When I first started hosting chats, I didn’t record them because I worried it would hinder audience participation. But when Ruth, Veera and I were planning, they asked me to record our chat. Wow, am I glad we did. Due to the terrorist attack in Israel on October 7th, this conversation seems even more important than it did last spring. In addition to the incredible parallels in Ruth and Veera’s work we talk about othering and writing from a personal place.
In case you're unfamiliar with Ruth and/or Veera's work, there are several parallels, which we explore in depth in this episode. Both authors wrote novels around WWII. Ruth's novel Letters from Cuba is set on the eve of the war in 1939, and Veera's novel, The Night Diary happens two years after the war ends in 1947. Not only are these two novels set in similar eras, they're also both epistolary.
These two novels aren't the only similarity between their bodies of work, either. Both authors have novels set in the 1960s. Veera's How to Find What You're Not Looking For takes place in Connecticut, while Ruth's Lucky Broken Girl takes place in New York.
All four of these novels dive deep into othering be it the othering of Jewish people during WWII, the othering of Hindis and Muslims during the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan, the othering of biracial couples and immigrants in the 1960s. While the novels explore the pain of being othered, they also celebrate the power of perseverance and showcase characters who embrace diversity, even in times of duress.
Finally, as showcased above in the two soundbites, both authors write from deeply personal places, which is why their work is so powerful.
Be on the lookout for both of these authors new releases coming in 2024. I can't wait to read the sequel to Veera's The Night Diary, called Amil and the After or to read Ruth's Across So Many Seas, which she compares to Alan Grat'z stunning novel, Refugee.
Hà Dinh talks about wildflowers, night owls and trailblazers in this episode.
Hà and I had a delightful discussion about why she chose to include wildflowers in her powerful picture book debut, Where Wildflowers Grow. I shared a memory of picking a peony off a neighbor's bush for my kindergarten teacher, Ms. Young, and the joy I felt giving it to her followed by the shame of admitting I shouldn't have picked a flower off of someone else's bush. She shared memories of all the sweet bouquets she received as a first-grade teacher.
Unlike me who is a card-carrying member of the early bird group, Ha is a night owl. As soon as her children go to bed, she gets busy creating or researching about writing. She doesn't set a schedule for herself, because that stifles her flow. Instead, she works on whatever calls to her, for however long she's able.
When Ha grew up, she didn't see herself represented in books. She thanks authors Minh Lê and Joanna Ho for blazing the trail for her to tell her story.
During the episode, we talk about Eve Bunting's Fly Away Home, a book we've both used with our students to facilitate discussion about challenges that unhoused people face.
If you'd like to register to be eligible to win a free picture book critique from her, fill in this form by Saturday, October 21st, 2023.
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