Ayelet Waldman gives ‘Love & Treasure’ to college-bound students

Ayelet Waldman (Photo by Deborah Copaken. Courtesy of Knopf) Ayelet Waldman (Photo by Deborah Copaken. Courtesy of Knopf)

The self-proclaimed “Bad Mother” is up to something good. Ayelet Waldman wants you to help her send some bright young people to college, and she’s trying out an innovative method to get people involved. This Friday, the author of the new novel “Love & Treasure” will conduct a live video chat on Wizeo. It’s a new crowdsourcing platform launched last year to promote charitable causes.

Waldman’s cause is ScholarMatch, a nonprofit group started by that staggering genius Dave Eggers to raise money for college-bound students. Waldman got involved back when she was serving on a scholarship selection committee for Eggers’s tutoring organization, 826 Valencia. Despite their good work, Waldman says those meetings were traumatic. “How do you decide which remarkable student not to help?” she asks. “They are all so astonishing and so deserving. Someone like me participates in that and goes home and cries. Someone like Dave Eggers participates in that and goes home and founds an organization that makes it possible for hundreds of students to go to college.”

On ScholarMatch, students describe themselves, their goals and their needs, and then people can donate — large or small amounts — to  get them to college.

Anyone who donates to ScholarMatch through Waldman’s Wizeo page, can participate in the video chat she’ll be conducting on May 16 at 6 p.m. EST. And one lucky donor selected at random will win a one-on-one video chat with the author.

(Courtesy of Knopf) (Courtesy of Knopf)

Perhaps best known for her bestselling collection of essays “Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace,” Waldman recently published “Love & Treasure,” a very engaging historical novel (reviewed here) about the infamous Gold Train on which the Nazis carried away the possessions of Hungarian Jews during WWII.

Although Waldman has been touring to promote “Love & Treasure,” this upcoming Wizeo author-chat offers many more readers and book clubs a way to interact with her. Participants need only a computer with an Internet connection and webcam. After a short reading from the novel, Waldman will answer questions.

“I’m eager to reach out beyond the hard-core audience that can find the time to come out to an event, and especially to readers in places off the beaten track,” Waldman says. And as a reader, she appreciates the chance to see and hear other authors. “I’m hugely attracted to an online forum that would allow me to interact with writers whose books are meaningful to me.”

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.
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Emily Yahr · May 12, 2014