Friday, February 19, 2010

Former NE Portland Resident Returns with New Book!

Recently I had the opportunity to meet a most delightful new author, who just happened to grow up in Northeast Portland! Heidi Durrow, who attended Harriet Tubman Middle School and Jefferson High School, is in town this week talking about her new novel, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky.

The book tells the story of Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black GI, who finds herself living in Portland, struggling with issues of grief and identity. Living with her African American grandmother, Rachel finds herself for the first time in a mostly black community, after being raised by her mother to think of herself as white. In her book, Durrow tackles issues of racial polarization, gender, family, identiy, and loss, all presented in an incredibly moving and original voice.

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky was named a winner of the Bellwether Prize for Fiction, a biennial award given to a previously unpublished work of fiction, written by a US citizen, that addresses issues of social justice. The Bellwether Prize was established by Barbara Kingsolver. The previous winner of the Bellwether Prize was Mudbound, by Hilary Jordan.

Durrow, who is also the daughter of a white Danish mother and an African American Air Force father, is a graduate of Stanford University, Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, and Yale Law School. She co-hosts a weekly podcast, Mixed Chicks Chat, about being racially and culturally mixed and is the co-founder and co-producer of the Mixed Roots Film & Literary Festival, an annual free public event that celebrates stories of the Mixed experience.

I recently had the pleasure of talking to Heidi at the Winter Institute, a meeting for booksellers, and filmed a short clip of Heidi talking about why Portlanders will enjoy this book. We've already sold several copies of her novel, and she'll be stopping by to sign copies while she's here. I always enjoy reading books that are set in Portland and recognizing various landmarks -- a little bonus to a good read! You can also listen to an interview with Heidi by Dmae Roberts on KBOO.

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