Santa Fe, NM
Claudette Sutton’s first book arose from a seemingly simple request from her father, who asked for her help in “putting my story down on paper.” He envisioned a few pages that he could present to friends, describing his childhood in in Syria, his years in Shanghai under Japanese occupation during World War II, and his family’s eventual resettlement in America.
Once they started talking, however, it was clear that the stories Mike Sutton was sharing were treasures from the family vault. After thousands of hours of interviews and historical research, the simple request expanded into “Farewell, Aleppo: My Father, My People, and Their Long Journey Home,” published by Terra Nova Books in 2014.
Told with a journalist's eye and a daughter's love, the narrative chronicles her father’s youth in an ancient (now vacated) Jewish community, his odyssey across oceans and continents, and the new life he made in America. What began as one man’s story grew into a portrait of the history that made his journey necessary, and of how a vibrant people have preserved their community and culture through the thousands of years from biblical times to today.
Since its publication in 2014, Claudette has given over 50 talks and readings at bookstores, synagogues, churches, adult ed programs, and museums around the country, as well as meeting with numerous private book clubs. “Farewell, Aleppo” won Best History Book from the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards, and second place from New Mexico Press Women. An unabridged audiobook read by the author is available through Audible.
Sutton’s professional writing experience began in her late teens and twenties, when she wrote feature stories about community members in suburban Maryland as a staff reporter for the “Montgomery County Sentinel.” After moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico and starting a family, she created “Tumbleweeds,” a quarterly parenting newspaper that she published and edited for 26 years before selling it to new owners in 2021. Throughout her ownership, Tumbleweeds received numerous state and national awards for writing and editing, including several national awards for “Notes from Claudette,” her personal essays that introduced each issue.
In addition to writing, editing, and teaching, she is an occasional writing judge. After her short story “A Man of Fewer Words” was awarded runner-up in the Able Muse Write Prize for Fiction in 2018, she was selected as a judge in the magazine’s fiction contest in 2021.
Today, she is hard at work on her second book, the story of her maternal grandparents as told to her late mother, their daughter.