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April 16, 2024: Go outside

For the first time ever in the show’s history, we are venturing outside the four counties of western Massachusetts, but the ties of the 413 are still strong in the places to which we’re headed.

We head south to the home of the author of one of the most well-known pieces of abolitionist fiction. The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, CT is about to launch a new summer series with its Garden of Literacy event this weekend. So we chat with the executive director, Karen Fisk; the director of collections & public programs, Cat White; and the newly appointed director of interpretation and visitor experience, Erika Slocumb who, by the way, are all current or former 413 residents. They tell us about the center’s mission of literary activism, engaging history in their community can invigorate an area’s civic base, and all the fun things they’ll be getting up to this Saturday in their new event series.

On April 30, Restless Books in Amherst will release “The Book Censor’s Library,” a speculative fiction novel that wrestles with a wealth of issues relevant to any democracy in crisis. Author Bothayna Al-Essa speaks with us about this book, the only of hers that has not been banned in her home country of Kuwait, the real life parallels found in the pages, opening a bookstore in a nation with only-recently-lessened censorship, and the love of literature that has led to each.

Christopher “Monte'' Belmonte is host and executive producer of NEPM's The Fabulous 413. He was born and raised in Massachusetts and has been a radio host in western Massachusetts for the last 20 years — the last 17 of them as host of Mornings with Monte on The River 93.9/WRSI.
Kaliis Smith is a radio host and producer for NEPM's The Fabulous 413. She was most recently host and producer at The River 93.9/WRSI where she appeared on Mornings with Monte for the Nerdwatch segment and hosted weekday evenings.