A multicultural anthology, edited by Susan O’Connor and Annick Smith, about the enduring importance and shifting associations of the hearth in our world.
A hearth is many things: a place for solitude; a source of identity; something we make and share with others; a history of ourselves and our homes. It is the fixed center we return to. It is just as intrinsically portable. It is, in short, the perfect metaphor for what we seek in these complex and contradictory times—set in flux by climate change, mass immigration, the refugee crisis, and the dislocating effects of technology.
Featuring original contributions from some of our most cherished voices—including Terry Tempest Williams, Bill McKibben, Pico Iyer, Natasha Trethewey, Luis Alberto Urrea, and Chigozie Obioma—Hearth suggests that empathy and storytelling hold the power to unite us when we have wandered alone for too long. This is an essential anthology that challenges us to redefine home and hearth: as a place to welcome strangers, to be generous, to care for the world beyond one’s own experience.
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Praise and Prizes
“The wisdom, compassion, and humanity in these pages are powerful medicine for our time. It’s not necessary to begin at the beginning, but I did. I started with W. S. Merwin’s beautiful poem and the rest of the essays seeped in where Merwin made his skillful soul-opening into my heart. By the time I put this gorgeous collection of writing down, I was flooded with both the balm of compassion and instructions for how to go forward, both.”
“Some of my favorite people on Earth are in this book, dear writers and grand spirits at whose hearths I long to sit. And there are writers who are new to me, fascinating people whose lives vivify how very much about human existence still remains to be learned.”
“The first hearth, I suppose, before humans controlled fire, was the body heat of a she-wolf or a bear, curled in her den, offering nurture to shivering pups or cubs. These fine writers take it from there. Wolves don’t need fire, as Barry Lopez notes in his introduction. But they and we all need something like it—a focus, a refuge, a source.”