Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Local Authors Join eBay Fundraiser to Aid Ailing Mills College Alum

By Anneli Rufus
Tue, Sep 14, 2010 at 2:56 PM

Two editors met and became friends while striving to earn MFAs at Mills College; today, one of those editors has cancer and the other is launching a fundraiser to defray medical costs.

As reported at the LA Times blog:

"When Christine Lee Zilka's friend Jennifer Derilo was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, she decided she was going to do something to help. The two became friends when getting their MFA degrees in creative writing at Mills College in Northern California, and are now editors at the Kartika Review" — an Asian American literary jounral.

"Zilka knew her friend Derilo, 32, had no health insurance.

"So Zilka called on friends, and some friends of friends, and a few strangers, and put together a literary auction, which is going on now on eBay."

Biddables include autographed books and manuscripts by Yiyun Lee, Daniel Alarcón, Alexander Chee, and other authors.

Additional items include a personalized artist book by Justin Chin, book-proposal and manuscript critiquing services by such notables as Michelle Richmond and Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum, a poetry reading for hire, a semester's worth of teaching advice, and the chance to have one's name given to characters in forthcoming books by Beth Lisick, Chris Abani, Mat Johnson, and others — or in a work of erotica by Thea Hillman. Bids have already topped $200 on some items.

Zilka told the Times blogger that she felt "incredibly helpless" watching Derilo battle Hodgkin's Lymphoma:

"I mean, she spent the first several weeks after diagnosis navigating the healthcare system and figuring out ways she could even GET treatment without health insurance. Someone with health insurance would've gone into treatment immediately. Tragic."

Zilka herself has had a stroke, for which she spent a year in recovery: "I thought about how devastating those awful bills would have been had I not had health insurance."

According to the LA Times blog, purchases made through the EBay sales will go directly to pay Derilo's medical bills — "in other words, they're probably not tax deductible."

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