Please join us for an exciting evening with writers Tom Piazza and Jonathan Santlofer featuring an extraordinary original collection, IT OCCURS TO ME THAT I AM AMERICA: New Stories and Art - including fiction from more than thirty-five of today’s most celebrated authors writing about the American experience and the fundamental ideals of a free, just, and compassionate democracy.
Bestselling author Jonathan Santlofer edited the book. Besides Tom Piazza, contributing writers include Michael Cunningham, Louise Erdrich, Alice Walker, Neil Gaiman, Ha Jin, Richard Russo, Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Mary Higgins Clark, Julia Alvarez, Walter Mosley, Alice Hoffman, Paul Theroux, Stephen L. Carter, and others. IT OCCURS TO ME THAT I AM AMERICA also incorporates original, striking art from fourteen of the country’s most acclaimed artists, cartoonists, and graphic novelists from Art Spiegelman and Roz Chast to Marilyn Minter and Eric Fischl.
The book has been published in support of the American Civil Liberties Union upon the one-year anniversary of the Inauguration of President Trump and the Women’s March on Washington. The contributors have are donating all of their royalties from the book to the ACLU.
“As I remembered this presidential election, what became clear to me was that the contest for our American identity wasn’t strictly a political affair,” writes Pulitzer Prize-winner Viet Thanh Nguyen in the book’s introduction. “It is also a matter of storytelling. The struggle over the direction of our country is also a fight over whose words will win and whose images will ignite the collective imagination.” IT OCCURS TO ME THAT I AM AMERICA is an effort to take back the narrative of what it means to be an American in the 21st century.
“The genesis of this book came shortly after the 2016 presidential election,” said Jonathan Santlofer. “I presented the idea to Touchstone's David Falk, who has championed it since the beginning. IT OCCURS TO ME THAT I AM AMERICA aims to address the anxiety many Americans are feeling about losing the freedoms for which we’ve fought; to remind us of America as an international symbol of hope; and considers the most basic notion of all: what it means to be American.”
David Faulk, Vice President & Associate Publisher at Touchstone, will also be at the Octavia Books event.
“I am grateful for the time and creative work Jonathan Santlofer and all the contributors have devoted to this project in support of the ACLU,” said Falk. “During this period of political and cultural uncertainty, the goal was to provide a podium and canvas for the contributors to be heard and seen. The result is a one-of-a-kind collection that boldly declares who we are as Americans, representing the diverse voices that weave the rich fabric of our democracy. Our hope is to demonstrate how the power of fiction and art can open minds and create much-needed discourse.”
Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU said, “We are both thrilled and humbled to see that so many great writers and artists have come together to support the ACLU with the publication of It Occurs to Me That I Am America—as we confront the greatest civil liberties crisis of our time. History has shown the crucial role artists play in challenging injustice during times of crisis. This anthology promises to be both a powerful tool in the fight to uphold our values and a tribute to the remarkable voices behind it.”
Tom Piazza is celebrated both as a novelist and as a writer on American music. His twelve books include the novels A Free State and City Of Refuge, the post-Katrina manifesto Why New Orleans Matters, and the essay collection Devil Sent The Rain: Music and Writing in Desperate America. He was a principal writer for the innovative HBO drama series TREME, and the winner of a Grammy Award for his album notes to Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: A Musical Journey. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Bookforum, The Oxford American, Columbia Journalism Review, and many other periodicals. He lives in New Orleans.
Jonathan Santlofer is a writer and artist. He has published five novels including the The Death Artist, the Nero award winning Anatomy of Fear, and many short stories. He has been editor/contributor of several anthologies as well as the New York Times bestselling serial novel Inherit the Dead. His artwork has been exhibited widely in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and is in such public and private collections as the Art Institute of Chicago, Tokyo’s Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Newark Museum of Art, among many others. Santlofer is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants and serves on the board of Yaddo. His memoir, The Widower’s Notebook, will be published by Penguin Books in July 2018.
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