It Occurs to Me That I Am America

Art by contributor Jane Kent, courtesy of Simon and Schuster

“It Occurs to Me That I Am America” is a collaboration of authors and artists born in response to the 2016 election. Two of the book’s contributors, Bliss Broyard and Philip Gourevitch, are Brooklyn residents. They will both be speaking with the book’s editor Jonathan Santlofer, as well as contributors Anna Dunn, Elinor Lipman and Eric Orner on Feb. 5 at Greenlight Bookstore’s Fort Greene location at 686 Fulton St.

In an unprecedented collaborative call to action, New York Times bestselling and award-winning authors and artists teamed up to create “It Occurs to Me That I Am America: New Stories and Art.” Literary and artistic luminaries offer their perspectives on the current American political, social and cultural landscape just in time for the one-year anniversary of the Trump inauguration and the Women’s March.

“If literature is ‘news that stays news,’ how often do we get to see it blaze out like this, as an audacious rebuke to the headlines? These writers will help you feel proud to live in this country again.” — Johnathan Lethem, author of “Motherless Brooklyn,” “A Gambler’s Anatomy” and “The Fortress of Solitude”

When Donald Trump claimed victory last November, the U.S. literary community erupted in shock and indignation. Many of America’s leading writers and artists openly resist the current administration’s dogma and earliest policy moves, and they’re not about to go gentle into that good night. In “It Occurs to Me That I Am America,” more than 50 of the most acclaimed modern writers and artists consider the fundamental ideals of a free, just and compassionate democracy through powerful storytelling and illustration.

As the Trump administration threatens to cut arts funding and vilifies a free press as “fake news,” writers and artists are responding, vowing to defend the most basic principles of freedom and justice for all. This book offers an introspective look at what current social and political issues tell us about ourselves and our country in an effort to take back the narrative of what it means to be American in the 21st century.

“It Occurs To Me That I Am America” features original stories from bestselling and award-winning authors — including 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, and Stephen L. Carter — with an evocative introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen. The collaboration also features striking art by some of today’s best-known artists, cartoonists and graphic novelists who cover political, social and cultural issues, such as Art Spiegelman, Eric Fischl, Roz Chast, Marilyn Minter and Shahzia Sikander. This one-of-a-kind keepsake anthology is a beautiful, enduring collection that will resonate with anyone concerned with what it means to be an American.

“The genesis of this book came shortly after the 2016 presidential election,” Jonathan Santlofer said. “‘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.”

“It Occurs To Me That I Am America” celebrates the undaunted efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union. Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU says, “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.”

“It Occurs To Me That I Am America” declares who we are as Americans, representing the diverse voices that weave the rich fabric of our democracy. It demonstrates how the power of fiction and art can open minds and create much-needed discourse.

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