In partnership with Restless Books, a panel of authors and artists shared their perspectives on our changing reality from outside the mainstream pipeline of news and noise. Their conversation was moderated by Ilan Stavans.
In April, as the virus surged, Restless Books asked seventy writers and translators from thirty-four countries and every inhabited continent to send essays, fiction, poetry, drawings, and other artistic responses to the pandemic. The ensuing anthology, And We Came Outside and Saw the Stars Again, is a rich, eye-opening, and truly global portrait of how lives are changing in places as diverse as Palestine, Mauritius, Mexico, Russia, Spain, India, Lebanon, and Taiwan.
Our literary culture depends on bookstores—and those irreplaceable sources of conversation and community, of inspiration and solace, have been decimated by the lockdown. Net proceeds from And We Came Outside and Saw the Stars Again will go to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, which helps the passionate booksellers we readers depend upon.
And We Came Outside and Saw the Stars Again
By Ilan Stavans (Editor)
Published by Restless Books
As our world is transformed by the coronavirus pandemic, writers offer a powerful antidote to the fearful confines of isolation: a window onto lives and corners of the world beyond our own. In Mauritius, a journalist contends with denialism and mourns the last days of summer, lost to the lockdown. In Paris, a writer struggles to protect his young son from fear. In Chile, protesters who prevailed against tear gas and rubber bullets are now halted by a virus. In Queens, after thirteen-hour shifts in the ER, a doctor dons running shoes and makes the long jog home.
And We Came Outside and Saw the Stars Again takes its title from the last line of Dante’s Inferno, when the poet and his guide emerge from hell to once again behold the beauty of the heavens. In that spirit, the stories, essays, poems, and artwork in this collection—from beloved authors including Jhumpa Lahiri, Mario Vargas Llosa, Eavan Boland, Daniel Alarcón, Jon Lee Anderson, Rivka Galchen, Claire Messud, Ariel Dorfman, and many more—detail the harrowing experiences of life in the pandemic, while pointing toward a less isolated future. Together they comprise a profound global portrait of the defining moment of our time, and send a clarion call for solidarity across borders.