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Dictionary of the Undoing  By  cover art

Dictionary of the Undoing

By: John Freeman, Valeria Luiselli - afterword
Narrated by: Jean Ann Douglass, John Freeman
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Publisher's summary

This program is read by the author.

For John Freeman—literary critic, essayist, editor, poet, “one of the preeminent book people of our time” (Dave Eggers)—it is the rare moment when words are not enough. But in the wake of the election of 2016, words felt useless, even indulgent. Action was the only reasonable response. He took to the streets in protest, and the sense of community and collective conviction felt right. But the assaults continued—on citizens’ rights and long-held compacts, on the core principles of our culture and civilization, and on our language itself. Words seemed to be losing the meanings they once had and Freeman was compelled to return to their defense. The result is his Dictionary of the Undoing.

From A to Z, “Agitate” to “Zygote,” Freeman assembled the words that felt most essential, most potent, and began to build a case for their renewed power and authority, each word building on the last. The message that emerged was not to retreat behind books, but to emphatically engage in the public sphere, to redefine what it means to be a literary citizen.

With an afterword by Valeria Luiselli, Dictionary of the Undoing is a necessary, resounding cri de coeur in defense of language, meaning, and our ability to imagine, describe, and build a better world.

©2019 John Freeman (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

Critic reviews

“[John Freeman] offers an alphabet of hope and action in this spare, eloquent meditation . . . The representative words, including resonant headings such as citizen, justice, and rage, introduce extended definitions that are sobering, probing, and precise . . . A protest, a poem, and a plea, Freeman’s utterly original manifesto is a pocket manual for informed political dissent and a must-read for all thinking citizens.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Poet and editor, John Freeman, has created a work of both artistry and activism in Dictionary of the Undoing, a lexicon of what should matter from A to Z—a complex and nuanced rebirthing of words that have been worn away by the strife and noise of this era." —WALTER MOSLEY

“All [of John Freeman’s] projects feel like an invitation to enter into a polyphonic, multi-voiced conversation with other minds. Dictionary of the Undoing is no different. It is a book that makes you think, then rethink. It invites you to engage with it, to refute it, to contribute to it.” —VALERIA LUISELLI

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