Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Alice Hoffman. (Photo: Alyssa Peek)

Alice Hoffman has published more than 30 novels, and the collection is still growing. Her latest, “The Invisible Hour,” is set to come out in August. As an award-winning author whose work has filmed with stars such as Nicole Kidman and Emma Roberts, Hoffman has had success to share through philanthropy. One of her largest impacts has been at Cambridge’s Mount Auburn Hospital, where she helped create The Hoffman Breast Center. To raise more money to fight breast cancer, the hospital holds a Pink Pages event every year for the past quarter-century full of stories and laughs from bestselling authors – this year with appearances by Anita Diamant, Lisa Genova, Ann Leary, Elinor Lipman, Jodi Picoult and Laura Zigman, and emceed by author and Emmy winner Hank Phillippi Ryan. The event is Monday. We spoke with Hoffman on Saturday by phone; the interview has been edited for length and clarity.


What inspired you to help create The Hoffman Breast Center?

I had breast cancer when I was 45, and I was treated at Mount Auburn Hospital. They were amazing to me, and I felt like I wanted to give something back. I was so in awe of what they did – the doctors, the nurses, the radiation people, everyone. At the time there was no Breast Center, so when you had treatment you were sitting there with everybody else, and it’s kind of an emotional thing to go through; it’s really nice to have a breast center that’s separate, where you can have privacy and really good care. In many hospitals people are rushed through because there’s just so many waiting in line. One of the things that The Hoffman Breast Center really sets out to do is treat everybody like you’re a person, so that you feel like you’re not just one more number. There’s a lot of support.

How did Pink Pages begin?

The first time we had it at The Brattle Theater, and it was just a reading to raise some money. After that, we started to have lunches, and it just kind of grew over the years. It became this wonderful event with all of these amazing writers donating their time. We’ve just been really lucky – we’ve had a list of incredible people. This year the writers are amazing and they’ve been so generous to us for many years. It’s really exciting.

What is usually your favorite part of pink pages? 

I like to listen to the writers, because they often talk about things that they don’t usually talk about. It’s not just a reading from their work, but more personal, more emotional.

What do you hope participants will take away?

I hope that they have a great night and also that they want to contribute and help grow the breast center. One of our most important principles at the hospital is that we hope to never turn anyone away, and that’s been harder and harder to do during Covid. It’s very hard to find medical staff. Many have left their jobs in medicine, and we still want to have the best  caregivers. My hope is that we raise a lot of money and that we make the center better than ever.

  • Pink Pages takes place at 7 p.m. Monday at at The American Repertory Theatre, 64 Brattle St., Harvard Square. Tickets start at $300.