Award-winning journalist Vicki Gonzalez hosts interviews with community leaders, advocates, experts, artists and more to provide background and understanding on breaking news, big events, politics and culture in the Sacramento region and beyond.
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Donia Bijan, Rachel Howard, Vanessa Hua and Paula Treick DeBoard (left to right)
Courtesy of the authors
Today’s program features four powerful stories by Northern California writers. Donia Bijan and her family fled Iran in 1978 during the revolution. She wrote a fictionalized version of that experience in her debut novel, “The Last Days of Cafe Leila.” Rachel Howard focused her debut novel, “The Risk of Us,” on a wife, husband and their spectrum of experiences as they journey through the foster care system, deciding whether to adopt a child. Vanessa Hua talked with us about immigrant experiences in her debut story collection, “Deceit and Other Possibilities.” And Paula Treick DeBoard’s 2018 novel happened to match a timely real-life situation with deep social and political resonance. Her book is “Here We Lie.”
Donia Bijan and her family are immigrants. They fled from Iran during the revolution in 1978 and settled in Northern California. She has woven a part of her experience, in a fictionalized way, into her debut novel, “The Last Days of Cafe Leila.” But that’s only part of the colorful path her life has taken. She’s an award-winning chef and owner of a popular bistro in Palo Alto. Her books, including this one and her memoir, are a blend of culture, cuisine, history, family and truth. In this May 2017 conversation, Bijan talks about whether her emphasis on immigrants and immigration in the U.S. right now has revived emotions and memories and raised up part of herself that may have been tucked away.
Rachel Howard is a writer of non-fiction and fiction. Her debut novel, “The Risk of Us,” is about a young couple and the process they went through to adopt a child. In this April 2019 conversation with Howard, she also talked about her memoir, “The Lost Night.” It details her real life experience when she was ten years old. Her dad was killed, it was an unsolved murder and she tried to piece together what happened. And, before you hear this conversation, we want you to know there’s some material that may not be suitable for all listeners, as Howard discusses her father’s death and her experience trying to deal with it.
Author Vaness Hua writes a regular column for the San Francisco Chronicle. She’s also been a foreign correspondent in Asia and Latin America. Her debut story collection, “Deceit and Other Possibilities,” won the Asian Pacific American Award in Literature and was a finalist for the California Book Award. Hua writes about immigrant families and their children on both sides of the Pacific. Her newest book is “A River of Stars.” Hua spoke with Insight producer Cody Drabble in June 2017. At that time, one of her stories was slated to be performed at “Stories on Stage.” The first question: what is her inspiration for the stories in this collection?
Paula Treick DeBoard’s 2018 novel had a storyline that was beyond current, with deep social and political resonance. She didn’t know how relevant it would be when she was writing it in the first half of 2016. The book is called “Here We Lie.” It’s about a young woman who is sexually assaulted and silenced by a powerful man in politics. Sound familiar? In our January 2018 conversation, Insight host, Beth Ruyak asked DeBoard when she started writing this book. Before you listen, we want you to know there are some sensitive topics discussed in this conversation.
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