So You Voted for Trump

Dear Friend,

So you voted for Trump. I know we haven’t spoken in a while, but I’ve been thinking a lot about you. In the last two weeks, for instance, I have read all of the think pieces about you. I listened to all the podcasts. All of them! Oh, you’re right… I didn’t listen to ALL of them. But A LOT. Thanks for keeping me honest, buddy. Some of you were the working class, but some of you were college educated people. Some of you were women! Maybe you thought it was time for a change — two terms of any party typically results in a turnover to a different party. The surrogates say, you took him “seriously but not literally.” Great line, by the way. I feel I should point out that “literally” is one of the most misused words in the English language. And in common parlance, literally has evolved to mean the opposite of literally. I digress, but this used to be the kind of thing that you and I would get a kick out of before we started talking (not to each other, I might add) exclusively about politics.

So I was surprised, to put it mildly, that you had such strong feelings for him. I knew you liked him, but I didn’t think you liked him liked him. I didn’t think you were going to marry him. But let’s move past that, if we can. I will admit that it is hard for me to move past it, but I’m trying. I’m not sure it will ever become normal for me to see you with him; I’m not sure I want it to become normal. For the moment, we can agree to disagree about your decision. You and I will both get to reassess our decisions in four years, which seems long, but is sooner than you think. We are blessed that we live in a democracy, with a constitution that specifies regularly scheduled elections. Sometimes, I really love this country.

The reason I’m writing you today is because I know some of you are my readers. I know this because I’ve met you on the road. Gosh, I went everywhere with The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. I was in many of the states that Trump won, and you were all lovely to me. My point is, statistically speaking, some of you were Trump voters. But we shared values—I know we did!—we believed in bookstores, in reading and the value of empathy, in the importance of early childhood education, in the importance of adoption, in the need for communities to protect their most vulnerable members and to look out for one another. We discussed how we all believed in those things. We had some great discussions, you and I.

Sometimes, you were surprised when you figured out A.J. Fikry was a mixed race character, and you asked me questions about that. Sometimes, you were even surprised when you met me! Because I don’t look like a white person. To put a political spin on it, I look somewhere between Barack Obama and Melania Trump. For the record, I am the daughter of an immigrant from Korea. I am the daughter of a Jewish man whose mother was a school teacher and whose father worked at the Stanley Works factory. I have been mistaken for EVERY race. My joke is that everywhere I go, no one ever knows where I’m from, but they’re sure I’m not from there. I guarantee that my passport is studied longer than yours when I travel. LOL. (But it isn’t really funny!) (But no one uses LOL for things that are actually funny, so it’s fine.) My whole life, people have said, “Hey, are you from America?” and “Do you speak English?” And yes, I was born here and I speak English (and even write it) arguably well. But again, that’s a story for a different day. We’re talking about You.

So you voted for Trump. I guess the reason I’m writing you today is because I want to remind you that you don’t have to agree with everything he says and everything he does. I wanted to remind you that the fact of your vote doesn’t exclude you from participating in protest against Trump when you find areas in which you disagree. Maybe you don’t like his appointments, for instance. Oy. Or maybe you want to participate in the Women’s March on Washington—because you want to remind the president-elect that women’s rights are STILL important to you and that women’s rights are not an issue unique to one party or even one ethos. Or maybe you are troubled by the idea of registering citizens based on religion. Or maybe you want to know more about the conflicts in the President-elect’s business dealings. Also, I wanted to point out to you that although I twice voted for President Barack Obama, I have not agreed with him in every decision he has made in office either. I don’t think President Obama would even expect me to always agree with him. As citizens, we are meant to question our elected officials and to let them know when we disagree. Our county is tough. It can withstand and be improved by our dissent. But you already know this.

Now, I know it’s just a pundit’s line—how you took him “seriously, but not literally.” But it’s a good line, a sticky line, and it has been troubling me. I think once a person has been elected president, it’s only good manners to take them both literally and seriously. The President-Elect has seriously and literally nominated and allied himself with bigots, climate change deniers, and hate-mongers. I know you. And I can’t believe you would approve of that.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Let’s keep in touch,

Gabrielle

Texts with Friends: Tauntauns, Ton-Tons, and The Killing Jar

My friend Jenn has a book out today, and we texted about it.

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Jenn’s new book, The Killing Jar, is out today, and I will be going to her LA book launch at The Last Bookstore this Saturday, if you want to hang out with us.

Notes

1) There is a Ton-Ton on the Jordanian version of Sesame Street (and not the Japanese one). He is the mustard colored one below.

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2) Also, this is my bitmoji:

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Book Recommendations for You

A.J. Fikry does refer to blurbs as the “blood diamonds of publishing,” but nonetheless, here are a few books I’ve enjoyed (and blurbed!) over the past several months.

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My blurb: “The first rule of Dietland is you should definitely talk about Dietland. And I suspect you’ll want to. Gather your book clubs, gather all the Jennifers you know! At first you’ll think you’re reading a familiar story: a woman who works at a women’s magazine tries to lose weight. And then POW! Dietland  lithely moves in ways and to places you won’t expect. Sarai Walker has a wonderfully curious mind, and this is an impressive, ambitious first novel.”

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My blurb: “The Travels of Daniel Ascher is about the power of stories, particularly the ones we tell about ourselves. Within its svelte form, the novel packs in a love story (several actually), a family story, a war story, a mystery, a travelogue, and even a convincingly imagined children’s adventure series. All these strands weave together beautifully in this deftly plotted and deeply moving novel.”

Readers who enjoyed A.J. Fikry will very much respond to this one.

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My blurb: “SAINT MAZIE is a novel with as much style and moxie as its titular character. I missed Mazie Gordon-Phillips and her family when I was finished reading, but I missed New York, too. By telling this one woman’s story, Jami Attenberg has managed to write an ode to New Yorkers of every generation. She is a true poet of the city.”

I loved Jami Attenberg’s The Middlesteins, too.

For Young Adults:

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THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH is a unique love story, and yet, it is also the love story of all humans through time. Martha Brockenbrough is a compassionate observer of many worlds—airfields, jazz clubs, baseball diamonds, newspapers, and Hoovervilles to name a few—and the beautiful, doomed human types that dwell in them. This is an exceptional novel.”

This book is indicated for young adults, but I’m confident adults will enjoy it.

Madeleines & Mandelbrodt

I received an amusing reader letter speculating about the connection between Proust’s madeleine and mandelbrodt.

 Dear Ms. Zevin:  I am enjoying A.J. Fikry enormously. Your mention of Proust raised this memory, and I thought it would interest you.

I bake mandelbrot, which my old Jewish friends from Siberia and Poland tell me is exactly like what their mothers used to bake.  Also a friend XXXX told me they are what her mama in southern Italy made.  NPR reported that the madeleines in Proust’s story were really dried rusk type of cookies.  Not at all like the madeleines that are sold under that title today.  I checked, and learned that Proust’s mother was born Jewish.  Mandelbrot, of course!  If  you would like to have  my great recipe for those cookies, let me know.

Google will not  confirm this for me, but I like the idea that Proust may have been biting into mandelbrodt. Either way, I have requested that the reader send me her recipe. When one is offered a “great recipe,” it is foolish not to accept. 

Also, the paperback version of A.J. Fikry debuted at number nine on the New York Times Best Seller Paperback Trade Fiction list, right between Murakami and E.L. James.

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Win’s Acronym & a Few Notes on My Book Tour

I’ve been on book tour for The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and indeed, I’m still on book tour! Come see me at an event if you have an evening.

Many amazing things have happened to me on this book tour, and when I have a moment to catch my breath, I plan to write about a few of them. I think of the many babies in baskets I have encountered (and the one cat in a basket), the spectacular islands of Washington, the Fikry-reading Sasquatch in Anacortes, etc., etc. I have bought more books than I will be able to read in my lifetime, been stuffed with pie, lefse, cupcakes, Orca-shaped cookies, and love, seen numerous friends, chatted with booksellers of every taste and constitution (quite a few A.J. Fikrys, as is probably to be expected), met readers ranging in age from toddlers to 80+,  and yes, visited twenty or thirty bookstores, each delightful in her own way. (I do not know that I will ever tire of visiting a new bookstore.) And the tour is not quite half finished!

However, the reason I write you tonight is because of an event I did earlier this week at Books Inc. in Alameda, CA. A reader handed me a letter along with a bar of admirably dark chocolate. The letter concerns the Anya Balanchine books, and it answers a question that many of you have been asking me for months (and that I have promised to answer for months): namely, what DOES Win’s acronym mean in In the Age of Love and Chocolate? She was VERY close — all but three words. My corrections are in black ink. 

Interview with me about A.J. Fikry on NPR’s All Things Considered

Audie Cornish interviewed me about The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry for All Things Considered. She is simply a wonderful interviewer and she (and her producer Justine Kenin) could not have been kinder to me or the book. Also over at NPR, they’re asking people to name the three books that define them. You can tweet or tumblr it, using #my3books. Mine are Charlotte’s WebThen We Came to the End, and Song of Solomon. But really, if you asked me on a different day, you’d probably get a different answer.

http://www.npr.org/2014/03/28/294393870/in-storied-life-characters-come-with-a-reading-list

 

A Series of Rather Nice Things

It has been a busy, fun couple of months. I’ve been writing books for a while (10 years since I sold my first novel!) and I’ll tell you, there have been many months in my career that have been less busy and less fun. This is to say, I appreciate the busy, fun times quite a lot.

I went to ABA Winter Institute in January. When I arrived at the Seattle airport, there were posters for The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry in the Hudson Bookstores!

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My publisher Algonquin and Litographs, a company whose products I’ve long admired, made these The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry t-shirts to give to the booksellers at Winter Institute. The entire text of the book is printed on these shirts.

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In February, I went to Toronto for a few prelaunch events for Fikry. The prelaunch party Penguin Canada threw had clever (and tasty) book-themed food.

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For the next week or so, you can listen to an abridged version of A.J. Fikry on the popular BBC 4 program Books at Bedtime. My mom is listening and she says it’s great! Here’s a picture of Frank posing with some of my favorite books for the BBC website.

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Who is Frank? Frank is the rescue pug my guy and I adopted from Pug Nation Los Angeles. He was abandoned near a park. Frank is all about love except for the part of him that is all about breakfast.

Amazingly, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is the #1 Indie Next Pick and the #1 LibraryReads Selection for April 2014. I can’t thank all the booksellers and librarians enough.

And although the book isn’t out until April, quite a few bookstores have put it on their shelves early. The Book Frog of Rolling Hills Estates, California made this display, which features a Tamerlane-reading baby!

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Finally, I’ll be on book tour beginning April 1st. Although AJ Fikry is a book for adults, my YA readers should feel free to come out, too. And please do come! I am not J.K. Rowling level popular (in case you didn’t know!), which means I usually get to truly meet the people who attend my events. Find the schedule here.

Finally, finally, it’s Spring! This is me with my girl, Edie. She came from a wonderful organization called the Mutt Scouts that is dedicated to rescuing mixed breed dogs from shelters. She is a goddess.

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