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NEW ENGLAND LITERARY NEWS

Writers react to the election, a virtual poetry salon, and a picture book about the legend Rita Moreno

A new book by Providence author Anika Aldamuy Denise tells the story of Puerto Rican star Rita Moreno.
A new book by Providence author Anika Aldamuy Denise tells the story of Puerto Rican star Rita Moreno.Leo Espinosa

Writers against Trump

Eleven writers from around the country — including the Boston-based James Carroll, Askold Melnyczuk, and Shuchi Saraswat — came together to form Writers Against Trump, a group working “to oppose the racist, destructive, incompetent, corrupt, and fascist regime of Donald Trump.” Since their start in August, nearly 2000 writers from around the world have joined in their efforts, including Salman Rushdie, Eileen Myles, Ilya Kaminsky, Hari Kunzru, and Rebecca Solnit, among others, and on Thursday, November 5, they’ve organized a number of virtual conversations through independent bookstores around the country asking “What Just Happened?: Writers Discuss the Post-Election Moment.” The Harvard Book Store will host Jim Carroll moderating a conversation with writers and thinkers Stephen Greenblatt, Martha Minow, Timothy Snyder, and Mariama White-Hammond. That conversation takes place at 4:30 pm, and will be followed that evening by a national roundtable discussion with Natasha Trethewey, Rushdie, Solnit, and Paul Auster. For more information visit writersagainsttrump.org.

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Virtual gatherings

Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola is leading a new virtual series that involves poetry readings, open mics, and workshops, centered on the theme of home. The pandemic and the attendant political maelstrom have spurred the questions that will be explored: “What does home mean? What isn’t home? Who is lacking home? Now that we are all home so much, how do we like our homes? . . . Is the body a type of home?” Starting this Friday, and running the first Friday of the month for the the next six months, “HOME” will involve a featured reader and an open mic on Friday nights, followed by a writing workshop the following morning, hosted by Anthony Febo. The opening event, this Friday, November 6 at 7:30 pm features former Boston Poet Laureate Danielle Legros Georges. Featured readers in the months ahead include Xandira Phillips, Chase Berggrun, Rachel McKibbens, Monica Sok, Krysten Hill, Martín Espada, and Rajiv Mohabir. For more information and to register, visit boston.gov/calendar/home-poetry-reading-and-open-mic-series.

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Rita in her youth

A new picture-book biography, “A Girl Named Rosita” (HarperCollins), by acclaimed Rhode Island-based author Anika Aldamuy Denise, tells the story of the Puerto Rican actor, singer, and dancer Rita Moreno, who won an Oscar for her role in “West Side Story.” Born in 1935, “with the rhythm of the rainforest in her feet and the sweetness of the sugarcane fields in her swishing skirts,” Rosita dreams of becoming a star. She moves to New York City as a girl and we see her endure bullying, work to perfect her English, and practice, practice, practice her singing and dancing, rising to become one of the most celebrated performers of her time. Leo Espinosa’s illustrations are lively and animate, showing Rosita’s zest and perseverance. And the book is a positive, compelling look at the only Latinx performer to have earned a Peabody, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award.

Coming Out

My Name Will Grown Wide Like a Treeby Yi Lei, translated from the Chinese by Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf)

Music for the Dead and Resurrectedby Valzhyna Mort (FSG)

The Harpyby Megan Hunter (Grove)

Pick of the Week

Hannah Zimmerman at Trident Booksellers in Boston recommends “The Vegetarian” by Han Kang (Hogarth): “I love everything about this book. Kang’s novel is about a woman, Yeong-hye, who out of nowhere turns vegetarian to the extreme, meaning that she is unable to be anywhere near anything (or anyone) that resembles meat and slowly becomes obsessed with plants. The novel then goes into what that means for her and the people in her life, namely her husband, brother-in-law, and sister. Endlessly intriguing, dark, emotionally charged, and beautifully written, ‘The Vegetarian’ will leave you wanting more.”

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