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november, 2022

02novwedAnna Badkhen – Bright Unbearable Reality7:00 pm - 8:00 pm Event Type :Book Presentation

Event Details

Bright Unbearable Reality – Anna Badkhen

New York Review of Books – 2022

Please join us for a very special evening with beloved author and old friend, Anna Badkhen, for the launch of her new books of essays Bright Unbearable Reality.

Anna Badkhen is an artful prose stylist who can handle heavy issues with a light touch. Badkhen has at her command not only a rich range of reference and historical knowledge—in one essay, a sign by an Ethiopian café prompts a philological reflection on the word “map”; in another, flying on a plane prompts Auden-inflected insights on distance and representation—but also a wealth of personal experience. Bright Unbearable Reality—which takes its title from the Greek word enargeia, literally the appearance of the gods in their true form, as translated by the poet Alice Oswald—spans four continents and concerns itself with polarities of communion and displacement. Badkhen, a former war reporter who has written books about small communities in Afghanistan and West Africa, sees in these disparate locales a common theme: dislocation, be it physical or psychological. She turns to the past, to archaeology, anthropology, zoology, history, mythology, and every other discipline available to explain the crisis of the present. To think deeply without being ponderous, to remember history without losing track of the present—these are Badkhen’s goals.

The eleven timely essays that constitute Bright Unbearable Reality include an examination of the cradle of humanity—the Grift Rift Valley—that becomes a comparative study of modern and ancient dispersal, interrupted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic; a reflection on Ancient Greece and our need for certainty at a time of racist violence, political upheaval, and environmental cataclysm; and multiple essays on the relationship between physical distance, understanding, and engagement. Badkhen seeks to find a way in which we can all gaze toward the future in a depraved present, and look at, and care for, one another in an atomized world.

Anna Badkhen was born in the Soviet Union and is now an American citizen. She is the author of six previous books of nonfiction. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Barry Lopez Visiting Writer in Ethics and Community Fellowship, and a Joel R. Seldin Award from Psychologists for Social Responsibility for writing about civilians in war zones.

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