Mary Jo McConahay – “The Tango War”


Richard Feinberg

During World War II, the United States urged Latin America to join the struggle. Washington aimed to deny Germany and Italy access to vital raw materials from the continent, disrupt fascist spy networks there, and protect transatlantic sea-lanes. The U.S. war machine relied on Mexican oil and Brazilian rubber; Mexicans replaced American farm workers diverted to military service; and a Brazilian expeditionary force fought bravely in the invasion of Italy. These facts have been well recorded elsewhere, but McConahay, a seasoned journalist, enriches her dramatic account of the period with sympathetic interviews of survivors whose lives were scarred by wartime disruptions. She reminds readers that U.S. behavior was not always noble. People of German and Japanese origin living in Latin America were kidnapped, shipped to remote prison camps in the United States, and sometimes bartered for American prisoners of war. And opportunistic U.S. firms seized market shares from their excluded Axis competitors. Distrustful of U.S. power, some Latin American countries leaned toward neutrality or even the Axis, but McConahay reveals the essential truth that, in a time of great peril, the United States and most of Latin America found common cause against a shared enemy.


  1. C-SPAN
    • Profile
      • Journalist Mary Jo McConahay provided a history of Latin American involvement in World War II, as both the Allied and the Axis powers vied for its support.
    • Video #1
      Published On :- 2018-Sept-18th

Matthew Thomas, A Teacher And An Author


  1. Bergin OMalley
    • Launch of Matthew Thomas “We Are Not Ourselves”
  2. Amazon Books
    • Matthew Thomas at Book Expo America
      “We Are Not Ourselves” author talks to about his highly anticipated debut novel at Book Expo America 2014
      Channel :- Amazon Books
      Published On :- 2014-August-19th
  3. Simon & Schuster Books
    • Author Matthew Thomas on starting ‘We Are Not Ourselves’
      • Profile
        • Author Matthew Thomas discusses how he started writing his critically-acclaimed bestseller ‘We Are Not Ourselves’ with ‘Supernatural’ actor Misha Collins.
      • Videos
        • Video #1
          Channel :- Simon & Schuster Books
          Published On :- 2015-July-7th
    • Author Matthew Thomas Reflects on His Father’s Alzheimer’s Disease
      • Profile
        • Learn more about We Are Not Ourselves at… In his acclaimed debut novel, We Are Not Ourselves, Matthew Thomas shares his deeply personal experience of his father’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease. “He took the news like a champ,” the author recalls. His novel, inspired by his father’s own illness, took a decade to complete and was an instant New York Times bestseller.
      • Videos
    • Behind the Book: We Are Not Ourselves
      • Profile
        • Learn more about We Are Not Ourselves at… Simon & Schuster’s Editor-in-Chief, Marysue Rucci, reveals the incredible affect that reading We Are Not Ourselves had on her, and the decade long process that author Matthew Thomas went through to write the novel.
      • Videos
  4. Author Matthew Thomas in discussion with Misha Collins about Matthew’s first novel, “We Are Not Ourselves”. Event held on Sunday, 28 Sep at Barnes & Noble, The Grove at Farmers Market, L.A.
    • Videos
      • Video #1
        Channel :- luvjackson1
        Published On :- 2014-Sept-28th
  5. Matthew Thomas – We Are Not Ourselves
    • Profile
      • Authors Revealed 2014
    • Host :- Becky Anderson
    • Channel :- nctv17
    • Videos
  6. Matthew Thomas – We Are Not Ourselves
    • Profile
      • Author Matthew Thomas (We Are Not Ourselves) came to St. Francis College March 9, 2015 to help celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a reading and discussion of his New York Times Bestselling book. The novel, about an Irish family in Queens, has a strong connection to St. Francis College, as Matthew’s family member Ronald Thomas ’64 is an alumnus of the College and several scenes in the book may have been inspired by Ronald’s time at St. Francis. About We Are Not Ourselves Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents in Woodside, Queens, in an apartment where the mood swings between heartbreak and hilarity, depending on whether guests are over and how much alcohol has been consumed. When Eileen meets Ed Leary, a scientist whose bearing is nothing like those of the men she grew up with, she thinks she’s found the perfect partner to deliver her to the cosmopolitan world she longs to inhabit. They marry, and Eileen quickly discovers Ed doesn’t aspire to the same, ever bigger, stakes in the American Dream.
    • Channel :- St. Francis College
    • Videos
      • Video #1
        Published On :- 2015-March-23rd
  7. St Francis College
    • SFCTV Profiles Matthew Thomas – We Are Not Ourselves
      SFCTV Reporter Tia Quirk tells us about the visit to St. Francis College by New York Times Bestselling Author Matthew Thomas.
    • Videos
      • Video #1
        Published On :- 2015-April-23rd

Mitch Albom


Always liked Mitch Albom outspokenness on the ESPN show, The Sports Reporter.

Liked him even more upon reading his book, “Tuesday with Morrie”.

Was blessed today seeing him in a movie someone posted on YouTube.

The name of the movie is “Have a little Faith“.



  1. Sports Reporter
    • 13 times Associated Press ( AP ) Reporter of the Year
  2. Charity
    • 7 Charities in Detroit alone
    • 1 in the Philippines
    • 1 in Haiti
      • Spends 4 days each Month in Haiti
      • Most amazing experience in my life
      • For someone who was not blessed with Children this is the closest I will ever get of Children of my own
      • Yes, I have nieces and nephews that I adore, but these kids need me




  1. CBS News
    • Mitch Albom on the intersection of life and death
      During the past 20 years few people have changed the conversation about the intersection of life and death more than author Mitch Albom.
      Jane Pauley sits down with the “Tuesdays With Morrie” author for a wide-ranging chat about a life well-lived.

  2. Chicago Ideas
    • Mitch Albom: Making Each Moment Matter
      How will we find happiness and meaning? Author Mitch Albom shares the invaluable life lessons his dying teacher taught him in this behind-the-scenes look at the inspiration behind Albom’s best-selling book “Tuesdays with Morrie

      • YouTube
        • Video #1
          Published On: – 2013-April-16th
  3. Super Soul Sunday
    • Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations – Mitch Albom: The Dying Know the Secrets to a Good Life
      • YouTube
        • Video #1
          Published On: – 2017-Dec-16th
  4. Henry Covington & Mitch Albom
    • Henry Covington
      • Profile
        • Mitch Albom and Henry Covington addressing a crowd in San Jose, CA from
      •  YouTube


  1. Lifetime
    • Have a little faith
      • YouTube
        • Lifetime movie 2017 – Have a Little Faith – Based on a Novel
          • Video #1
            Published On :- 2017-May-19th
          • Video #2
            Published On :- 2017-April-19th




Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

  1. Death doesn’t just take someone, it misses someone else, and in the small distance between being taken and being missed, lives are changed.
  2. Each affects the other, and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.
  3. Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them. They move on. They move away. The moments that used to define them – a mother’s approval, a father’s nod – are covered by moments of their own accomplishments. It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the waters of their lives.
  4. This is the greatest gift God can give you: to understand what happened in your life. To have it explained. It is the peace you have been searching for ― Meniti Bianglala
  5. All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.

Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie

  1. Death ends a life, not a relationship.
  2. Well, for one thing, the culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. We’re teaching the wrong things. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn’t work, don’t buy it. Create your own. Most people can’t do it.
  3. So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.
  4. there are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage: If you don’t respect the other person, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t know how to compromise, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can’t talk openly about what goes on between you, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, you’re gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike.’ – Morrie Schwartz
  5. I give myself a good cry if I need it, but then I concentrate on all good things still in my life.
  6. This is part of what a family is about, not just love. It’s knowing that your family will be there watching out for you. Nothing else will give you that. Not money. Not fame. Not work.
  7. If you’re trying to show off for people at the top, forget it. They will look down on you anyhow. And if you’re trying to show off for people at the bottom, forget it. They will only envy you. Status will get you nowhere. Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between everyone.
  8. You see, you closed your eyes. That was the difference. Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them, too–even when you’re in the dark. Even when you’re falling

Mitch Albom, For one more Day

  1. Have you ever lost someone you love and wanted one more conversation, one more chance to make up for the time when you thought they would be here forever? If so, then you know you can go your whole life collecting days, and none will outweigh the one you wish you had back.


Mitch Albom, Have a Little Faith: a True Story

  1. “When a baby comes into the world, its hands are clenched, right? Like this?” He made a fist. “Why? Because a baby not knowing any better, wants to grab everything, to say the whole world is mine. But when an old person dies, how does he do so? With his hands open. Why? Because he has learned his lesson.” “What lesson?” I asked. He stretched open his empty fingers. “We can take nothing with us.”

Mitch Albom, Have a Little Faith: a True Story

  1. In your acknowledgments,” said Pauley, “you say, ‘Finally and firstly, anything created by my heart or hand is from God, by God, through God, and with God.’ And I think that’s the closest I’ve heard you speak about God yet.”
  2. “In my worldview, it’s not right for me to finish something and not acknowledge that it wasn’t just me and my mind doing it,” said Albom. “Be selfish.”



Mitch Albom on the intersection of life and death

  1. When I began to lose people, I began to see how small I was



Henry Covington & Mitch Albom

  1. Your help is coming from without
  2. Get into a smaller church
    • The Church is too big and too old
    • I know this Church looks is too old and haggard, but that is why we look at God
    • This Church is too big for God to handle
    • God you heard him, now show him
    • Your people needs to know there is reward for trusting him
    • And, shortly after that Mitch and I sat down
    • Second week of October we started working on shingle
    • By December we were down
  3. Aretha Franklin
    • Aretha Franklin sends $5000
    • And, they said Aretha does not donate to anything
  4. 5 Ways God Helped
    • 5 is the Number of Grace
      • Without the race
        • Two men from the West-lands had come down
        • The West-lands had called their friends
        • Pastor Smith and Pastor Darrel
        • You are black, they are white
      • Outside your denomination
        • Originally a Pentecostal
      • Suburb vs city
      • Without the congregation
        • Came from outside of the Church’s Congregation
      • Outside the faith
        • Mitch Albom come from outside the faith
    • My help came

David Mitchell buries latest manuscript for a hundred years



  1. David Mitchell Interview: Stories Have a Number of Beginnings
    Channel :-  Louisiana Channel
    Published Date :- 2015-August-3rd


Question & Answer


  1. David Mitchell Interview: Stories Have a Number of Beginnings
  2. Manuscript for a hundred years
  3. Younger, Stammering Self



David Mitchell Interview: Stories Have a Number of Beginnings

Chart-topping English novelist and “word-nerd” David Mitchell, commended for the novel ‘Cloud Atlas’, here explains why he likes to experiment and strives to avoid repetition: “If my books are my children, then I want them to have distinct personalities.”


Though it can be tempting to push the buttons that made his bestselling novel ‘Cloud Atlas’ (2004) such a success, Mitchell is very aware that repetition can be a cul-de-sac for a writer. He therefore tries to put some space between each of his books and seeks to be “omnivorous” in what he reads and what he writes. Books, he feels, are always evolved from several stem cells: “Stories have a number of beginnings.” Furthermore, Mitchell also attributes some of the success of ‘Cloud Atlas’ to the recklessness of his younger self, who was not afraid of trying something that might fail: “Sometimes your youth and inexperience can be an ally.”


Imagination is extremely important not only for writers, but also for human beings in general, as it “allows us to experiment with our environment without having to pay the physical consequences of that.” For a writer, the imagination also becomes a driving force, which must be processed by being transferred into text: “Writer’s don’t properly grow up. Writers continue to have invisible friends, it’s just that they become more complex and turn into Madame Bovary rather that Casper the Friendly Ghost or Frank the Monster, who lives under your bed.”


Mitchell stammered as a child and as a youth and he sees this as one of the factors that compelled him to write, as it allowed him to feed his “word-nerdery.” The fulfilment of being able to write a nearly perfect and well-crafted sentence is incomparable: “I’m an unreformed word-nerd.”

David Mitchell (b. 1969) is an English novelist. Three of his novels have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize – ‘number9dream’ (2001), ‘Cloud Atlas’ (2004) and ‘The Bone Clocks’ (2014). ‘Cloud Atlas’ was subsequently made into a film (2012). In 2003 Mitchell was selected as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists, and in 2007 he was listed among Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in The World. Mitchell, who in recent years has also written opera libretti, lived several years in Japan but now resides in Ireland with his wife and children.

David Mitchell was interviewed by Kim Skotte at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in August 2014.

Continue reading

Arundhati Roy – Q/A


Arundhati Roy on Fame, Writing and India



You said that you would probably never write another book unless there was another book inside you to write. Is the writing a process to unleash the inner self?

I don’t know. I am a bit suspicious of this kind of personal therapeutic approach to writing. I think it is fine, but then you just have to understand that it is therapy, and literature is something else. Literature is about art and craft and not just about your feelings and your coming out of yourself. No one cares about you except you, whether you come out of yourself or help yourself or don’t help yourself is entirely your business. But literature is about art, about creating something. I’ve always said that amongst great writers there are selfish writers and generous writers; selfish writers leave you with the memory of their brilliance whereas generous writers leave you with the memory of the world that they have evoked. And to me, writing must be an act of generosity, not an act of self-indulgence or therapy. I’m not going to burden the world with what it did for me or didn’t do for me.



Does being recognized by others give you some sort of validity of this process?

No, after all, a story is the simplest way of presenting a complex world. That’s why I am a writer, because I can’t simplify it any further. If I could I would be a politician. I would have slogans, I would have a manifesto. I don’t. Or I would be an architect or whatever. It’s a very internal process trying to make sense of the world to yourself, and when you do that and that eventually becomes something which makes sense to others, too, there is a satisfaction in it. But the fact is that whether it made sense to three people or to three million people, it would have been the same book. I thought my book would be read—if it were really successful— by 3,000 people or 8,000 people. The fact that you can kind of tunnel through the world in this way is wonderful, but also very frightening.



But what you say reverberates throughout the world. It’s the way it is.

It’s like something that you created and it’s no longer yours; my book belongs to the reader now. It’s on its own. I respect the process of writing enough to know that on one hand I was so completely in control of what I was doing that it is mine, but I also know that there is a deep secret and mystery to the process of writing which isn’t mine. So, I don’t have an ego about it. I know however much this book might shake the world, I can’t reproduce it. I don’t think that my next book would do the same thing, if ever there were a next book. It would be just as difficult for me because I am no longer the person who wrote that book. I’m somebody else and I don’t know what that somebody else can or cannot produce. It’s not as if I can stand on this book to do whatever I have to do next. It’s gone from me.


With this computer-aided technology and the way that the word is transforming, what do you see as the evolution of language in the future?

I wrote my book on a computer and I don’t think that I could have written it this way without a computer, because technically it’s like laying a soundtrack. My computer was my memory and I was laying echoes and rhythms, you know? If I had to go through thousands of pieces of paper and insert … theoretically I could have done it, but practically it would have been a less successful attempt. Because in the computer the minute I thought of it, I could summon it up, where I wanted to put what. Whereas if you’re writing by hand, it’s a more tedious process and a lot of your intentions can fall by the wayside. So, in this endeavor, it was much more important than I imagined it would be just because of the way the book is structured.



How do you see the evolution of language itself?

Just a few years ago you had these establishment writers who were accepted as the “big dudes” of literature and they would write books and everyone would go crazy over them. I think that process is going to become much more democratic, because writing is something that so many people are doing. There are so many books and writings from other places now rather than from just what has been perceived to be the center of the universe, Europe and America. People from other places are going to start telling their stories. That’s what I mean by fame is democratic, there are more and more people like me who are going to be first-time writers who have a story to tell and who are heard. So in a way, the stories are going to become more diverse. But then I think also there is going to be a kind of standardization because of this huge global culture that is happening. So the generation after me in India is going to be very different; the children are going to be people who have been brought up on the same things as other children all over the world, on MTV and all of this. It’s going to be very sad, but there is nothing that you can do about it.


In your book you wrote, “Men without curiosity, without doubt. They looked at the world and never wondered how it worked. They knew. They worked it.” In your book you break many taboos. Did breaking the taboos in the book serve as a way of somehow reorganizing this control over our lives?

I think that writers are always two people. I’m one person who lives my life and the other part of me watches me live my life, you know, and that part is the writer who is sort of detached from everything and watches. It doesn’t make you live your own life less passionately, but yet there’s a part of you that is sitting on the ceiling fan and watching it and smiling or whatever. In everything I do or have ever done in my life, I feel anger towards authority, and I’m even frightened of ever having a child because I don’t want authority over that small person. It’s very confusing for me and anyone who is involved with me. Because it’s just this permanent questioning of every little thing, every sentence … I mean, it becomes a wall which is quite tiring sometimes. I suppose often these emotions are awakened in you through whatever you have been through in your childhood and nothing that happens to you as an adult ever quells those questions or those fears or that anger. It will always be there. And yet, I know, that if you were to speak to anybody who knows me they will say, “Oh, she’s so calm.” And the fact is that I am very calm, but that is only in my day-to-day interaction, but I am not at all calm about major issues or major questions, you know. And that’s not a sort of shouting kind of anger that I have, but a very cold anger.


Your constant questioning of authority is very similar to believing that much of what we think, see or believe is filtered through society’s eyes.

I don’t know. I don’t feel like that. I feel the opposite of that. Because as a child I was not wanted or accepted or not needed by anybody in the place I grew up. I never saw things through their eyes at all. Sometimes I wonder why I see things the way I do, because it’s completely the opposite of the way people are conditioned to see things here, especially women. For instance, I sometimes think I am perhaps the only woman in India, maybe the only woman in the world, who never thought about getting married or wanting children. The fact that I am married has nothing to do with wanting to be. That’s why one has this constant questioning of everything. You almost get tired of never having a place to stand, never having the ability to just say, “Yeah, this is how it should be.” It’s all the time saying, “Why this?” and “What does it mean?” and “What should I do?” There is no place to rest. That’s the way it is for me.


In 1955 Colin Wilson wrote a book called The Outsiders, which talked about the psychology, the physiology, the whole state of consciousness of those who have gone outside—Galileo, Copernicus—people who had to constantly remove themselves from this conditioned aspect of society. And I think you could call yourself an outsider. The family in your book as well as your real-life family seem to have lived as outsiders.

I think there are people who are safe and there are people who are not. And if you have been one of those who are not, it doesn’t matter. Like, now, it seems to me that I am safe: I have money and I have this and that. But somehow it makes me feel more precarious than ever. When you say I’m a star and famous … it fills me with panic because I’ve been outside that world and I feel too much anger towards it to want to be their star. In India today, I am being lauded and- hugged by people that repulse me, by this whole generation of Coca-Cola kids, you know, MTV rich brats. For them I am everything that they would like to be: cute, and famous and cool. And I am not. I don’t want that. For instance, they think that looks are everything and they will spend hours having fashion shows and beauty contests. Now, I haven’t ever been to a fashion show or beauty contest in my life. It makes me sick. But in the papers, my photograph will be alongside Miss India or Miss Universe or whatever. That is why that kind of fame doesn’t appeal to me at all. It disgusts me actually. A lot of it has to do with People Magazine saying, you know, we want you to be one of the 50 Most Beautiful Something. And I say, come on, read my book. Can’t you see what I think of that sort of thing?


I wonder what aspects of India you think you represent to the international community?

I will tell you one thing about the West. I always say that you know that someone doesn’t know anything about India the minute you see them striving to understand it. Because those of us who live here have ceased to try. It doesn’t matter. You don’t understand it any more or less than you understand anything else, but you just live in it and get on with it. And this is also true in people’s literature who come from 
here—this kind of all-purpose, multi-talented Indian. You want somebody to hook on to who represents India, but the fact is that I don’t represent India and nobody
represents India and nobody can claim to. I am me. I am not interested in flags and nations. I am not even interested in being the first Indian citizen on a Monday night to have won the Booker Prize. I keep saying I am the first aerobics instructor to have won the Booker Prize. The reason this book has done what it has done is not because it’s Indian, but because it’s universal. What does it matter if an Indian or an Estonian or Albanian wrote it? Only journalists and pundits and critics who are interested in these tags; readers are interested in reading. They are not going to read it because it’s Indian or it’s Albanian. In fact, if you see what happens to books that try and trade on this kind of exotic, ethnic thing, they are just sort of on the margins; they never become mainstream because they are too precious. Of course my book is Indian, because that is the world I know. It doesn’t compromise on its sense of detail, and that detail is Indian, but that is just coincidental. The characters are human and anybody recognizes them.


But there is this big debate in India itself on what is Indian literature …

Exactly, and it’s so puerile. And they’ll say, “Oh, you’re selling India to the West” or “You’re not selling India to the West” or “Is this authentic?” And I say, what do you mean by these words? “Oh, but she uses Elvis Presley so that’s not really Indian.” But what is really Indian? That you sit and chant Vedas in some temple? How do you define Indian? People do strive to inhabit the definition that India has been given by the West. That does happen. But it’s complete nonsense. I keep saying just replace authenticity with honesty.


But do people read your book in India?

It’s incredible what has happened in India because it has just broken through all these barriers of who reads books. A literary book in India usually does not sell. They usually have print runs of 2000, 3000 copies for a normal writer. A big writer, even writers like Rushdie, would sell say 12,000 copies a year. And he’s the biggest Indian writer. And my book has sold, I think, more than any book ever in India. So people are reading it and people get very angry here. If your book doesn’t transcend national borders, if it doesn’t get published anywhere else, then you are a failure, but if it does then you are attacked for it. So there’s always debate about what I have done, and not showing India in the proper light and all of that stuff. But there’s also this negative definition that the West has of India, thinking it is full of poverty—and they only want to hear about poverty and the caste system. But should we not address it because you don’t want to define yourself negatively to the West? You just have to be true to yourself and forget about what others say.


Balzac called fiction the secret history of nations. Do you think that you in a way are writing something that is true, that this is history, this is not just fiction?

I would agree with that. The stories you tell, the fiction you write, is a way of seeing, the world and there are many, many ways of doing this, which is why I hate getting into debates about literary theory. First of all, I am not an academic and secondly, I don’t have any rules—the only rule I have is that there are no rules. So, it’s important that the secret history is written by many people, so that there are conflicting ways of looking at the same thing.


Literature, you once said, is not divided according to language but according to stories, and as a writer you govern language. What is this governing of language?

The context in which I said that was a program on which I appeared with Salman Rushdie. He said in the introduction to his book of the best Indian writers that the only good writing coming out of India was in English and that the writing in regional languages was not worth anything. And a lot of people including me were very upset with that. This is again that claim to represent India and no one language can claim to represent it, no one person, no one culture, no one caste, no one religion, because everything is true about India. I tried to explain to him that there are so many writers in regional languages who are closer to him in many ways than I am. So, you divide literature according to the ways in which you tell stories, not according to the language you use. Then there is this big colonial debate about writing in English. They ask me “Why do you write in English?” And they say, “But your writing is not like any American or British writers.” And I reply, “Naturally I am not American or British. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that because I use English, my thoughts are British.” I govern language; the language is mine to express my thought in. As a writer, it is my medium. You use that medium to do what you want it to do.


You have said that every character is a part of the writer and so sometimes writers play with insanity in a way because the writer is divided into all these different people.

You’re invested in all of them. When people ask me, ‘Is Rahel you or is Ammu you?” I say yes, but so is Baby Kochamma and so is Comrade Pillai. They are not very nice people, but I am not a very nice person.


You wrote a 26-part series on the Indian nationalist movement. Did that politicize you in some way?

I wrote it because I was already political. It didn’t politicize me. I guess I was born that way. A lot of the questions I asked started when I was in architecture school. It was again this thing of asking very basic questions. “Why should you tell me that this building is not as good as that building when everything about it technically works? Who are you to mark my sense of aesthetics?” In my fourth year I designed this multi-story building which in plan looked like a frog, but everything worked, the parking, the structure, everything…. it was just saying it is none of your business what it looks like. It was asking the basic question of who decides, who is this divine committee? I just want to know, because these are all ways of being powerful. And then in my fifth year, in my architecture thesis called “Post-Colonial Urban Development in Delhi,” I showed how basically architects manipulate space in a city to exclude various kinds of populations which are not supposed to be present there because they are too poor or too dirty or too whatever. And it becomes a very radical questioning then of who are the people in the city who claim to own it and who don’t and why. And then, of course, it begins to become an aesthetic questioning, too. I keep saying that one of the reasons I’m a successful writer is because I am a completely failed architect. I don’t know what kind of architect I could ever have been because I don’t know how to choose my aesthetics. The line has been interfered with so much that I don’t know how to make those decisions any more as to what kind of building I would like to design.




Do you think that there is something about your formative years that prepared you for this position in life? Where is your grounding now?

Everything that happens to you, even when it seems dark and terrible when it’s happening to you, you can learn from. And I think I have learned from everything that has happened to me. And I continue to learn from everything that happens to me. If I had not been who I was and I had not been through the experiences I have been through, I would have been killed off. I would not have known how to handle it. I would have thought, “It is all so wonderful and it’s so sweet and everybody loves me and I’m so famous.” But I know what the whole thing is about. I have seen the other side too much to be able to just accept this joyfully. That’s the greatest piece of good fortune that I have had. Just two years before this happened to me I was totally on the other side of the fence, because of a huge debate I had about a film called Bandit Queen, and I wrote this series of articles called “The Great Indian Rape Trick.” And all the beautiful people denounced me. The invective and the things that they said about me in the press were terrible. So, this is almost ridiculous. It just makes me laugh because it confirms my opinion of them. When I was going through it, it was traumatic. It was a complete and direct attack on my self-esteem and it was very hard to take at the time.


What happened with the lawsuit pending against you? You are being castigated for having writtenabout an upper caste woman who has an affair with an untouchable.

The two guys who have filed this case are just not representative of what is happening in this country with the book. Much as I would like to portray myself as a writer who is being hunted down, I am not. The lawsuit is a terrible pain to have to deal with, but I am quite sure that it has been brought to harass me. I will handle it by myself because the courts are not as regressive as people think they are. I am sure that the case will be thrown out. But the courts take so long and it will go on and on. When you live in India you know that India lives in several centuries simultaneously and they are all at war with each other in a sense. There is nothing you can do that is of any importance that will not end up in some kind of trouble or controversy. And this is the fallout of literature. It has created so much debate in Kerala. Some condemn me, some praise me, but that’s what literature is all about. It’s not about winning the Booker Prize and wearing nice clothes and feeling famous. Literature is about touching people’s lives. It is absurd in a way, but absurdity also suggests surprise and this reaction doesn’t surprise me. People get angrier with the same book when it wins the Booker Prize. It’s as if the text changes the bigger the book becomes. Those who filed the case against me also happen to be lawyers, and they want some publicity. It’s so easy. Just put a finger on The God of Small Things and you’re in the New York Times.



What is the god of small things? One critic wrote that social propriety is the novel’s victor. The deity of love and happiness loses out in the end. Is social propriety the god of small things?

That’s perhaps exactly the opposite of what I think. But a lot of people have this simplistic reading where they say, “Oh, anybody who breaks the love law suffers, so what you’re saying actually is that you shouldn’t break the laws.” That kind of simplistic reading of crime and punishment is nonsense. The god of small things is the inversion of what god means; it’s the god of loss. Take the way the novel is structured. The structure ambushes the story in that it begins at the end and it ends in the middle. And it tells you that, of course, the consequences of what happened were terrible, but the fact that they happened at all were wonderful. That’s what I mean when I say that the novel belongs to everybody. I don’t really want to legislate what people should make of it because it’s their book to think what they want. But certainly it’s not what I would have hoped that somebody would draw from it.



You had also said that the book is more a biological description of who we are and what we become.

It’s more about biology than history. It’s about how human society since the dawn of time divided itself into different bits and made war over those divisions and made love over those divisions. There are always those who make the laws and always those who argue against them. It’s about how history negotiates its terms and collects its dues from those who break its laws. I think what happens in the West is that people ask these very simplistic questions: “Are you a pessimist or an optimist?” To me that’s a joke because I am both. You see tragedy in comedy and you see happiness in sorrow, you see everything in everything and that is part of the process of living. So, in my book there is horrible sorrow but there is also the most delicate happiness. I can’t ever offer you one emotion. The only time you see that is in sport, which is why one loves sport; you see such simple feelings there and it is so outside of life. It’s not war, but it’s the joy of winning or the sorrow of losing. It just simplifies things. Therefore, it’s beautiful in a way. In my book I never offer you one emotion at any given point of time. Never. It is the simplest way of presenting a complex thing and it cannot be further simplified.



You are talking of emotionalism and I am talking about biology.

Well, biology in that sense for me is something that I feel when I am in Kerala. The intricacies of these social divisions have suppressed biology to the extent that in Kerala you see physically beautiful people who are trapped in their sociology for reasons that you cannot even begin to comprehend. So, in my book, I address this question directly. When Velutha looks at Ammu, I wrote,”… history struck out and for the first time he saw that she was a woman.” You see the most beautiful men there bare-bodied because of the climate, and yet I know that people don’t look at them as men; they only see them as Paravans, untouchables. And it has always been unbelievable to me that you could have annulled your own biology to that extent.



It seems that biology is no longer biology. It becomes sociology but biology is the real rhythm of our lives.

Exactly. But I have not had the courage to translate my book into Malayalam because I know what a radical thing it is. And I have not had the courage because the people who will have to take the consequences of that are my family who live there, and I don’t feel that I have the right to do that to them. Because it will be amazing what will happen. People will read my book in Kerala and they will say, “Oh, this is wonderful but, of course, that bit about the Paravan, you must have put it there as a joke. You know that it is not possible that a Syrian Christian woman would do this.” Somebody told me that it is not possible for a Paravan to perform sexually with a Syrian Christian woman, because he would be so terrified. They will take what they want from the book and reject the rest because they don’t want to face it.


What does this say about your own biology? You said before that you don’t want children and that you never thought of getting married? But you do have children, even though you are not their birth mother, you have been their mother.

Actually it locks right into what I am saying. Because looking after children who are not yours is different. They’re already in the world and you can do what you can for them. But I can’t make that decision to bring somebody into the world. I also never had the complete responsibility of how to bring them up because my husband’s parents were there and I was a little 21-year-old rat. They were a big family and they forced the children to go to a big school and all of that. It wasn’t my decision. It was only a question of doing what one could. I didn’t start out as the person who had to make decisions, but it was bad because I didn’t agree with all the decisions that were made.


But you have become a married woman. Has this changed you?

I don’t know. I lived with him for ten years before we got married and so the terms and conditions were clarified before anything happened. One thing is that I am paranoid about being trapped. The door has to be open, otherwise I’ll just leave through the window. If it is open I might stay.


You said that the writer is like a child . . .

You move between worlds that are perceived to be real and worlds that are supposed to be imaginary without acknowledging the boundaries. That’s why I guess madness lurks so close by. It’s just being curious, isn’t it? Curious and non-judgmental; being able to experience something without clamping down on it. I really don’t want to make any claims for writers as a group. I am speaking for myself. I don’t think most writers are like that. I think most are just the opposite — very old and tired people.



It took you almost five years to write this book, sitting in front of your computer everyday. So, there seems to be a balance between being a disciplined human being and maintaining this open, child’s perspective.

As I said, it’s like sculpting smoke. First you have to generate it and then you have to sculpt it because I don’t believe in this “I wrote my book in one week” kind of approach. Something that lives with you over the years is something important; it is something that stands the test of your growing. It isn’t that I didn’t change in five years. It’s just that it still worked for me. I am manically disciplined when I work, in that sense, because it is something that you are giving and you don’t want to give a half-hearted offering. If you are doing it, do it properly.



What about the physiological process of creating? You do aerobics. Is there an integration between the physiological discipline and the creative discipline?

Absolutely, I am just as disciplined about not working as I am about working. Really for me, the idea of doing nothing or enjoying myself is just as important. It’s important to not become somebody who really takes oneself too seriously. And doing exercise and being in touch with my body is something that I really value. I feel quite stupid about it sometimes but I also think it is important to feel stupid. It’s important to think, “Gosh, this looks ridiculous.” But it really makes me happy to do that; to be a person who is physical. It’s exactly the same kind of discipline that you need to write a book. It’s like if I cook and I wash up, nobody has told me but I just have to make sure that every last thing is clean. All of these things matter. I might tell my daughter a million times that how you clean the dishes affects other aspects of your life, including how you write. But it doesn’t matter to her; she can’t see. And I feel bad to go on about it. I don’t want to become some kind of nag about cleaning the sink. I’ll clean it. But for me it’s just that sense of completeness. It is not some great virtue, it’s just the way it is for me.


But it is that same element as you say.

Exactly. I’ve taught at a gym for years. I started doing aerobics and I wanted to be good enough to become an instructor, so I became an instructor. It’s not something to boast about. You’re just doing it for your own satisfaction. And if someone else wants to go to the gym to lose weight because she has to go to a party, that’s okay. I don’t want to be judgmental about it. Maybe I am lucky to be like that; to have a sense of discomfort if something is not done with concentration and discipline.

Frank Schaeffer – “You won Mom. I believe”.



A few years ago, I heard Ravi Zacharias speak on the Schaffer family.

To paraphrase he said “though Francis Schaeffer is the the Apologist in the family, it was his mother, Edith’s love, that finally wore Frank down“.

Ravi made sure to say the column appeared in a liberal news outlet, Huffington Post.


Edith Schaeffer 1914 – 2013 RIP

My mother Edith Schaeffer died today. She was the author of many books on family life and spirituality and co-founder with my father Francis Schaeffer of the evangelical ministry of L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. She has just gone to be with the Lord, as she would put it. She died at home which was her wish.

I last talked to Mom yesterday. Rather she slept as I talked. A few days before my granddaughter Lucy was on my lap and we were talking to Mom via Skype. That day she was awake.

Mom’s face filled the screen and she was looking at us on the laptop placed on the covers of her bed. I last had been with her in person two years ago when I’d spent ten days with her. Before she was bedridden (about four months ago) we’d talk on the phone and after that we’d Skype.

I’ve been talking to her every day for the last several weeks knowing she was slipping away. Since I care for my two youngest grandchildren, Lucy (4) and Jack (2) five days a week they have often been there when “Noni,” as her grandchildren and great-grandchildren called Mom was on the screen with us.

During one of the last calls when Lucy and I talked to her last week, Mom was beautiful with her silver hair in a ponytail and her red hair band and matching shawl. Trapped in a body she’d lost control of, it took all of her formidable willpower to acknowledge our love. She had a feeding tube in her nose and was slipping in and out of consciousness. Five minutes after we hung up she would not remember the conversation. But in the moment when I said “I love you,” she nodded back and was fully aware.

Mom was staring earnestly into the laptop screen her nurse had set up so we could talk via Skype. My four year old granddaughter Lucy whispered “Does she have her perfume on?”

“Your great grandmother always wears perfume. So I bet she does,” I answered.

I kept reminding Mom of who we were, speaking rather slowly and loudly, “This is your son, Frank, and I have my four year old granddaughter, Lucy, on my lap. Can you see her Mom? This is John’s daughter. John was our Marine. Remember praying for his safe return from Afghanistan? God answered your prayers, Mom. Say hi to your great-granddaughter Mom.”

When I asked if she knew we loved her, Mom acknowledged us with a slight nod and whispered “Yes.” Those turned out to be her last spoken words to me.

Mother was three thousand miles away in Switzerland. We were in Massachusetts. She was ninety-eight and dying. Lucy is four years old and thriving. We were in my home in the studio/office I’d built out of the old woodshed. We were surrounded by piles of manuscripts including, a stack four feet high of the twenty-three drafts of a new novel I’m working on. Lucy had your feet up on the top of the pile. My paintings were leaning in deep clusters against the walls and were hanging on every surface. The ubiquitous smell of turpentine and linseed oil was in the air. Mom had always loved that smell. When I was a kid she’d walk into my room, breathe deeply and say “I just LOVE the smell of paintings!”

Before that day’s Skype chat with Mom, Lucy and I had been conducting imaginary orchestras while listening to Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto in G, full volume. Lucy launched an impromptu recitation of the Twenty Third Psalm, saying it all the way through. We’d also been looking at the weird and wonderful art of Pieter Brueghel the Elder and Lucy and Jack loved his pictures of sixteenth century peasants, beggars, and his apocalyptic fantasies. So even though Lucy and had never met my mother and were like ships passing in the night we were actually having a very Edith Schaeffer day.

Mom’s great-grandchildren were growing up loving what she’d loved: words, art, music, gardening, cooking and playacting. Mom was unable to speak any longer but she was nevertheless communicating with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren every time they were read to, listened to music or when we painted together.

Since she couldn’t talk I read to Mom and Lucy out loud from one of her own books: Mei Fuh – Memories from China. My grandchildren love the book. Lucy knows it almost by heart.

As usual we had to skip the “sad part” Lucy never let me read, about how Adjipah the gardener ate Mom’s goldfish. Mei Fuh was the last of many books Mom authored and her one and only children’s book. Mom had been born to missionary parents in 1914 and the book was about her growing up in a missionary compound until she moved back to America at age six.

During the last Skype call Lucy made last week she asked Mom if she was “still upset about Adjipah eating your fish?” Mom tried to smile but with her teeth out and the tube taped to her nose her smile showed up in her eyes and not so much on her lips.

I felt bad that Lucy was seeing Mom at her most vulnerable to the ravages of age. So while we talked to Mom, I opened an album of pictures of her and whispered, “See how beautiful your great-grandmother really is? Look!”

Lucy nodded and said loudly to the screen “You’re beautiful, Noni!”

Mom heard Lucy and moved slightly and managed of a hint of a crumpled smile. Then Lucy said in a loud awed whisper,

“She heard me! She nodded! She smiled!”

I placed my hand on the laptop screen and showed Lucy that when the lower part of her face was hidden from the bridge of her nose up to her eyes and silver hair, Mom still looked like the lovely pictures in the album.

From time to time I’d ask, “Mom, do you remember that?” about this or that detail of her childhood and she’d open her eyes a bit wider to signal that she did remember. Any mention of her early years that got the biggest response. The neural pathways were shutting down and the last remaining seemed to be the memories of her life as a young child. The little girl who had once been Mom was looking at us through a thicket of memory loss and confusion. I reminded her of the five week trip she took back to China with my wife Genie when Mom was in her eighties. In the early 1990s they’d traveled for 5 weeks to Mom’s birthplace in Wenchow, on the coast of southern China.

Amazingly, given the communist “remake” of China and the destruction of everything old and beautiful that blocked “progress,” Genie and Mom found the mission compound still as it once was. Mom was welcomed by the people living in her old home and that allowed to wander through the buildings. Genie said that Mom remembered everything from the dusty courtyard where she had played, to the thick gate with the little barred window she used to look through while wishing that she could go into the street and join the passing processions during festivals.

I knew that each Skype call might be the last time I’d see my mother alive. So each time we talked I thanked Mom for her love and the terrific creativity she’d shown in how she raised her children. Reading Mom her book reminded me of the many hours my mother had read so many wonderful books to me out loud. She was such a glorious reader.

After about half an hour of sitting on my lap watching Mom sleep, wake and sleep again as I read to her, Lucy went to my easel and painted. A few minutes later she cheerfully called out to the screen; “This is a painting for you Noni! I’ll give it to you in heaven since you’re going to die before I see you.” Lucy said this very matter of factly with no fear, as if she was mentioning that she’d soon be seeing her great-grandmother someplace very ordinary. I don’t think she heard Lucy, but if she did, Mom would have liked what she said because my mother was nothing if not a believer in a literal heaven.

When the two hours or so we spent with Mom concluded Lucy was sitting up on a high stool in the kitchen while I was putting on her boots for the walk back to Lucy’s house.

“I’m so sad my mother is going to die soon, “ I said.

“You will be alright Ba,” Lucy said.

“How?” I asked.

“You have me,” she quietly answered and put her arms around me.

I trust my mother’s hope-filled view of death because of the way Mom lived her life. Mom first introduced me to a non-retributive loving Lord who did not come to “die for us” to “satisfy” an angry God but came as a friend who ended all cycles of retribution and violence.

Mom made this introduction to Jesus through her life example. Mom was a wonderful paradox: an evangelical conservative fundamentalist who treated people as if she was an all-forgiving progressive liberal of the most tolerant variety.

Mom’s daily life was a rebuke and contradiction to people who see everything as black and white. Liberals and secularists alike who make smug disparaging declarations about “all those evangelicals” would see their fondest prejudices founder upon the reality of my mother’s compassion, cultural literacy and loving energy.

Just before Christmas of 2010, Mom and I sat down together during a ten day visit and I told her about my (then) latest writing project that turned out to be “Sex, Mom and God” (the third in a trilogy of memoirs that began with “Crazy For God.”) I told her about the book in detail—including that I was going to “tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may, Mom.”

With a flash of her old self and a familiar defiant head toss, Mom said, “Go ahead; I don’t care what people ‘think’ and never did!” Given her memory problem, I should add that before it developed and before her eyesight failed, she read my other equally “scandalous” writing, including my novels and nonfiction works, which also drew heavily from memories that to some people might have seemed too private to share.

Mom wasn’t “some people.” I once got a letter from one of my mother’s followers telling me that, having just read my novel Portofino (a work of humor where the mother character, “Elsa Becker,” is like my mother in some ways), she was sure it would “kill your mother because of the hatred for Jesus that drips from your SATANIC pen!” Coincidentally, that fan letter (received in the early 1990s before I was using e-mail) arrived in the same post delivery as a note from Mom asking me for another dozen signed hardcover copies of that book so that my mother could send out more to her friends. Mom’s follower had signed her letter “Repent!” My mother signed her note “I’m so proud of you.”

Besides a loving God and her steadfast support for the arts — even when she disagreed with some of my writing — here’s who else my mother introduced me to: Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Haydn, Brahms, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Handel, Schumann, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Debussy, Verdi and Vivaldi. She made them my friends. They are still my friends and companions and I have made them my children’s and grandchildren’s friends too. And that is my tribute to her example.

Here are some other people amongst others my mother taught me to love: da Vinci, Duccio, Giotto, Vermeer, Degas, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Van Eyck, Van Gogh, Botticelli, Breughel, Michelangelo and Monet. They are still my friends and companions and I have made them my children’s and grandchildren’s friends too. And that is my tribute to her example.

My mother read to me and introduced me to Shakespeare, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, Anne Bronte, Susan Fennimore Cooper, Emily Dickinson, George Eliot, Mary Shelley, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Beatrix Potter, E. Nesbit, Louis Carroll and A. A. Milne and… Woody Allen, amongst others. They are still my friends and companions and I have made them my children’s and grandchildren’s friends too. And that is my tribute to her example.

Here’s what my mother showed me how to do by example: forgive, ask for forgiveness, cook, paint, build, garden, draw, read, keep house well, travel, love Italy, love God, love New York City, love Shakespeare, love Dickens, love Steinbeck, love Jesus, love silence, love people more than things, love community and put career and money last in my hierarchy of values and — above all, to love beauty. I still follow my mother’s example as best I can and I have passed and am passing her life gift to my children and grandchildren not just in words but in meals cooked, gardens kept, houses built, promises kept, sacrifices made, and beauty pointed to.

My mother read me hundreds of books out loud, took me everywhere with her, provided order and beauty for her children from the mundane like scrubbing floors spotless on her knees and keeping our home orderly and clean, even when she had “no time” and was writing her book, to serving every meal I ever ate at home as a child with candles and flowers on the table and making the simplest family time an event. (Thank God we had no TV and Mom wasn’t ever distracted by a cell phone or the internet from being a mother and of course her children were allowed to connect with the actual physical world hands on because we were lucky enough to grow up in the pre internet/electronic filtered age of false second hand “experiences.”)

Mother taught me that sex is good, stood by me and my young wife Genie when we were foolish and got pregnant as mere (very unmarried) children ourselves, backed every venture I launched from movie making, to being an artist and writer, stood with me when I dropped out of the evangelical religion altogether, stuck with me even when I denied her politics and turned “left” and “went progressive.”

Mom spent every dime she had on keeping her family together through family reunions and setting her example of putting family first. She stood with her sometimes abusive husband as he became famous in the American evangelical ghetto, though she well knew that she was the stronger partner in her always productive, sometimes lovely though at other times disastrous marriage.

Mom treated everyone she ever met well, spent more time talking to “nobodies” than to the rich and famous who flocked to her after her books were published and became bestsellers. Put it this way: through my experience of being a father (of 3) and grandfather (of 4) I’ve finally been able to test Mom’s life wisdom and spiritual outlook and found out that she was right: Love, Continuity, Beauty, Forgiveness, Art, Life and loving a loving all-forgiving God really are the only things that matter.

Each time I pick up my little grandchildren (or hug Genie’s and my grownup grandkids) and pray for wisdom about how to pass on the best of what I was given I know it is my mother’s example speaking to me. I never go to a classical concert or walk into a museum without remembering how Mom saved her money to take her children to hear the great music played by the great performers and helped me to learn that creativity trumps death.

I never say “I love you” to my wife Genie, to my children Jessica, Francis and John or to my son-in-law Dani or daughter-in-law Becky, let alone to my grandchildren Amanda, Benjamin, Lucy and Jack without remembering who showed me what those words mean.

Mother was a force to be reckoned with, a whole energetic universe contained in one trim little female frame, and she used that force entirely for good.


Mother in the garden at dawn weeding and watering her wonderful flowers and vegetables… Mother typing up a storm while writing her thousands of letters and dozens of books… Mother so pleased that her good friend Betty Ford invited her to the White House to swim laps with her in the White House pool… Mother so please she’d met BB King at one of his concerts when she was 91… Mother praying with me every night before turning out the light as she let me in on her best secret: the universe is not a hard cold lonely meaningless place but a cosmos full of love… Mother never making a sarcastic remark about her children or anyone else and the life-long self-confidence that gave me… Mother deep in conversation with cab drivers and giving her books away (and money, personal phone numbers and her home address) to hotel maids and other total strangers she decided she could help… Mother taking impractical detours to look at something lovely… Mother always late for everything and praying out loud over meals long, so long, at table as she forgot that for the rest of us prayer was mostly a ritual though for her it was an endless conversation with the eternal… Mother cleaning up my vomit after I took drugs as a young wayward teen and then fixing me poached eggs on toast as if I was 3 again… Mother buying me art supplies… Mother’s horror at the “harshness” as she put it, of so many evangelical religious people and the way they treated “the lost” and her saying that “no wonder no one wants to be a Christian if that’s how we treat people!”

Maybe everything has changed for me theologically but some things haven’t changed. I’m still thinking of Mom’s eternal life in her terms because she showed me the way to that hope through her humane consistency and won. Her example defeated my cynicism.

Mom understood me and tried to speak when I said my last “I love you.”

I knew what she was trying to say. It’s the phrase she spoke most to me over my 60 year journey on this earth so far. I answered her thought, and I said, “Thank you, I know you love me and I love you too Mom.” The day before Mom died my last words to her were “I want you to know your prayers for your family have been answered. I credit every moment of joy to your prayers.”

I’ll miss her voice. I learned to trust that voice because of the life witness that backed it up. I know I’ll hear her voice again. You won Mom. I believe.


Listening to …

Beautiful Message By Nabeel Qureshi (Defense of Christianity)