Strangers and Friends

you_were_strangers_560Ashley Makar makes friends for life. We have know this for years at Killing the Buddha–which Ashley helped revive, and has continued to grace with her beautiful essays about family, exile, mourning, prayer, and “living exuberantly” with metastatic cancer. Now that Ashley has published her very first e-book, You Were Strangers: Dispatches from Exile, we are proud to share her words and wisdom with a wider world. To celebrate, we are sharing a wonderful Skype conversation Ashley recorded with another of her longtime friends, the author John Green (The Fault In Our Stars).

John and Ashley, who went to high school together in a “little pocket of culture” outside Birmingham, Alabama, talk honestly about the attractions and dangers of writing about suffering, your own or that of others–what Ashley calls “the weirdness of trying to write from inside an experience” and the “tensions and apprehensions about telling other people’s stories.” John notes, “In Christianity we have a weird relationship with suffering…I think it’s necessary but I’m not convinced that it’s transcendent.” Their conversation, however, is.

If you’re not familiar with The Fault In Our Stars, the powerful story of a young adult struggling with cancer, or even if you are, we highly recommend reading “Young Adult Cancer Story” in the Los Angeles Review of Books, written by another dear friend of Ashley’s, Buddha-killer Briallen Hopper. Together, John, Briallen, and Ashley form what has been called “a triangle of awesomeness.”

Listen to the conversation, read an excerpt from You Were Strangers, purchase the book for Kindle or iBooks. You will be glad you did.

Ashley Makar works with refugees in Connecticut. She does community outreach for IRIS--Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, in New Haven. She has an e-book of essays, You Were Strangers: Dispatches from Exile. Ashley has published essays in Tablet, The Birmingham News, The Struggle Continues (the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute weblog), Religion Dispatches, and The New Haven Register.