NYC Writers Reading for Peace


By Neal Comment

“A friend emailed me from California: TURN ON CNN. HAIFA IS BEING BOMBED,” recalls author Leora Skolkin-Smith. “From then on, my shock and sickness didn’t come from watching the places I walked as a child burn and explode, but from witnessing the relentless aggression on both sides—the slow and deadly destruction of Beirut, the victims in Lebanon—those faces who were once my family’s best friends.” Skolkin-Smith grew up in Haifa, and many of her members of her family who had lived in Palestine before the creation of Israel had been educated in Lebanon, so the war was intensely upsetting to her. “This is so painful for the generations that know the truth,” she says, “that these countries are divided against one another not from desire or hate, but because of larger forces.”

Resolved to do something to call attention to the problem, Skolkin-Smith got in touch with her friend, fellow writer M.J. Rose, and asked for advice. How could she put together a reading without seeming self-promotional (especially since her novel, Edges, is set in Israel and Palestine)? Rose suggested that none of the authors at the event read from their own work; instead, when the fifteen participants gather at SoHo’s McNally-Robinson bookstore on September 18, they’ll be reading from other people’s writing about war and its consequences. Readers include Robb Forman Dew, Masha Hamilton, and Binnie Kirshenbaum, with organizational help from Grace Paley and Sue O’Doherty. Profits from the evening’s sales, as well as additional donations collected at the event, will benefit Seeds of Peace, a non-profit which helps teenagers who live in conflict zones learn to reconcile with their peers.