Book raises funds to organization against cancer
Published in this year’s February, the book The Tenants of Building 38: An Anthology is an example of the new ways to engage in solidarity actions. The title transfers integrally its profits to the American Cancer Society (ACS), a voluntary health organization against cancer.
The book assembles 38 stories, which comprise a great variety of literary genres, of the residents of the building. I believe that the intention of the 19 writers was to create a work without restrictions regarding its public, which makes it possible to find narratives covering many distinct themes, from horror to romance.
The group of authors, formed by people from different countries around the World, first met through Facebook and decided, in 2014, to write an anthology (a gathering of short narratives and poems united in the same title) through the work and creativity of each one. Therefore, all the creation process was made long distance, which didn’t hinder the final result.
“All of us were members of this Facebook group and that's how it started. And then when the theme was decided we got to know each other a little better as we started working together. We didn't know each other before we started on this project”, comments Alda Mørkøre Nielsdóttir, 21, Faroese author from one of the book’s stories. As the work took shape, some members of the group started to ‘borrow’ each other’s characters, in order to make the anthology even more dynamic.
In the beginning of the project, the authors hadn’t contacted the ACS, but had already decided that the money raised through the paperback's sales would be transferred to some nonprofit institution. After considering some organizations, the American Cancer Society was chosen almost unanimously, in spite of having nothing to do with the development of the book.
This book was a big surprise to me. I can't say I'm a big fan of anthologies, so, when I was assigned to read and write a review about it, I was curious but not so excited.
As I started reading it, I saw myself deeply involved with many of the authors' stories. I believe that their different writing styles and the great variety of literary genres accomplished its objective of reaching every sort of public.
In the end, I felt that typical "emptiness" when we finish reading, listening to or watching a good piece of work. When I found out that this anthology was meant to raise money for the American Cancer Society, I admired it even more. I can only say “congratulations” to everyone who was part of it: Sophia Olson, Jeffrey Kenworthy, Marie Martinez, Meece Avris, Kelly Prososki, Emmie Engqvist, Alda Mørkøre Nielsdóttir, MaKayla Decker, Keisha Biddle, Gabriela Tinglund, Anna Bridges, Airiel Hawkins, Ashley DeToledo, Laney Smith, Andrea Mujunen, Kitty Limon, Laurie Stacey, Twyla Rose e Andrea M. Mouser.
Anorexia: a complex subject, but very well approached
I believe that Alda Mørkøre Nielsdóttir's "Apartment 419 - Mirror, Mirror" was the highest point in the anthology. Her direct, fluid and yet profound writing really caught my attention. The young Faroese writer manages to bring up a controversial and difficult theme (anorexia) in an almost gentle way. As a journalist who has already written and read about it, I can say it is a complicated subject to work with. I'm looking forward to more stories and (why not?) a new book from this author!
Nielsdóttir agreed to answer a feel questions about her work and the development of The Tenants Of Building 38: An Anthology, which follows:
1- When did you (authors) make all the arrangements to start writing it (the book)? What was the best and what was the most complicated part of this work?
“I think we settled on a theme and setting sometime in the fall last year. The setting was to be an apartment building so we worked out who would write about which apartment. Some of us chose to have multiple apartments. And when one had finished a story one would share it with the rest so they could read it. That way we got to learn who everyone else was writing about and we could write them into our own stories. I'm sure you've noticed how the different characters appear in other stories aside from their own. Anyway all submissions were due by early December so we had a couple of months to write.
As what was the most complicated part of this project I can only speak for myself. I found it difficult to make time for writing because of my studying and I think it was a couple of weeks before the deadline that I actually resigned from the anthology because I kept changing the plot and everything. But after reading an article on eating disorders I was inspired and I was permitted to come back. I think it has been a very difficult, new experience for me because I wasn't used to writing under pressure. When I was just writing for myself I didn't have a deadline.”
2- How did you make this contact with the American Cancer Society? Were they your main supporters?
“At the time we hadn't made any contact with The American Cancer Society as far as I know. We just agreed that the money from the anthology would go to charity and so we voted on a couple of reliable charities and The American Cancer Society won the vote.”
3- About "Apartment 419 - Mirror, Mirror": how did you feel when writing down this story? How did you get your inspiration?
“I had to go through a lot of ideas before I settled on anorexia. I like writing about stuff that is otherwise difficult to talk about. I'm not scared of portraying the ugly truths in everyday life and I know that a lot of young women unfortunately suffer from eating disorders and I wanted to learn more about it so I did a lot of research. I felt an important need to write this story because it was about an issue that needed to be addressed. Apart from that I felt relieved that I had finally found the right thing to write about.”
About the American Cancer Society and other NPO’s against the disease
The American Cancer Society was founded in 1913 by a group of physicians and businessmen in New York City with the name of American Society for the Control of Cancer (ASCC). Nowadays, the organization has more than 900 representative offices in the USA. The actions carried out by the ACS include assistance to the people bearing the disease, helping by telephone through the National Cancer Information Center and investing in research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The Society played an important role in the discovery of the link between smoking and cancer.
The organization is financed by spontaneous donations, most of them made through the website (cancer.org), and events promoted in many different countries. The greatest one of them is the Relay for Life, which is a series of track and field activities held in all the Continents around the globe and that has raiser about U$ 5 billion since its first edition, in 1985.
In Brazil there are also some nonprofit organizations (NPOs) aimed at fighting cancer, such as Abrace (Associação Brasileira de Assistência às Famílias de Crianças Portadoras de Câncer e Hemopatias – “Brazilian Association of Assistance to the Families of Children Bearing Cancer and Hemopathy”), founded in 1986.