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Daisy Hernández in Conversation With Amy Stewart
June 15 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pmFree
Growing up in a New Jersey factory town in the 1980s, Daisy Hernández believed that her aunt had become deathly ill from eating an apple. No one in her family, in either the United States or Colombia, spoke of infectious diseases, and even into her thirties, she only knew that her aunt had died of a rare illness called Chagas. But as Hernández dug deeper, she discovered that Chagas — or the kissing bug disease — is more prevalent in the United States than the Zika virus. Today, more than 300,000 Americans have Chagas. Why do some infectious diseases make headlines and others fall by the wayside? After her aunt’s death, Hernández begins searching for answers about who our nation chooses to take care of and who we ignore. Crisscrossing the country, she interviews patients, epidemiologists, and even veterinarians with the Department of Defense. Hernández’s The Kissing Bug (Tin House) tells the story of how poverty, racism, and public policies have conspired to keep this disease hidden — and how the disease intersects with Hernández’s own identity as a niece, sister, and daughter; a queer woman; a writer and researcher; and a citizen of a country that is only beginning to address the harms caused by Chagas, and the dangers it poses. A riveting and nuanced investigation into racial politics and for-profit healthcare in the United States, The Kissing Bug reveals the intimate history of a marginalized disease and connects us to the lives at the center of it all. Hernández will be joined in conversation by Amy Stewart, author of the Kopp Sisters series and The Drunken Botanist.