In Gaza, Storytelling and Silence

A Mentor Stays Glued to WhatsApp, Awaiting Word from Young Writers

Mustafa was one of the first young writers I mentored through We Are Not Numbers (WANN), a youth-led program based in Gaza that tells the stories behind the numbers in the news, giving voice to Palestinians and advocating for their human rights. Mustafa is a graduate of Al Aqsa University, and he managed a small convenience store to supplement his family’s income.

Two years ago, I worked with him—virtually, from my home in Los Angeles—as he drafted and refined an essay about 13-year-old Muhammad, a familiar figure in his Khan Yunis …

Which of Bluebeard’s Wives Are We? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Which of Bluebeard’s Wives Are We?

A Fairytale for Our Moment Challenges Us to Face Reality—Even If We’d Rather Hide From It

There’s magic in fairy tales, the sort of magic that allows us to make sense of our world thanks to the help of long-dead storytellers. If we listen closely to …

How Early Americans Narrated Disease | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How Early Americans Narrated Disease

This Tradition of Storytelling Around Illness Still Pushes Us to Grieve—And Imagine a Path Forward

In April, as COVID-19 marched wearily into its second year, my mother became suddenly and unnervingly ill. Barely coherent, she was hospitalized.

Only a couple of days earlier she had …

Daniel Boone’s Legend Defines the American Mystique

Why a Contemporary Canadian Author Fell in Love With the Tall Tales of the Famous Frontiersman

I’m not American. My childhood social studies curriculum covered Canada’s geography and indigenous peoples, in French (le Saskatchewan, les Iroquois).

So I didn’t grow up learning about Daniel Boone …

Christmas Is a Subversive Parable

The Tale of Refugees, Infanticide, and the Exaltation of a Humble Child Urges Us to Take Sides

The news out of the Middle East is relentlessly disheartening these days, but the other day I reread this amazing story from a while back about a child in the …