Freedom: Aminder Dhaliwal, Nathan Harris, Maggie Nelson
Portland Book Festival virtual events, presented by Bank of America, will feature variety-show style interviews. Each night, three authors whose work shares thematic connections will join remotely, and interviewers will be broadcasting live from Portland literary locations. The audience will be tuning in via our custom streaming platform, PDXBookFest.org. Get your virtual festival pass here!
Tuesday night, we’ll be live from Broadway Books with the theme “Freedom.” This evening will feature:
Cartoonist Aminder Dhaliwal in conversation about her graphic novel Cyclopedia Exotica with OPB’s Tiffany Camhi
Debut novelist Nathan Harris discusses The Sweetness of Water with Gabriel Urza
Award-winning essayist, poet, and critic Maggie Nelson in conversation about her new book, On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint, with Masha Gessen (Gessen will be joining remotely)
This year’s VIRTUAL Festival programming is presented by Bank of America. From November 8–12, Portland Book Festival will feature authors in a variety of virtual events, from live-streamed discussions to podcast and radio broadcasts. Access to the Festival’s virtual platform will be via a sliding scale ($0–$100) pass; one pass includes access to all five days of virtual events. Get your pass here.
MORE ABOUT TONIGHT’S AUTHORS AND THEIR BOOKS:
In Aminder Dhaliwal‘s Cyclopedia Exotica, doctor’s office waiting rooms, commercials, dog parks, and dating app screenshots capture the experiences and interior lives of the cyclops community; a largely immigrant population displaying physical differences from the majority. Whether they’re artists, parents, or yoga students, the cyclops have it tough: they face microaggressions and overt xenophobia on a daily basis. However, they are bent on finding love, cultivating community, and navigating life alongside the two-eyed majority with patience and the occasional bout of rage.
Through this parallel universe, Dhaliwal comments on race, difference, beauty, and belonging, touching on all of these issues with her distinctive deadpan humor steeped in millennial references. Cyclopedia Exotica is a triumph of hilarious candor.
“The characters in Dhaliwal’s stories sparkle. They’re tenderly rendered and their problems are real… The struggle of the cyclops unfolds in metaphors for race, sexuality, gender, and disability, tangling with ideas about fetishization, interracial relationships, passing, and representation.” —Carmen Maria Machado, In the Dream House
Nathan Harris’s The Sweetness of Water has been hailed as “a miraculous debut” (Washington Post) and “a towering achievement of imagination” (CBS This Morning)about the unlikely bond between two freedmen who are brothers and the Georgia farmer whose alliance will alter their lives, and his, forever—from “a storyteller with bountiful insight and assurance” (Kirkus). With candor and sympathy, debut novelist Nathan Harris creates an unforgettable cast of characters, depicting Georgia in the violent crucible of Reconstruction. Equal parts beauty and terror, as gripping as it is moving, The Sweetness of Water is an epic whose grandeur locates humanity and love amid the most harrowing circumstances.
“This debut novel astonished us as much for its wise, lyrical voice as for its dense realization of a fictional small town in the American South at a rarely written-about moment, the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. We were incredibly impressed by the way it probes themes of trans-historical importance—about race, sexuality, violence, and grief—through meticulously-drawn characters and a patient examination of their relationships.”—Booker Prize committee
Maggie Nelson’s On Freedom traced the concept’s complexities in four distinct realms: art, sex, drugs, and climate. Drawing on a vast range of material, from critical theory to pop culture to the intimacies and plain exchanges of daily life, Nelson explores how we might think, experience, or talk about freedom in ways responsive to the conditions of our day. Her abiding interest lies in ongoing “practices of freedom” by which we negotiate our interrelation with—indeed, our inseparability from—others, with all the care and constraint that entails, while accepting difference and conflict as integral to our communion.
“[A] sense of optimism sits at the heart of On Freedom. What else is possible? it asks. . . . On Freedom is an argument for how we engage with objects of analysis—and one another—in a way that is principled but not rigid, that displays care for other people’s perceptions, pains and desires, and that has respect for what we cannot know.”—Ismail Muhammad, New York Times Magazine
This year’s VIRTUAL Festival programming is presented by Bank of America. Access to the Festival’s virtual platform will be via a sliding scale ($0–$100) pass; one pass includes access to all five days of virtual events. Get your pass here.
Order Cyclopedia Exotica: annie bloom's | broadway | powell's
Order THE SWEETNESS OF WATER: Annie Bloom's | Broadway | Powell's
Maggie Nelson is the author of several acclaimed books of poetry and prose, most recently On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint (2021). In 2016 she was awarded a MacArthur “genius” Fellowship. She teaches at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles.