LITERATURE

Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19

Central Ave. Sept. 2020. 288p. ed. by ed. by Jennifer Haupt. ISBN 9781771682282. pap. $16.99. LIT
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As the COVID-19 pandemic rages worldwide, writers are speaking out about its impact. Benefiting independent booksellers, with profits going to the Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc), this anthology explores the pandemic experiences of 90 writers, providing a guide for negotiating the fear, isolation, grief, and exhaustion of this difficult time. Compiled by novelist and journalist Haupt (In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills), these poems, essays, and interviews by literary notables such as Kwame ­Alexander, Nikki Giovanni, Dani Shapiro, and Lidia Yuknavitch, along with those by lesser-known authors Eson Kim and Rebecca ­Mabanglo-Mayor, capture the pain everyone is experiencing. Yet underneath the devastation lies a current of inter­connectedness and hope. In a time when even getting out of bed takes a conscious effort, positive messages can be transformative. For instance, Jennifer Rosner’s essay Recipe for Connection tells of a 90-year-old mother and her daughter who talk nightly on the phone about what they will cook for dinner and look forward to when they can eat together again. Elsewhere, the experience of delivering provisions from a food bank, with its fleeting personal connections, brings comfort in the knowledge that one has helped, even if in a small way.
VERDICT Among the first anthologies of its kind, this thoughtful and engaging compilation is recommended for readers seeking understanding and connection and a more empathetic and less materialistic post–­COVID-19 world.

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