On Africa, Joseph Kony, and the Limits of Writing About Love

by Rachel Baker on February 21, 2014

One of the most influential books I’ve ever read was A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. While it was not the best book ever written, it was about a subject that I knew nothing about and could not even make myself imagine. This book has stayed with me for years, in a most haunting way.

That is why when I saw this interview with Susan Minot about her book, titled Thirty Girls, I couldn’t help but be interested. This particular book sounds heartwrenching, but I think it will probably be worth reading.

Novelist Susan Minot’s new book takes on a daunting subject: Joseph Kony and child soldiers. She talks to Lea Carpenter about why fiction can tell this story so powerfully.

“Africa was a big place, and would offer its own suggestions.” Paul Bowles put it that way in Let It Come Down, a title taken from a Shakespearean assassin just before he strikes. Bowles called the title “succinct and brutal,” a fine description that happened also to capture and map an idea of a place: then, Africa. Susan Minot’s mapped many places in her career, many of them interior, but her new novel, Thirty Girls, is also set in Africa, and describes an American journalist’s affair while there alongside the story of girls conscripted into a warlord’s army. It’s a book about the relativity of pain; the grace of forgiveness; and the essential unknowability of a lover, how unknowability’s relation to love is perhaps, if ironically, axiomatic. We talked, then emailed.

Check out the remainder of the article here:

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