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Guggenheim Fellow and author Anna Badkhen kicks off Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture’s new literary series Letters & Spirits on Nov. 3 with a discussion of her new essay collection, “Bright Unbearable Reality,” Long-listed for the National Book Award for nonfiction.

Guggenheim Fellow and author Anna Badkhen kicks off Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture’s new literary series “Letters and Spirits” on November 3 with a discussion of her new essay collection, “Bright Unbearable Reality,” Long-listed for the  National Book Award for nonfiction. Dubbed a ‘chronicler of a world on the move’ by “The New York Review of Books,” Badkhen seeks what separates and binds us. Her book of eleven essays set on four continents addresses the human condition in a time of unprecedented dislocation.

The series continues December 15 with renowned Dallas author Ben Fountain giving his hometown the first glimpse of his forthcoming novel “Devil Makes Three” well in advance of its publication September 2023. National Book Award Finalist and NBCC Winner Fountain’s newest novel is set in the aftermath of the 1991 coup d’état of Haiti's first democratically elected president. The novel follows an American expat who owns a dive shop, his Haitian American friends, and an intelligence officer who may be complicit in the disasters that surround them.

On February 16, 2023, Sanderia Faye, Hurston/Wright Legacy Award-winning fiction and nonfiction author, activist, Southern Methodist University professor, and sommelier will discuss her award-winning “Mourner’s Bench.” Set in the summer of 1964 in Maeby, Arkansas, the book tells the story of a young girl coming to terms with religion, racism, and feminism while also navigating the terrain of early adolescence and trying to settle into her place in her family and community.

All “Letters and Spirits” events feature original prose works read by the authors themselves. The events begin at 6 p.m. with author meet-and-greets, craft mocktails and cocktails, and light bites staged in the Institute’s historic Cour Regard house in Uptown (2719 Routh St., Dallas.) Author-led discussions of the books begin at 6:30 p.m. followed by moderated Q&As with the author from 7:30-8 p.m.   

As space is limited, advance registration is required. Tickets are $40 per person ($25 for members.) For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

“Letters and Spirits” is one of many new Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture programs announced this fall designed to push boundaries, bring diverse perspectives, inspire inclusive discussion and deep thinking, and produce enriched decision-making across the city. Dallas Institute events since September have featured Dallas’ first Poet Laureate Joaquin Zihuantanejo, Mumbai-born Dallas novelist Dr. Jaina Sanga exploring Salman Rushdie’s 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses”, and a sold-out seminar on Jim Schutze’s “The Accommodation” with book discussions led by Dionne Kirby, Richard Oliver, Jasmine Parker, Ph.D., and India Stewart, Ph.D.

Funding has been provided to the Institute from Humanities Texas, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021. All opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed by the Institute do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

Other major programmatic funders include Communities Foundation of Texas, The Laura and Walter Elcock Family Foundation, Kim Hiett Jordan, Dr. Nancy Cain Marcus and Mr. Sanford Robertson, Harry S. Moss Foundation, PEN-America-Dallas Chapter, The Provincial Foundation, Deedie Rose, Sapphire Foundation, and The Sidhu-Singh Family Foundation.