Avid readers of all ages attended an awesome evening with author Héctor Tobar at the Susi Q

Avid readers of all ages attended an awesome evening with author Héctor Tobar at the Susi Q earlier this week. Part of the Susi Q’s popular ongoing “Evening with an Author” series, the event attracted more than 75 rapt attendees.

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Photos by Jeff Rovner

Author Héctor Tobar and Moderator Marrie Stone

Tobar’s latest book, Our Migrant Souls: A Meditation on Race and the Meanings and Myths of Latino, was the focus of the presentation, moderated by podcaster and arts columnist Marrie Stone.

“Héctor Tobar was wonderful,” said local jeweler Lorraine Hornby. “He has a fascinating life story. He was eloquent and entertaining and brought a touch of optimism to a subject that is often difficult and contentious.”

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Attendees were treated to a thought-provoking discussion

Barbara McMurray was deeply impressed with Tobar. “That was a juicy discussion! Felt like we could have talked another couple of hours about what it means for a person’s heritage to be described as “mixed” (as almost everyone is, whether we know/acknowledge it or not). Fascinating topic, [and a] wise and interesting author.”

After Tobar made the point that intermarriage among different faiths and ethnicities was becoming increasingly common in the United States, artist Joan Gladstone found herself wondering why, given that reality, we seem to be more and more divided as a country these days.

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(L-R) Susi Q Program/Communications Director, Jo Ann Ekblad; Third Street Writers President Amy Dechary; Moderator Marrie Stone; Author Héctor Tobar and Susi Q Executive Director Nadia Babayi

“As a young Jewish girl, I remember growing up in Brooklyn with Puerto Rican, Chinese and Black kids in my classes. That was normal. It’s disturbing that we seem to be less accepting of each other these days, instead focusing on our differences – mostly superficial ones. I hope that changes. I was glad to hear that Héctor is optimistic,” said Jan Gladstone.

Tobar emailed the Susi Q how impressed he was with everyone associated with the event.

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(L-R) Ann Quilter, Héctor Tobar and Chris Quilter

“Thank you to everyone involved in bringing me out to Laguna last night. It was, without a doubt, one of the highlights of my book rollout. Thank you for the respect shown to me and to my work, and for the warmth with which you welcomed me,” said Tobar.

The redoubtable Chris Quilter noted: “Marrie – who rocks it – and her posse have made this program a wonderful addition to the Susi Q’s programming. We get to meet people like Héctor Tobar, who has the gift of linking his individual journey with the challenges that can uplift – or bedevil – all of us.”

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Tobar signs a book for one of his fans

The “posse” includes the triumvirate of Stone, Amy Dechary (president of Third Street Writers) and Lynette Brasfield (publicity consultant), as well as Jo Ann Ekblad, whose remarkable organizing skills and hard work ensure that Susi Q’s programs run smoothly and are well attended.

Nadia Babayi, executive director of the Susi Q, said she couldn’t be prouder of the team responsible for putting together these exciting evenings. “This series has been a dream of mine. I’m so thrilled at the success of each of the four events we’ve held so far. I’m looking forward to the next two scheduled for 2024.”

Make a note on your calendar for upcoming “Evening with an Author” events:

Monday, June 3: Michelle Huneven

From critically acclaimed, award-winning author Michelle Huneven, a sharp and funny novel of a congregational search committee, told as a memoir with recipes. Search is a wry and wise tale that will speak to anyone who has ever gone searching.

Monday, Oct. 7: Jonathan Lethem

Lethem proves again why he is a master of the form. From the bestselling and award-winning author of The Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn comes a sweeping story of community, crime, and gentrification, tracing more than 50 years of life in one Brooklyn neighborhood.

The Susi Q, located at 380 Third Street, offers a wide range of educational and fun programs, classes and clubs for older adults – though all ages are welcome. The Susi Q’s Care Management Department provides free consultation, education and practical resources for vulnerable seniors through their Lifelong Laguna (Aging-in-Place) program, enabling them to stay safe, informed and independent.

For more information on The Susi Q, the portal to access the best of Laguna’s community resources, visit www.thesusiq.org. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to sign up for Living It Up, a monthly newsletter that will keep you informed about all the exciting events and programs offered by the Susi Q.

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