Eight months after author Jonathan Safran Foer turned his mid-burrito boredom into a series of stories for Chipotle cups and to-go bags (by the likes of himself, Toni Morrison, Michael Lewis, and George Saunders), he’s at it again.
The fast-casual burrito chain recently announced a new slate of authors for its beverage cups and packaging. Augusten Burroughs (Running with Scissors), Julia Alvarez (In the Time of Butterflies), Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist), and Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible) are among the new additions. Foer curated the mix, which also includes Aziz Ansari and Walter Isaacson.
“When I received Jonathan Safran Foer’s invitation, he mentioned that as many as 800,000 people a day might read Cultivating Thought,” Alvarez said. “I was blown away! I love this democratization and liberation of literature from the gated communities of those who already have access to literature and an inclination to seek it out. I love the idea of taking Toni Morrison or George Saunders or Jonathan Safran Foer out of the classrooms, down from the bookshelves, out of ‘devices,’ and putting their two minutes of wisdom or whimsy in front of people, people of all ages, backgrounds, races, ethnicities, instead of the usual ‘reader’ types and intellectuals.”
Alvarez also said she’s pleased to add a Latina voice to the series, an omission that attracted some criticism when Chipotle announced its first batch of authors in May of last year. “I thought it was important as a Latina to add my voice to this series,” she said. “So it’s not just our food being served at Chipotle, but also our arts which we all vitally need to nourish the spirit and open wide the heart.” Alvarez’s story, “Two-Minute Spanglish con Mami,” focuses on the immigrant experience, especially as it pertains to what Alvarez described as “the biggest, hugest challenge I faced when I came to this country: learning English.”
“I love the idea of unexpected stories in unexpected places,” Burroughs said. “I’m working on a complicated memoir at the moment so writing a miniature memoir for the back of a cup was highly appealing.”
Coelho added that he hopes the cups and packaging will make “all of us to stop for one minute of our busy lives and read something special.” “As a writer, I think we all should find our daily spot to stop and meet our thoughts,” he added.
Kingsolver, who revealed she has “been known to pull out my reader even during a long red light,” said she dreads being caught without reading material. Naturally, I’m eager to help anyone who might be caught dining without food for thought,” Kingsolver said.
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