Reading Recaps: Olympia and Seattle, Washington

Audience: 40-50 at each location.
Anxiety index: 1 (out of 10).
Surprise guest(s): Several academics.
No. of Moroccans who said hello: 6.

I drove from Portland up to Olympia and then Seattle this weekend under whipping, miserable, constant rain. At one point, my car started to shake and I thought the glass would give in under the weight of the water. But I made it on time and even had time to check email and dry up before my readings.

The Olympia group was made up of very diverse, hard-core readers (my favorite kind) and they seemed thoroughly engaged. Because the room was set up without a podium or mike, it allowed for a very cozy, very intimate discussion of the book. We talked quite extensively about Hope but also about my new novel, which I am desperate to finish soon. And someone asked me about my Nation essay “The Missionary Position”–I’ve noticed there’s always interest about this piece at my recent events. Hmm.

The Seattle reading was at Elliott Bay Book Company, one of my favorite bookstores in the world. (Hi Rick!) Much to my delight, the reading was very well attended. There were three high school exchange students from Morocco who were very excited to be there, and one of them jumped up and shouted “Woo-hoo!!” when she found out I was from Rabat. The discussion was wide-ranging: the process of writing Hope, characters’ choices, favorite writers, language, language teaching, immigration, representations of Islam, the veil as a symbol of identity politics, and even whether you can buy alcohol in Morocco (the answer is yes.)

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