Mohsin Hamid, a native of Pakistan was the featured speaker Saturday for a benefit for the International Rescue Committee at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Baltimore.
Ivy Bookshop hosted the program in partnership with Redeemer Church. The beneficiary of the combined effort was the IRC. Its laudable mission is to work in the area of “refugee rescue and resettlement.”
For tonight’s literary happening, there was a $28 per person admission charge, (or per couple), which included a copy of the book. The Ivy donated 100 percent of the net book sales to the IRC.
Ivy’s co-owner, Ann Berlin, was also on the program. She said in reference to the worldwide refugee crisis, “What’s going on right now is not OK.” She introduced Hamid.
As the fates would have it, Hamid’s latest novel, his fourth, “Exit West,” is on this week’s front cover of the New York Times’ book review. The reviewer, Viet Thanh Nguyen called it an “imaginative inventive novel.” He added that Hamid is also “a graceful writer who does not shy away from contentious politics and urgent, world matters – and we need so many more of these writers.”
Redeemer’s rector, Rev. David J. Ware provided the welcoming remarks. Incidentally, just about every seat in the church was filled for the event. There was also a brief Q&A session moderated by Eduard Berlin, co-owner of Ivy after Hamid’s comments.
In between readings from his novel, Hamid commented on his background and the current refugee crisis. Besides, Pakistan, he has lived in London, New York and California.
Hamid called his novel a “book about migration,” which contains an “optimistic gesture” for the future. In answer to a question, he said, that in light of the current crisis, “I always carry my passport with me!”
This response cracked up the audience.
Another speaker, Ruben Chandrasekar, Executive Director of the Baltimore branch of the IRC, brought the audience up to date on the workings of his agency. He labeled President Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban #2, both “cruel and immoral.”
The IRC operates in 39 countries and 28 U.S. cities, including Baltimore. It was founded in 1933, in NYC. Since 1999, the IRC has helped about 15,000 refugees to settle across the state of Maryland.
(Meanwhile, on the national legal front, Maryland’s activist Attorney General, Brian E. Frosh, has joined in a lawsuit, with other states, challenging the President’s Muslim Ban #2. He denounced it as “illegal, unconstitutional and un-American.”)
Filling out the program was Judith Krummeck, who has been the popular “evening drive time host, since 1998,” for the classical WBJC, 91.5FM radio station. A native of South Africa, she shared her experience as “an immigrant.”
Krummeck said her people had been in South Africa for “five generations, going back to 1815.” They had migrated from England. It was her “choice” to leave Capetown, South Africa, but she deeply sympathized with those who are currently being “forced out” of their homeland.
Krummeck is also an actress, educator and author. Her latest book, “Beyond the Baobab,” is a collection of essays about her immigrant experience. To learn more about the talented Ms. Krummeck, check out,
Let me end with this note: Who do think was the moving figure behind the founding of the IRC? Try Albert Einstein.
To learn more details about this benefit event, check out the Facebook page.
To see eight more of my photos from this event, go to my Facebook page.