Everyone has a pandemic story. From lockdowns and self-isolation to masks, testing, and remote work, there were so many ways that COVID-19 impacted humanity. For Dutchess County-based high school English teacher and former Hudson Valley editor Steve Fowler, it prompted a desire to capture those moments into words that people can reflect upon for years to come.
In Hindsight: Untold Stories from 2020, Fowler’s new anthology, he shares a collection of poignant tales of 2020 written by a diverse ensemble of people. The authors are spread across the globe, with backgrounds and cultures as varied as the stories they share. As a result, the book is not just one narrative, but an amalgam of memories, emotions, and reflections of what was undeniably a life-changing period of time.
“The idea for Hindsight first came to me in August 2020,” Fowler reveals. “At that point, the pandemic had already altered our lives in ways that were unimaginable just six months earlier, but the crazy thing about 2020 was how the chaotic events just continued to unfold one after another.”
Fowler watched as months of pandemic lockdowns and uncertainty led to unrest around George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter protests, devastating wildfires, and the explosion in Beirut. As the events continued to unfold, he knew that the stories spun during those moments needed to be told.
“It’s not often you can look around and say, ‘This is going to be written about in history books,’” he observes. “But in 2020, that was the only thing that was certain. I remember thinking this to myself, and I couldn’t help but feel that some of the details of life in 2020 would be lost to time. At that point, I started working on Hindsight with the hopes of bottling the experience of living through that year.”
He opted on an anthology format for the book, citing a desire to “capture the events of 2020 from the perspective of an everyday person.” To collect the stories, he held an open call accepting submissions from anyone, anywhere across the globe. In total, he received over 300 submissions from individuals spanning more than 28 countries.
It took him the better part of a year to read and assess them all before deciding which ones to include in the anthology. At the end of the day, he selected 32 unique pieces from writers across seven countries to feature in Hindsight.
“Choosing between stories was by far the most challenging part of the process,” he admits. “A few decisions were easy because the stories were so unique, but more often, there’d be three, four, five great stories that dealt with the same subject. Take remote work, for example. There were about seven excellent submissions about working remotely, each with its own merits.”
Now complete, Hindsight has a release date of March 1, 2023. In its pages, the anthology recounts narratives of doctors, nurses, photographers, teachers, parents, siblings, and more. The nonfiction accounts provides glimpses into the tumultuous period of life that was 2020, offering readers the chance to understand, reminisce, and reflect upon the unprecedented time.
To celebrate the book’s release in the Hudson Valley, Fowler has partnered with Rough Draft Bar & Books in Kingston on a preorder campaign, with distribution to other independent bookstores to follow. Hindsight is also available to purchase on Amazon.
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