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Monday 8:30am-9pm, Tuesday-Saturday 8:30am-10pm, Sunday 10am-9pm 

Priya Basil with Elissa Altman

Priya Basil with Elissa Altman

Tuesday, November 10, 2020 - 12:00PM ET
Event Location: 
Event address: 
279 Harvard Street
Coolidge Corner
Brookline, MA 02446-2908

You can watch a recording of this event, along with other virtual Transnational Series events, on our YouTube channel.

A thought-provoking meditation on food, family, identity, immigration, and, most of all, hospitality—at the table and beyond—that's part food memoir, part appeal for more authentic decency in our daily worlds, and in the world at large.

Be My Guest is an utterly unique, deeply personal meditation on what it means to tend to others and to ourselves—and how the two things work hand in hand. Priya Basil explores how food—and the act of offering food to others—are used to express love and support. Weaving together stories from her own life with knowledge gleaned from her Sikh heritage; her years spent in Kenya, India, Britain, and Germany; and ideas from Derrida, Plato, Arendt, and Peter Singer, Basil focuses an unexpected and illuminating light on what it means to be both a host and a guest. Lively, wide-ranging, and impassioned, Be My Guest is a singular work, at once a deeply felt plea for a kinder, more welcoming world and a reminder that, fundamentally, we all have more in common than we imagine.

Priya Basil was born in London to a family with Indian roots and grew up in Kenya. In 2002, she moved to Berlin, where she still lives. She has published two novels and a novella, as well as numerous essays for various publications, including The Guardian. Her fiction has been nominated for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Basil is also the cofounder of Authors for Peace, a political platform for writers and artists, established in 2010.

Moderator Elissa Altman is the critically-acclaimed author of Motherland: A Memoir of Love, Loathing, and Longing; Poor Man's Feast: A Love Story of Comfort, Desire, and the Art of Simple Cooking and the James Beard Award-winning narrative blog of the same name; and Treyf: My Life as an Unorthodox Outlaw. Her work has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, The Wall Street JournalOn BeingThe GuardianThe New York TimesTin HouseThe RumpusLitHub, and The Washington Post, where her column, Feeding My Mother, ran for a year. Her work has been anthologized in Best Food Writing for six consecutive years. A finalist for the 2020 Lambda Literary Award, Altman teaches the craft of memoir at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Maine Publishers and Writers, The Loft Literary Center, 1440 Multiversity, and has appeared live on stage at TEDx and The Public, on Heritage Radio, and on NPR. She lives in Connecticut.