Friday, December 14, 2018

Book Your Stocking with Rajia Hassib

Book Your Stocking 2018

Book Your Stocking: December 14

Welcome to Book Your Stocking, an annual reading recommendation series in which writers and readers share the books they'd most love to discover in their stockings, or sock drawers, or doormats this year--whether that's a book they've read, want to read, or wish would exist. 

Please welcome novelist Rajia Hassib for sharing today's bok-wish.  


Create Dangerously by Edwidge Danticat
Edwidge Danticat has always been one of my favorite authors. She writes with a tender authority, with compassion and yet with the severity of a truth well drawn, and she masterfully manages to present characters living in a different country and representing a different culture as ones as familiar to us as family—and isn’t that the dream of every minority writer? But I only recently stumbled upon her collection of essays, Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work, and I found that it was one of those rare books that I read and felt as if I was the ideal audience for it: a book about writing as an immigrant, about being an immigrant and an artist, about the ties that bind readers and writers of totally different backgrounds. 

In the book’s titular first chapter, Danticat writes: “Create dangerously, for people who read dangerously. This is what I’ve always thought it meant to be a writer. Writing, knowing in part that no matter how trivial your words may seem, someday, somewhere, someone may risk his or her life to read them.” It’s a reminder of the freedom we take for granted, of the people all around the world who are still persecuted and murdered for attempting to speak their minds, of how writing and reading are often acts of challenging authority, of exhibiting “disobedience to a directive,” and of how, all around the world, peoples still do it all the same. Recent reality is a reminder that such risks are still present, often closer to home than we like to admit. Jamal Khashoggi would agree, I think. 

Those essays remind me of how important writing is, challenge me to reconsider my identity and how I’m presenting it, and that assure me that we should all be passionate about reading and writing while also challenging me to do better. I love all of Danticat’s work, but these essays have a special place in my heart. 


About today's reader:

Rajia Hassib, photo by The Oberports
Rajia Hassib was born and raised in Egypt and moved to the United States when she was twenty-three. Her first novel, In the Language of Miracles, was a New York Times Editor's Choice and received an honorable mention from the Arab American Book Award. Her second novel, A Pure Heart, is forthcoming from Viking (Penguin) in August of 2019. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Marshall University, and she has written for The New York Times Book Review and The New Yorker online. She lives in West Virginia with her husband and two children. Learn more at


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