I am a writer who lives in New York, and I can attest that we have nothing in our city to compare to Hugo House. Hugo House is known throughout the country for the unique literary community it has built, and I’d heard about it for years before I had the good fortune (and the honor) to be invited to read and teach there. Despite my high expectations, I was still unprepared for how warm, and how rigorously artistic, and also how inclusive and inspiring I found Hugo House and everyone involved in it to be—from [Executive Director] Tree Swenson, to the staff, to the members of the literary community.
Seattle’s continuing boom as a business and cultural center depends on the sort of grassroots dedication to the arts that Hugo House has pioneered, and will, I hope, continue to offer those who live in Seattle, as well as those of us who are lucky enough to visit. Hugo House represents the high water mark that all other non-university-affiliated literary organizations throughout the country strive to rise and meet. It is an inspiration, and I hope, with the proper funding, that it can continue to provide inspiration, even to those who live so far away.
Heidi Julavits is the author of four critically acclaimed novels (The Vanishers, The Uses of Enchantment, The Effect of Living Backwards, and The Mineral Palace). She coedited, with Sheila Heti and Leanne Shapton, the bestselling Women in Clothes. Her short stories have appeared in Harper’s, Esquire, the Best American Short Stories, McSweeney’s, among other places. Her nonfiction has appeared in Harper’s, the New York Times, Elle, Bookforum, and the Best American Travel Essays. She is a founding co-editor of The Believer magazine, the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, and winner of the PEN/New England Fiction Award. She currently teaches at Columbia University.