Susi Q’s Evening with an Author to feature Pulitzer Prize winner Héctor Tobar

Susi Q’s next Evening with An Author will feature Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and novelist Héctor Tobar, the author of six books, most recently Our Migrant Souls: A Meditation on Race and the Meanings and Myths of Latino, published by MCD/Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

The New York Times calls Our Migrant Souls, “a resonant and deeply affecting book.” In the best-selling book, Guatemalan-born Tobar, who is a professor of English and Chicano/Latino Studies at UCI, explores what it means to be “Latino” in the United States in 2024. His talk and the resulting discussion should prove lively and informative.

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Photos courtesy of Susi Q

Héctor Tobar

Susi Q asked Marrie Stone, who will be in conversation with Tobar on the evening of February 13, to share with us why he is a perfect choice for this forum.

SQ: What made Tobar a logical choice for the Susi Q event?

MS: The superficial answer is that we were looking for more inclusivity both on stage and, by extension, in our audience. We hadn’t yet invited a man, nor really an author of color (although Lisa See does come from Chinese heritage). We also hadn’t incorporated any nonfiction into the series. Héctor Tobar gave us an opportunity to widen our scope in a variety of ways.

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Tobar will be in conversation with Marrie Stone on February 13 discussing his new book “Our Migrant Souls”

The deeper answer is my hope to bring some nuanced and perhaps difficult conversations about race and culture to our community. We’re living through dark times, and 2024 is poised to be another difficult year. What gives me hope, and the only path I can see through this mess, is making authentic human connections and having meaningful conversations about race, class and the “great American experiment.” Fear of the other is tearing us apart. Stepping inside someone else’s story is imperative. I hope this evening with Héctor inspires some of those things.

SQ: Tobar has written the definitive book on the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners [Deep Down Dark] who were trapped for nine weeks below ground. What are you most curious to find out from Tobar about his interactions with the miners?

MS: What’s interesting about that story are the larger lessons we all might learn about how to work together when things are falling apart. It’s a sensational story, but I think it has larger implications about valuing the collective over the individual, protecting each other’s private stories and making personal sacrifices for the greater good. Those are lessons we could all use right now. So, I’m curious about the larger philosophical things Hector took away from this story, and now that he’s been away from it for a few years, what still resonates with him today.

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(L-R) Author Lisa See during the September 2023, “Evening with an Author,” with Marrie Stone

SQ: Tobar’s most recent book, Our Migrant Souls, explores what it means to be “Latino” in the United States at this time. Do you think it’s possible to explore this with Tobar without addressing the political divisiveness on immigration that roils our country?

MS: The short answer is I don’t know. But not knowing is also the genuine delight I get from this series. I never know. The conversations aren’t scripted or rehearsed. They’re organic and authentic and they go wherever they go, which is never planned.

We shouldn’t fear tough conversations. I’m not setting out to be deliberately political or controversial. I see both sides of this complicated issue. But if we can’t grapple with hard issues in open ways, we’re doomed. I know Héctor will bring sensitivity, nuance and a unique lens to the Latino experience. His experiences are wholly different from my own (and most of our audience). I can’t wait to hear what he has to say.

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Tobar is the author of six books

Susi Q’s Evening with an Author takes place on Tuesday, Feb. 13. The evening will start with mingling, snacks and wine at 4:30 p.m. The program begins at 5 and ends at 7 p.m. with book signings. Cost is $40, which includes a copy of Tobar’s most recent book, Our Migrant Souls.

Register online for the event at www.thesusiq.org. To RSVP by phone, call 949.715.8105, or email christineb@thesusiq.org. The Susi Q Center is located at 380 Third St., Laguna Beach.

The Susi Q 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, 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.



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