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new england literary news | Nina MacLaughlin

Writers, activists plan literary protest before inauguration day

Artist Pablo Helguera brings his itinerant Spanish language bookstore Librería Donceles to Jamaica Plain
Artist Pablo Helguera brings his itinerant Spanish language bookstore Librería Donceles to Jamaica PlainKent Fine Art

Writers Resist

Writers and activists will gather in more than 50 cities on three continents for what’s being termed “a counter-inaugural demonstration” on Jan. 15, days before Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as president on Jan. 20. The Writers Resist readings to promote free expression and social-justice issues were spearheaded by poet Erin Belieu, who teaches in Lesley’s MFA program, and has provoked an eager response around the country. “People are hungry to have some sense of community and unity around a set of values that they’re not hearing articulated in public discourse right now,” says Daniel Pritchard, who’s helping to organize the Boston event. “Individual expression is the very heart of democracy, and we want to articulate a new vision.”


Locally, the literary and social justice organizations involved include PEN New England, AGNI, Harvard Book Store, Center for Arabic Culture, Grub Street, the City of Boston’s Office for New Bostonians, and Boston Review. Writers and participants include Laura van den Berg, Danielle Legros Georges, Jabari Asim, Rob Arnold, Paul Yoon, Pablo Medina, Chris Cooper, Giles Lee, Alma Richeh, among others. The free reading will take place in the Rabb Auditorium at the Boston Public Library from 1:30 to 4:30 pm.

Spanish bookstore arrives

After English, Spanish is the most commonly spoken language in Greater Boston, yet the city lacks a bookstore dedicated to Spanish-language books. That changes from Jan. 13-March 31 as artist and educator Pablo Helguera brings his itinerant bookstore installation Librería Donceles to Urbano Project in Jamaica Plain. Librería Donceles, named after the famed street in Mexico City lined with book stalls, involves over 10,000 used volumes; all of them are pay-as-you-wish, and the money will be steered towards Urbano’s programs in art and social justice. Helguera began the project in 2013, wanting to bring attention to the lack of books for the nation’s growing Spanish-speaking population. Boston is the last stop on its tour. An reception will be held Jan. 13 from 6:30-8:30 pm at Urbano’s gallery space, 29 Germania St., in Jamaica Plain.


Public Market releases first cookbook

Boston Public Market year-round teems with all manner of New England bounty — from local farms and artisans come fresh basil, soft peaches, flowers, cheeses, meats and bread, all shifting with the seasons. The market has just released its first cookbook, highlighting the agricultural landscape of New England. “Boston Public Market Seasonal Cookbook’’ is divided by seasons and filled with elegant drawings and lush photographs that capture the color and texture of what’s available in the region.

Coming out

“The Bear and the Nightingale’’ by Katherine Arden (Del Rey)

“Doctorow: Collected Stories’’ by E.L. Doctorow (Random House)

“The Genius of Judaism’’ by Bernard-Henri Lévy (Random House)

Pick of the week

Tim Linder at the Spirit of ’76 Bookstore in Marblehead recommends “The Historian’’ by Elizabeth Kostova (Back Bay): “Part supernatural mystery, part beautifully written travelogue. Join three generations of historians as they journey from the halls of Harvard to Istanbul and across Eastern Europe to unlock the secret of an enigmatic book and of history’s most deadly question: what if Vlad Tepes, the real-life Dracula, was actually a vampire?”

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