Commonwealth Avenue Resident, Joan Diver Pens Memoir

September 20, 2018
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Commonwealth Avenue resident and author Joan Diver, profiled in the Pulitzer Prize winning book, “Common Ground”, is available for interviews regarding her new memoir in which Boston plays a key role.  She will be reading from her book, which was recently featured on the cover of “Publishers Weekly”, at the Trident Booksellers and Cafe, 338 Newbury St., on Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m.

Diver shocked her colleagues when she abandoned her successful career as executive director of Boston’s Hyams Foundation. Nationally recognized for her leadership in philanthropy and social justice, she had distributed millions in grants over almost two decades. Now in her new memoir, “When Spirit Calls: A Healing Odyssey,” Diver recounts what led a foundation executive to embark on the path of a spiritual healer.

“There are countless books about spiritual awakenings, but Diver’s strong, intimate writing pushes readers along a path that’s rough but worthwhile going, for them as well as her,” according to Booklist.

Diver first came into the spotlight when featured in J. Anthony Lukas’ Pulitzer Prize winning book “Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families” —a chronicle of racial tensions over court-ordered school busing in Boston in the 1970s. She remained in the news as her tenure with the foundation captured public recognition. Now she is back, garnering new attention with this intimate telling of her journey into the heart of common ground—the common consciousness we all share.

From the congregation of preacher Howard Thurman (a spiritual mentor to civil rights leaders including Martin Luther King Jr.) to the feet of an Indian guru, through the struggles of urban life and debilitating back injury, from heartbreak to joy, Diver’s story unfolds like a fast-moving novel. Deeply personal, it reveals her fears in facing family crisis, physical pain, the probing interviews of a bestselling author, her spiritual awakening and the new life to which she is called. As she rides a roller coaster of emotions, her husband, Colin, who becomes Dean of Penn Law School, stands by her side, overcoming his skepticism and joining her as a self-described “stowaway” on her journey.

“An elegant and moving memoir of extraordinary explorations…into the world of healing ministries, spiritual guides, and esoteric experiences…Those who remain enclosed in a world of ‘hard facts’ will be challenged, for sure, but those who are open to another dimension, another world within this one have a wide-eyed journey ahead,” said The Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III, retired rector, Trinity Church in the City of Boston, ninth Dean of the Washington National Cathedral.

“Drawing from the concreteness of a life lived deeply in the world—a world of work and family, love and heartache—Diver has found a way to build a bridge that unites her own reflections and the cares and concerns that human beings hold in common,” said Cullen Murphy, editor at-large, The Atlantic; former contributing editor, Vanity Fair; and author of “The World According to Eve: Women and the Bible in Ancient Times and Our Own.”

Through years of recurring back pain, Diver is led on a surprising odyssey of healing for body and soul. It takes her from orthopedic surgeons to Santa Fe healers, from Christ’s tomb in Jerusalem to an ashram in India, from the peak of Mt. Sinai to a shattered temple in China, and from the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza to the inmost chambers of her heart.

Exploring traditions of East and West, “When Spirit Calls” is both adventure story and moving meditation. Diver hopes that her story will inspire readers to follow their own paths to healing and fulfillment, and thus become a catalyst for transformation in a divided world.

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