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Dialogue

Dialogue

Conversations from the Sun Valley Writers' Conference - 2012

Alexandra Fuller

Marcia Franklin talks with author Alexandra Fuller.

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Marcia Franklin talks with author Alexandra Fuller about her works, her life and her writing philosophy.

Fuller was raised in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Malawi and Zambia. Her reminiscences of growing up in war-torn Africa with her hardscrabble parents form the basis of two memoirs, Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood (2002) and Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness (2011).

In the books, she details her growing awareness not only of the manic depression and alcoholism of her mother, who lost three children to disease and accident, but also of the unequal treatment of whites and blacks in Africa and her parents' own racism.

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight was a New York Times Notable Book, a Booksense best non-fiction book and a finalist for the Guardian's First Book Award.

Another memoir set in Africa, Scribbling the Cat: Travels with an African Soldier (2004), chronicles a trip Fuller took through parts of Africa with "K," a former Rhodesian fighter who travels back to the locations of his rebel activity and confesses to some of his brutal acts, including the torture of a young woman. The book won the Ulysses Prize for the Art of Reportage.

In The Legend of Colton H. Bryant (2008), Fuller pieces together the life of a young oil rig worker in Wyoming who died in a fall from a rig in 2006, and investigates what could have been done to prevent the death. The book won Best Non-Fiction Book of 2008 from the Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper.

Fuller has also written for numerous magazines and newspapers. She lives in Jackson Hole, WY.

The interview is part of Dialogue's ongoing "Conversations from the Sun Valley Writers' Conference" and was taped at the 2012 conference. Since 1995, the conference has been bringing together authors to discuss literature and life. Marcia Franklin has interviewed speakers there since 2005.

Related Links:
Alexandra Fuller's website

Amy Waldman

Marcia Franklin talks with author Amy Waldman.

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When Amy Waldman, a former reporter for The New York Times, had a brainstorm for a novel about a Muslim architect who wins a competition to design the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero, she shelved it.

But the thought kept coming back, and eight years later, coinciding with the 10th anniversary of 9/11, she published The Submission, the product of that original idea.

The bestselling novel tells the tale of Mohammad "Mo" Khan, a secular Muslim who wins a blind competition to design a memorial honoring victims of a bombing similar to 9/11. When the jury members discover who've they've selected, some try to change the result. But the decision is leaked to the press, resulting in outrage not over the selection of Khan, but over his entry, which includes a garden some think is an Islamic design to honor martyrs.

The outcry is reminiscent of the 2010 controversy over Park51, a planned Islamic community center in New York City near the former Twin Towers. But Waldman had finished the first draft of her book before that story erupted.

Marcia Franklin talks with Waldman about the development of her story line and characters, and why the author never mentions 9/11. The two also discuss the role of memorial design in American discourse and how Waldman modified the book when the Park51 controversy occurred.

The Submission was a finalist for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN First Fiction Award and was a New York Times Notable Book for 2011, one of National Public Radio's Ten Best Novels; Esquire's Book of the Year; Entertainment Weekly's #1 Novel for the Year and one of Amazon's top ten debut fiction books of 2011.

Waldman was a reporter for The New York Times for eight years, three of which were as co-chief of the New Delhi bureau. She was also a national correspondent for The Atlantic. Her next book is a novel about Afghanistan, where she once worked as a reporter.

The interview is part of Dialogue's ongoing "Conversations from the Sun Valley Writers' Conference" and was taped at the 2012 conference. Since 1995, the conference has been bringing together authors to discuss literature and life. Marcia Franklin has interviewed speakers there since 2005.

Related Links:
The Submission (book site)

S.C. Gwynne

Marcia Franklin talks with author S.C. Gwynne

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S.C. (Sam) Gwynne is the author of Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History. The book, which spent four months on the New York Times' Top 10 Best Seller's List, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2011, a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist and the winner of both the Texas and Oklahoma Book Awards.

It paints the epic story of the Comanches, who at one time ranged over an estimated 250,000 square miles of the American Plains, an area now part of five states. It also draws the more intimate story of Cynthia Ann Parker, a nine-year old girl who was kidnapped by Comanches during a raid on the family's Texas homestead. Parker subsequently spent 24 years with the tribe and had three children, including Quanah, who would become one of the Comanche's most skilled warriors. But the two were ultimately separated.

Marcia Franklin talks with Gwynne about why he was drawn to the stories of the Comanches, the Parkers and Quanah, why their history is not more broadly known, and why he thinks the Comanches were the most powerful tribe in America.

Gwynne is a special correspondent for the Texas Monthly, where he was the executive editor for nearly a decade. He has also held several positions at Time magazine, including correspondent, bureau chief and senior editor. His work there was honored with the National Headliners Award, the Gerald Loeb Award for business writing and the Jack Anderson Award for investigative reporting.

He is the author of two other books, Selling Money and The Outlaw Bank. His next book will be about Stonewall Jackson.

The interview is part of Dialogue's ongoing "Conversations from the Sun Valley Writers' Conference" and was taped at the 2012 conference. Since 1995, the conference has been bringing together authors to discuss literature and life. Marcia Franklin has interviewed speakers there since 2005.

Related Links:
S. C. Gwynne's website

Naomi Shihab Nye

Marcia Franklin talks with poet Naomi Shihab Nye.

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Naomi Shihab Nye is a Palestinian-American poet living in San Antonio, TX. The author or editor of more than 30 works of poetry, fiction and essays, Nye is known for elevating the "ordinary" with her keen observations of daily life, including life in Latino and Arab communities.

Her books include: Words Under the Words, Red Suitcase, Fuel, You and Yours, Never in a Hurry, Habibi, A-maze Me, Honeybee and 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East, which was nominated for the National Book Award.

Nye, whose father was a journalist, gleans many of the subjects for her poems from the news, including writing about both the tensions and close relationships between Palestinians and Israelis. The promotion of cross-cultural understanding and peace is an important component of her work, as is teaching poetry to children, publishing their poems and writing children's books.

Marcia Franklin talks with Nye about her beginnings as a poet, the influences on her work, her tips for writing, the role of poetry in society and her thoughts on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Nye has received many accolades for her work, including the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book award and four Pushcart Prizes. In 2010, members of the Academy of American Poets elected her a chancellor of that organization for a six-year term.

The interview is part of Dialogue's ongoing "Conversations from the Sun Valley Writers' Conference" and was taped at the 2012 conference. Since 1995, the conference has been bringing together authors to discuss literature and life. Marcia Franklin has interviewed speakers there since 2005.

Related Links:
Naomi Shihab Nye (Poetry Foundation)
Naomi Shihab Nye (Academy of American Poets)