All The Places We Come From: Stories, Food, & Community

Interactive Story Exchange followed by Writers Panel
Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022, doors open at 5:30 p.m.; event from 6-7:30 p.m. Shopland Hall, Scranton Cultural Center

An evening of story-sharing around the theme of migration featuring nationally acclaimed writers Anna Badhken, Angie Cruz, Joseph O’Neill, and Chinelo Okparanta. The event will begin with appetizers and sweets from Scranton's multi-ethnic restaurants, and a story-exchange facilitated by the artist-driven international empathy building organization, Narrative 4.



Anna Badkhen
Anna Badkhen is the author of seven published books. Her latest book, Bright Unbearable Reality (NYRB, 2022), is an essay collection. Her awards include the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Barry Lopez Visiting Writer in Ethics and Community Fellowship, and the Joel R. Seldin Award from Psychologists for Social Responsibility for writing about civilians in war zones. She has written from a dozen war zones on four continents. Her essays and short fiction appear in periodicals and literary magazines such as the New York Review of Books, Granta, The Common, Scalawag, Harper's, the Paris Review, and the New York Times. Badkhen was born in the Soviet Union and is a US citizen. 

headshot of Angie Cruz

Angie Cruz
Angie Cruz is an award-winning novelist and editor. How Not To Drown in A Glass of Water is her fourth novel, Dominicanawon numerous honors including being selected as the inaugural book pick for GMA book club and  shortlisted for The Women’s Prize, longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction, and winning the ALA/YALSA Alex Award in fiction. Cruz is the author of two other novels, Soledad and Let It Rain Coffee and the recipient of numerous fellowships and residencies. She's the founder and Editor-in-chief of the award winning literary journal, Aster(ixand divides her time between Pittsburgh, New York and Turin. 


Joseph O'Neill
Joseph O'Neill is the author of four novels, most recently The Dog (2014), which was longlisted for the Booker Prize and shortlisted for the PG Wodehouse Prize, and Netherland (2008), which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the Kerry Fiction Prize. He has also written a book of short stories, Good Trouble (2018) and a family history, Blood-Dark Track, which was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize.  His stories have appeared in the New Yorker and Harper's, and his political and literary essays in the New York Review of Books, the Atlantic, the Guardian, and other publications. Joseph is of Irish-Turkish parentage, grew up mainly in The Netherlands, worked as a lawyer in London, and for many years has lived in New York. He teaches at Bard College. 


Chinelo Okparanta
Chinelo Okparanta’s story collection HAPPINESS, LIKE WATER and her novel UNDER THE UDALA TREES have won and been nominated for numerous awards, including the Lambda Literary Award, O. Henry Prize, International Dublin Literary Award, Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award, NAACP Image Award, Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and New York Public Library Young Lions Award, among other honors; her most recent novel, HARRY SYLVESTER BIRD, was published by HarperCollins/Mariner in July 2022. 


Monica Sok
Monica Sok is the author of A Nail the Evening Hangs On (Copper Canyon Press, 2020). She has received fellowships from the Elizabeth George Foundation, Hedgebrook, Jerome Foundation, Kundiman, National Endowment for the Arts, the Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University, and others. Her work has been recognized with a "Discovery" Prize from 92Y. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Paris Review, POETRY, Kenyon Review, and New Republic, among others. Sok recently taught poetry as a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University and the Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants in Oakland, CA.

Please note: Angie Cruz was not able to join us for this event and instead were pleased to be joined by author Monica Sok.

Special Resources: 

WVIA's The Extraordinary Journey Migration Documentary Series

Project partners WVIA has created a special website,, which houses the 3 feature documentaries produced by WVIA:

  • The Extraordinary Journey - 3 Episode Series on The Eastern Europeans of Northeastern Pennsylvania 
    • The Extraordinary Journey celebrates and preserves NEPA's eastern European heritage through a poignant blend of first-person story telling, never-before-seen images and insightful humanist commentary. The film contributes to WVIA's mission to make distinguished local programming and honors the courageous character our ancestors possessed to create a finer life for us today.
  • The Irish: Two Nations - One Heart
    • Between 1840 and 1870, tens of thousands of Irish immigrants settled in Pennsylvania. The Irish: Two Nations, One Heart presents the stories of where they came from, why they left the “Emerald Isle”, how they got to America, the life they created in the Keystone State after they arrived, and their extraordinary ethnic legacy forged from that which they cherished most—family, faith and freedom.
  •  Paesani: Italian Culture in Northeast Pennsylvania
    • Paesani is a lively original documentary film that chronicles the massive immigration of more than four million Italians to the United States between 1890 and 1930, and the enduring culture these people imbued into American society.  This feature-length production is the third episode in VIA Studios’ historical documentary series The Extraordinary Journey.

For the duration of the Scranton's Story, Our Nation's Story project, WVIA is granting public access to these Humanities resources. 

The Extraordinary Journey series celebrates and preserves NEPA's European heritage through a poignant blend of first-person story telling, never-before-seen images and insightful humanist commentary. The film contributes to WVIA's mission to make distinguished local programming and honors the courageous character our ancestors possessed to create a finer life for us today.



Event sponsors:

  • The University of Scranton
  • The National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Narrative 4
  • Black Scranton Project
  • Scranton Public Library
  • Scranton Tomorrow
  • Lackawanna County Arts & Culture
  • Lackawanna County Immigrant Inclusion Committee
  • Marywood S.T.A.R.S. Program
  • NeighborWorks NEPA
  • The Greater Scranton MLK Commission
  • The Lackawanna Historical Society
  • The Scranton Area Ministerium 
  • United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania
  • WVIA
  • with special thanks to the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple