new england literary news | nina maclaughlin

Stories of migration; damage from fire closes Trident

The floor at Trident Booksellers and Café on Newbury Street was covered in water after a fire triggered the sprinkler system.
The floor at Trident Booksellers and Café on Newbury Street was covered in water after a fire triggered the sprinkler system.

Transnational Literature Series launches

On a spinning rack next to the best-sellers case at Brookline Booksmith, there’s a special section of about 30 books that center around migration and displacement. You’ll find Paul Yoon’s The Snow Hunters,’’ Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World,’’ and Gary Snyder’s The Practice of the Wild,’’ among others.

The section is curated by Shuchi Saraswat, a writer and buyer at the Booksmith, who’s long been drawn to books about migration and cites a quote from author Mohsin Hamid that’s guided her, particularly this last year: “People are going to move in vast numbers in the coming decades and centuries. Sea levels will rise; weather patterns will change; and billions will move. We need to figure out how to build a vision for this coming reality that isn’t a disaster, that is humane and even inspiring.” Saraswat is now expanding the section of books to a reading series.

The Transnational Literature Series will bring together authors from around the nation and the world to talk about migration, movement, displacement, and home. The series, which aims to have six events through the end of the year, launches with Jenny Erpenbeck in conversation with Claire Messud discussing Erpenbeck’s Go, Went, Gone’’ on March 6 at 7 p.m. at the Coolidge Corner Public Library. The next event is on April 17 at the Booksmith with Négar Djavadi discussing Disoriental.’’

Damage due to fire closes Trident Booksellers


One of the city’s liveliest literary establishments, Trident Booksellers and Café on Newbury Street, will be closed until further notice after a fire late Wednesday night. Courtney Flynn, bookstore manager, said that the fire broke out in the dry storage area on the second floor about 11:45 p.m. Everyone in the store was evacuated, and firefighters responded quickly to the scene. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, she said. Most of the damage was caused by water from the sprinkler systems. “The water was ankle deep on both floors,” Flynn says. “We have a lot of stuff to face,” she says, “but there are so many things to be thankful for — the firemen came so quickly; the sprinklers did their job; there were people here who could respond quickly. Now we just have to see what shape the store is in, and see what we can save.” Besides serving as a bookstore, the cafe at Trident serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and the Back Bay store, which was been open since 1984, hosts events virtually every weekday evening.

Pannell Award nominees

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The Women’s National Book Association, founded in 1917 to promote “the role of women in the community of the book,” recently announced its nominees for the prestigious Pannell Award, which goes each year to one general bookstore and one bookstore that specializes in children’s books, celebrating the stores that enhance a community’s love of reading. Newtonville Books, in Newton, and Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, N.H., were among 13 stores nominated in the general category. In the children’s category, Blue Bunny Books and Toys in Dedham was one of 14 nominees. Winners will be announced on June 1 and will receive $1,000.

Coming out

The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives’’edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Abrams)

La Bastarda’’by Trifonia Melibea Obono, translated from the Spanish by Lawrence Schimel (Feminist)

DiVida’’ by Monica A. Hand (Alice James)

Pick of the Week


Lisa Sullivan of Bartleby’s Books in Wilmington, Vt., recommends We Are Called To Rise’’ by Laura McBridge (Simon & Schuster): “Told in multiple voices, this story stays with you. It tells the stories of soldiers, children, and behind-the-glitz Las Vegas.”

Nina MacLaughlin is the author of “Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter.” She can be reached at