Afternoon Panel, PEN Reading

On Sunday afternoon, I went to the Memoir: Family Matters panel, which featured Diana Abu-Jaber, Karen Stabiner, Michael Datcher, Debra Ginsberg, and Louise Steinman. I confess I rarely read memoirs these days as I’m so pressed for time and want to keep up with fiction, but I went to the panel because I did read an advance review copy of Abu-Jaber’s book The Language of Baklava. It’s about her growing up in upstate New York and in Jordan, experiencing both societies, and about all the conversations that happened at mealtimes, when her father served tasty meals and shared stories with his family. Abu-Jaber and other panelists read from their books and fielded several questions that also seemed to revolve around whether truth was best represented in fiction or memoir.

Later that afternoon, I checked out the PEN/Emerging Voices event and listened to fellows read from their work. I particularly enjoyed Alia Yunis’s story (about an overweight teenager growing up in 1980s Lebanon, who worries about cute boys and calories even as a bomb explodes outside her apartment.) I look forward to reading some of her work in print.