Laurie Halse Anderson, famed author of the New York Times best-seller, “Speak,” and Meg Wolitzer, author of New York Times bestsellers “The Ten Year Nap” and “The Wife” are coming to the downtown Fairfield University bookstore. Both authors will be discussing Anderson’s new memoir, “Shout” and there will also be a signing with both of the authors.
Anderson’s bestseller “Speak” was the inspiration for her new memoir. “Speak” was a semi-autobiographical fiction book about a high school freshman named Melinda who was sexually assaulted at a party. It covers the journey of how she finds the ability to talk about her trauma and how she reclaims her identity.
Anderson’s new book, “Shout,” is a more personal account of her life. She discusses her childhood and the difficult story of how she was sexually assaulted as a child. She also talks about how she became an activist against rape culture through her experience with writing “Speak” and getting help for the traumas that haunted her for years.
Although “Speak,” published in 1999, became a New York Times bestseller, and an important story to tell in contemporary times, it of course received backlash for the difficult topics of sexual assault and its aftermath that it discusses. Anderson expects a similar reaction to “Shout”, but hopes that because of the relevancy of the topics she discusses there is a more open response.
“I think we have a generation of parents that are probably a little more open to recognizing their responsibility about talking openly and consistently about things like consent and body.” Anderson said, “but we’re also seeing a lot of backlash like in the #MeToo movement with people not believing survivors.”
The book strikes a balance between prose and poetry. Her style is clear and poignant, and her story is powerful. Not only does she talk about difficult, raw topics, but she does it in a way where it also flows in a seamless, beautiful way.
“The English language is such a powerful song, and just finding those key phrases and words, you get to concentrate language.” Anderson said, “What it creates for the reader is these breaths, these interstitial spaces in between the words where the reader gets to breathe and you don’t have that in chapter breaks.”
Anderson and Wolitzer’s conversation is expected to be both moving and inspiring. It’s definitely a must-see whether or not you’ve read either author’s books. Their conversation will be relevant to issues and movements that surround “Shout” and “Speak” like rape culture, societal norms and pressures, and the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements.
“We have a responsibility as a culture to come to some common understanding for what consent is,” Anderson said. “If we don’t have conversations about it, we can’t make it better.”
Anderson and Wolitzer will be at the Fairfield University bookstore on Monday, March 11 at 7 pm. Tickets are $5 for students and are available on the bookstore website.