Archive for the ‘9/11’ Category

I’m not a big fan of musical theater and I’ve never actually seen West Side Story, but I caught a glimpse of the film version last month on PBS. And that song just came to mind because today when I was signing books at the BPL, a young woman wearing the hijab came up to me and said, “I really loved this book because everything that Hakeem feels is just what I feel, too! Because he’s Muslim and so am I.” I told her how much that meant to me, but I’m not sure I was able to fully convey my meaning and there was a long line of kids behind her waiting to have their books signed. I won’t start gushing about the Brooklyn Public Library, but this is yet another program that serves the kids in my community—50 kids got a copy of Ship of Souls, and then they came in to hear my author talk and have their books signed. And they were SO ready to talk about the book! I started off with Bird and they kept finding connections to Ship of Souls. There were dozens of hands up in the air by the time I finished my talk, but we only had time for three or four questions. The teachers told me that the entire sixth grade had read the book, and I’ll be going to their school next month to meet everyone else. There’s nothing like seeing kids excited about reading! And, of course, one girl raised her hand and asked, “Will you write a book about us?” I told her that I wrote about Brooklyn and my own neighborhood so that kids like her would see themselves on the page. And half a dozen boys asked when the book will be made into a film. I told them that I had sent the book to Spike Lee (no response so far) and assured them that Nyla’s book was underway…



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Ten years ago I was in Athens, OH. I won a dissertation fellowship at Ohio University, and had moved there about a week before 9/11. On that sunny morning I had gone for a run and when I returned to my campus apartment, my sister called from Toronto and frantically told me to turn on the TV. As I watched footage of the planes hitting the Twin Towers she kept saying, “It’s over! It’s over! You don’t understand—they’ve already fallen.” I finally hung up and tried to grasp what was happening—what had already happened—in the beloved city I had chosen as my home. I remember feeling very isolated in the weeks following 9/11; I wasn’t teaching, I wasn’t taking classes. I spent most of my days alone in my apartment—writing. Not my dissertation (on depictions of racial violence). I reread The Little Prince and immersed myself in stories for children. By November I was able to write this story, which has been rejected over and over by editors and won’t likely be published now. I think maybe today’s the right day to post it here on the blog. [ETA: I’ve decided to self-publish The Girl Who Swallowed the Sun so I’m taking it down from the blog.]


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