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CBAW Loves

A new book club podcast hosted by Seema Reza (CEO, CBAW/ author, When the World Breaks Open & A Constellation of Half Lives) and produced by Amelia Bane. Each episode Seema invites a rotating cast of fellow writers and authors to discuss a book of the month. Through the podcast, we will continue virtually building community and fostering genuine connection through reading. Available on Apple & Spotify Podcasts, or YouTube Video at the icons below.




Latest Episode

City of Laughter: Featuring discussion with author, Temim Fruchter,
returning guest Amber Flame, and CBAW Community Members.

Show Notes

Episode 10: City of Laughter – featuring discussion with author, Temim Fruchter, returning guest Amber Flame, and CBAW Community Members.

In this episode City of Laughter author Temim Fruchter joins hosts Seema and Amelia, returning guest Amber Flame, and CBAW community members Amy, Jaci, Leena, & Raye, for a conversation about fiction as a portal, imagined queer lineages, and writing as a way to wrestle with the reality of mortality and time.

Don’t forget: We want to hear from you! Read the book and send in your thoughts to or share them on social media using the #CBAWLOVES hashtag.

About City of Laughter (from publisher, Grove Press)

A rich and riveting debut spanning four generations of Eastern European Jewish women bound by blood, half-hidden secrets, and the fantastical visitation of a shapeshifting stranger over the course of 100 years.

An ambitious, delirious novel that tangles with queerness, spirituality, and generational silence, City of Laughter announces Temim Fruchter as a fresh and assured new literary voice. The tale of a young queer woman stuck in a thicket of generational secrets, the novel follows her back to her family’s origins, where ancestral clues begin to reveal a lineage both haunted and shaped by desire.

Ropshitz, Poland, was once known as the City of Laughter. As this story opens, an 18th century badchan, a holy jester whose job is to make wedding guests laugh, receives a visitation from a mysterious stranger–bringing the laughter the people of Ropshitz desperately need, and triggering a sequence of events that will reverberate across the coming century.

In the present day, Shiva Margolin, recovering from the heartbreak of her first big queer love and grieving the death of her beloved father, struggles to connect with her guarded mother, who spends most of her time at the local funeral home. A student of Jewish folklore, Shiva seizes an opportunity to visit Poland, hoping her family’s mysteries will make more sense if she walks in the footsteps of her great-grandmother Mira, about whom no one speaks. What she finds will make her question not only her past and her future, but also her present.

Electric and sharply intimate, City of Laughter zigzags between our universe and a tapestry of real and invented Jewish folklore, asking how far we can travel from the stories that have raised us without leaving them behind.

Temim Fruchter is a queer nonbinary writer who was raised in a Modern Orthodox Jewish household. She holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Maryland and has received first prize in short fiction from both American Literary Review and New South; she is a 2020 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award winner. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Amber Flame is an artist and performer, whose work has garnered artistic merit residencies with Hedgebrook, Baldwin for the Arts, The Watering Hole, Wa Na Wari, Vermont Studio Center, and more. Flame’s second book of poetry, apocrifa, launched May of 2023. Amber Flame is a queer Black dandy mama who falls hard for a jumpsuit and some fresh kicks.

Find City of Laughter on CBAW Bookshop.

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Previous Episodes

Show Notes

Episode 9: Women of the Post – featuring discussion with author, Joshunda Sanders

In this episode, we welcome Women of the Post author, Joshunda Sanders for a conversation with Seema, Amelia and participants from CBAW’s More Than One Story program. Our discussion includes stories about the real-life women who inspired the characters in novel, what it means to exist in a place that was not designed for you, and what has (and has not) changed in the military since WWII.

Don’t forget: We want to hear from you! Read the book and send in your thoughts to or share them on social media using the #CBAWLOVES hashtag. We will read or play your comments on a future episode!

About Women of the Post

Inspired by true events, Women of the Post brings to life the heroines who proudly served in the all-Black battalion of the Women’s Army Corps in WWII, finding purpose in their mission and lifelong friendship.

1944, New York City. Judy Washington is tired of having to work at the Bronx Slave Market, cleaning white women’s houses for next to nothing. She dreams of a bigger life, but with her husband fighting overseas, it’s up to her and her mother to earn enough for food and rent. When she’s recruited to join the Women’s Army Corps–offering a steady paycheck and the chance to see the world–Judy jumps at the opportunity.

During training, Judy becomes fast friends with the other women in her unit–Stacy, Bernadette and Mary Alyce–who all come from different cities and circumstances. Under Second Officer Charity Adams’s leadership, they receive orders to sort over one million pieces of mail in England, becoming the only unit of Black women to serve overseas during WWII.

The women work diligently, knowing that they’re reuniting soldiers with their loved ones through their letters. However, their work becomes personal when Mary Alyce discovers a backlogged letter addressed to Judy. Told through the alternating perspectives of Judy, Charity and Mary Alyce, Women of the Post is an unforgettable story of perseverance, female friendship and self-discovery.

Author Bio

Joshunda Sanders is an award-winning author, journalist and speechwriter. A former Obama Administration political appointee, her fiction, essays and poetry have appeared in dozens of anthologies. She has been awarded residencies and fellowships at Hedgebrook, Lambda Literary, The Key West Literary Seminars and the Martha’s Vineyard Institute for Creative Writing. Women of the Post is her first novel.

About More Than One Story

More Than One Story (MTOS) is a monthly online writing and creative arts workshop partially funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs’ SSG Parker Gordon Fox Suicide Prevention Grant. In these special workshops, artists and writers help participants connect across shared experiences of service as women and non-binary people by writing poems, stories, journaling, narratives, and creating visual arts such as paintings and meditative art. No experience with art making or poetry is necessary. Learn more.


Show Notes

Episode 8: Monstrilio- featuring discussion with poet Tarfia Faizullah

In this episode, we discuss Gerardo Sámano Córdova’s debut novel Monstrilio with poet and recurring CBAWLoves panelist, Tarfia Faizaullah.

Don’t forget: We want to hear from you! Read the book and send in your thoughts to or share them on social media using the #CBAWLOVES hashtag. We will read or play your comments on a future episode!

About “Monstrilio”

Grieving mother Magos cuts out a piece of her deceased eleven-year-old son Santiago’s lung. Acting on fierce maternal instinct and the dubious logic of an old folktale, she nurtures the lung until it gains sentience, growing into the carnivorous little Monstrilio she keeps hidden within the walls of her family’s decaying Mexico City estate. Eventually, Monstrilio begins to resemble the Santiago he once was, but his innate impulses–though curbed by his biological and chosen family’s communal care–threaten to destroy this fragile second chance at life.

A thought-provoking meditation on grief, acceptance, and the monstrous sides of love and loyalty, Gerardo Sámano Córdova blends bold imagination and evocative prose with deep emotional rigor. Told in four acts that span the globe from Brooklyn to Berlin, Monstrilio offers, with uncanny clarity, a cathartic and precise portrait of being human.

Author Bio

Gerardo Sámano Córdova is a writer and artist from Mexico City, where he currently resides. He holds an MFA in Fiction from the University of Michigan. He has studied with Alexander Chee at Bread Loaf as a work/study scholar, and with Garth Greenwell at Tin House. His work has appeared in Ninth Letter, Passages North, and Chicago Quarterly Review, and is forthcoming in The Common.

About Our Guest

Tarfia Faizullah is the author of two poetry collections, REGISTERS OF ILLUMINATED VILLAGES (Graywolf, 2018) and SEAM (SIU, 2014). Tarfia’s writing appears widely in the U.S. and abroad in the Daily Star, Hindu Business Line, BuzzFeed, PBS News Hour, Huffington Post, Poetry Magazine, Ms. Magazine, the Academy of American Poets, Oxford American, the New Republic, the Nation, Halal If You Hear Me (Haymarket, 2019), and has been displayed at the Smithsonian, the Rubin Museum of Art, and elsewhere.

The recipient of a Fulbright fellowship, three Pushcart prizes, and other honors, Tarfia presents work at institutions and organizations worldwide, and has been featured at the the Liberation War Museum of Bangladesh, the Library of Congress, the Fulbright Conference, the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, the Radcliffe Seminars, NYU, Barnard, UC Berkeley, the Poetry Foundation, the Clinton School of Public Service, Brac University, and elsewhere.

Tarfia’s writing is translated into Bengali, Persian, Chinese, and Tamil, and is part of the theater production Birangona: Women of War. Tarfia’s collaborations include photographers, producers, composers, filmmakers, musicians, and visual artists, resulting in several interdisciplinary projects, including an EP, Eat More Mango. In 2016, Tarfia was recognized by Harvard Law School as one of 50 Women Inspiring Change, and is a 2019 USA Artists Fellow. Born in Brooklyn, NY to Bangladeshi immigrants and raised in Texas, Tarfia currently lives in Dallas.


Join The Book Club!

Join our Book Club and be part of the conversation! Share your thoughts and comments on the books we’re reading, or the episodes that resonated with you. We value your input and may even feature your comments in future episodes! You can contribute by emailing us your text thoughts or sending audio/video clips to Alternatively, share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #CBAWLOVES.

United Against Silence

In our very first podcast series United Against Silence, Seema Reza (Poet, Essayist, CEO of Community Building Art Works) interviews some of the most incredible artists of our time. Below are a few fan-favorite interviews, and there are dozens more available on YouTube and other major audio podcast platforms using the buttons below.