican American community.“I’ve been doing my community work forever. If you feel you’ve been hit by a Mac truck, you can appreciate the life that many of us artists have been reporting, and the diabolical forces in American society that have plagued us and made us miserable for so long.” He said he is “intentionally activist”  and not interested in his work as an artist taking the place of his civic responsibility. “Being an artist doesn’t excuse you from your civic responsibility,“ he said, observing that artists are “more inclined to the febrile excuse of ‘my art is my politics.’ Investment bankers,” he added, “not so much. You see them volunteering in soup kitchens.”

Junot Diaz receives the traditional FOSEL gift of a FOSEL library bag and copies of his event poster

Junot Diaz receives the traditional FOSEL gift of a FOSEL library bag and copies of his event poster designed by Mary Owens

Answering several questions about his writing, Diaz, who is the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at MIT, described himself as a very slow writer, very ‘avoidant,’ ‘wildly rewarded,’ and having come of age reading giants of African-American literature like Alice Walker, Gloria Naylor, Toni Morrison, and Ishmael Reed as well as Sandra Cisneros, Scott Momaday, Oscar Hijuelos, Ralph Ellison, and James Baldwin. Families are great inspiration “for the spectrum of behavior,” he said but cautioned that stories have minds of their own. “You can have wild ideas about stories,” he said, “but the stories themselves have other ideas. They happen at the levels of the unconscious. The story is the boss. It is an enormous amount of work to decipher what the unconscious wants. Every draft brings you closer and closer to the mysterious story. Every version sucks.”

With that, he picked up a copy of This Is How You Lose Her, and read a richly descriptive passage from the story Nilda.  When he was done, he patiently listened to, and talked with, his admirers waiting in a long line to be photographed with him and, with a cursive flair, signed all of their books. Within days, he and four other authors –Zadie Smith, Dave Eggers, Colson Whitehead and Barbara Kingsolver– would have lunch with then-President Obama, who admired them and described the writers as having helped him shape his presidency.

 

 

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