tv 2016 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books CSPAN April 10, 2016 6:00am-7:01am EDT
prevent crime and arrest people for committing crimes. they are about control. and that is why we have 5% of the world's5 percent of the worlds population and 25 pee in the world who are incarcerated. >> the book is called blue. this is live coverage of the 21st annual los angeles times festival of books. anotheranother author panel live today command he will take you into newman all. this is a panel on war.
live coverage. >> good afternoon. welcome. i have a couple announcements. please turn off your cell phones. just a note, there will be assigning and area one. and then finally you are not supposed to make personal recordings. okay. pleased to be with you today and to be part of this lovely annual event. my 10th festival of books. i am pleased to be able to help guide the discussion with these authors.
they are very different books. to our nonfiction and one is a novel. two explorations of family and personal history. still, as i had the opportunity to read them all we do have some things in common. written by americans. protagonists that are not. the work work is set against the backdrop of war. the hundred year walk chronicles the armenian genocide. guests at the shooters banquet unfolds. and the sympathizer tells the story of the war during and after america's involvement. this is the 1st book in their genre. they are working here in new
forms great success. go for 35 or 40 minutes. i will i will turn it over to you. i prefer that you ask a question. i know the temptation. wewe are here to hear from these folks today. with that said let's start with you. had youyou. have you come to write her grandfather story and why? >> began with a conversation between myself and my mother almost seven years ago. my father so the family is jewish. my mother side's 1st generation with the when you catholic. i had grown up with the knowledge my lithuanian catholic grandfather who i had known and loved was a hero.
he fought against the soviet incursion and had managed to throw his children literally in a horse and wagon with the world was ending in lithuania was collapsing and take them to safety. they ended up on a hilltop in bavaria. later there were a camp. obviously there was more to his wartime life. the experience of having a daughter myself in wanting to know more for perhaps that has something to do with it. i asked my mom the obvious question. she said, well, he was a policeman.
i said for the ss? and she said yes. i will say that i was appalled that it took me that long to ask that question, but we all have experiences were there are things we know we want to ask. it takes a long time and sometimes we don't ever get to that place. i came to find out my grandfather was not just a policeman. lithuania, the most notorious collaborative force in the country and some of you may know 95 percent of the jewish population were exterminated at the hands of lithuanian collaborators. that conversation is how my book began. >> there is also a family story.
>> very similar. the hundred year walk is based on my grandfather's survival of the armenian genocide. the story i have heard about since i can remember. my mother would tell me what happened to her father. but as a child i could not understand it sucks crossing the desert and being so thursday they had to drink his own urine. as a child what can you understand about that? it sounded really gross. your kid. i did not understand it. i truly did not understand what happened to my grandfather until about ten years ago. the relative translated his journal from armenian and
the english. i can finally read his account. since he died when i was a kid it was almost as if i was reading someone else's story. i cannot believe this endangered protagonist was my own grandfather, and then it hit me that if he didn't get out of this situation my whole family line wouldn't be here. and so my grandfather thought he survived in order to tell his story. that became a responsibility for me. my book alternates between world war i and is all based on my grandfather's journals. we found more once i started to look into this. you follow him from when he is just a young man building a new business, very successful and in the war breaks out and he is
conscripted into the turkish army in the labor battalion and the deportation order happens in the ends up being pushed farther and farther east across modern-day turkey and syria to eastern syria. everyone is dying or being killed. so the hundred year walk follows his journey and then almost a hundred years later i retrace his steps from his home outside present-day to eastern syria. >> fascinating. to you next. i gather you have written more about it. why a novel? >> my earliest memories i came when i was four years old and my 1st memory was being taken away from my parents and give it away because that was the only
way to leave the refugee. that has stayed with me, the idea that and i don't remember the war myself it has been imprinted on me like an invisible brand stand between my shoulder blades. they survived for decades of war and famine and terrible things. they exuded the force of that memory through their actions and feelings and so did everyone else in the vietnamese-american refugee community i grew up in. and as american board growing up i was cognizant of the fact that the vietnam war was very important to the vietnamese american refugee community and the american community as a whole. america's only saw one side of the story, apocalypse now, for example. and so why a novel? >> very uninteresting frankly. the novel is my revenge on hollywood, francis ford coppola. let us to tell the history
of the vietnam war in a perspective that most americans have never heard of before which is how their own allies and south vietnamese experience this. giving us the communist perspective on it and when he writes in the united states is giving us theirthe view point of how the vietnamese see american culture which is not necessarily in a positive light. as they think about what white culture looks like, but i think the topic has been hard to exhaust for me which is why had to write a nonfiction book about it, nothing ever dies, vietnam and the memory of work, much larger context, 100 years of american war waged in the pacific since 1898, puerto rico, guam, hawaii, iraq and
afghanistan as an extension of a century of armed american campaign which is why neededi needed to turn the nonfiction. i cannot say those things in a novel. >> question i have for you is whether your experience writing the novel that anything to reform your sense of the vietnam war in any way. >> definitely so. i wrote the novel to criticize everybody. there is something for everybody to dislike. he criticizes the communists, south vietnamese, the vietnamese, the americans. the theme of the novelist sympathy for the sympathizer. the easiest thing to do is to sympathize only with our side. and the virtue and the flaw of my character is that he sympathizes with everybody which makes them a great spy and will lead to his downfall but is also what i learned. piece and reconciliation and things like that requires
the expansion of sympathy beyond our own community to a much larger human community. >> a $64,000 question of this gathering. what is it that is so compelling about ward you think? makes it such a dominant part of our narrative, cinema, literature. >> i think it is a large question, but i will say a few things about it. as was said so eloquently, if you grow up in a family that has been touched deeply by war, you know, in my case on the jewish side of my family and the lithuanian catholic side, my mother's mother was swept up in stalin's purges when my mom was a years old. still instill in lithuania. sheldon account cart, tortured and lubyanka
prison, banished to a prison labor camp in the gulags and presumed dead. that was a part of my mom's experience. however i understood or didn't understand it, it became part of the underpinning that i grew up with. i grew up in a household where war whether was discussed are not was present always. so as i got older and became a writer, that was something that interested me. how does more impact generations after? beyond that in the course of writing this book which allowed me to morph into investigative journalism and do a lot more history, writing, research than i ever thought thought i would, my notion of history itself really changed and i have come to see it as a fluid entity. what we think of as historical truth is hopefully always changing
and expanding by virtue of people writing, rewriting, revising, revisiting comeau one of the things that contradicts that is ever present in my mind, we all no that there are survivors of different kinds of wartime experiences, not just the holocaust were reaching the ends of their lives. they will not be here for us to glean firsthand testimony from. what then will i history become? i don't think that we have yet even begun to explore all the ways in which historical consciousness can grow and enriches and enrich us beyond the feel of literary nonfiction but into a kind of worldview.
i had a soapbox. >> let me ask a slightly different version. one of the things i noticed, they take place in wars but on the periphery in a certain kind of way. your book begins were most end with the departure of americans from vietnam. similarly you are writing about world war i but not in what we generally think of is the heart of the action in europe. is there something special about the periphery of war? >> for me i wanted to tell the story of what happened to the armenians during world war i, war is often used as a cover for so many crimes, the holocaust, pick your war or atrocity. for me i wanted to tell the story of what happened to a million and a half armenians
through the lives of my family because 1st of all my grandfather's story and many people don't know. it know. it was important for me to tell what happened. i just think that for people who may not be interested in the armenian genocide, i want to learn about genocide. >> i justi just thought if you can learn about it for my grandfather you see that
in my grandfather story and the incredible courage that comes out when people are in these situations and just overcoming all odds to keep trying to live and for my grandfather it's timeless. he wants to get home to his family. look at war, look at what is happening on the periphery, look at it through the lens of a person and you can connect more. >> is going to ask you, this is much more personal. and yet the politics of genocide, the notion of denial is present even today , how do you analyze that? >> it haunts just the words. i have tried to stay away from it as much as possible.
i do want it to be recognized. my whole point for telling the story and writing the story is to educate others about what has happened and they can just read. i don't read armenian. i am probably going to mangle some names. for me i just wanted people to learn. so if you look, i really didn't -- contested. the must not be a lot of information about it. however shocked as a reporter. look at the newspaper of the time. look at the new york times and you will see that it was chronicled. so anyway -- >> and yet it disappeared
off of our consciousness. >> absolutely. the politics is the hardest part. we just want to heal. we don't want to have to stand around and demand. we just want our families and what happened to be recognized so that we can heal. >> i have been preparing for today and read a talk to you delivered last fall in which he said i realize some things are so nasty the writer should simply show them as they are. how is that idea expressing itself? >> i remember reading this book at 12 or12 or 13, too young to be reading more novels. there was a scene in that book that i could never forget. i turn to that book and reread the scene. showing all the ugliness that happened.
and become a killer within the space of ten pages and herrapists in the space bar hundred and 50 pages. did not step in and editorialize until the reader this is wrong. he simply show it to us. and when it came to writing my own novel i realize that's what i have to do. i can't give the reader the comfort of saying this is writing this is wrong. i show what i think of as the full expression of humanity. go back to your earlier questions. it is not because war is something that takes place done by other people over there. what takes place and keeps perpetuating because it is done by us. that is what fiction should reveal.
that is what i needed to do in the novel, reach a moment where readers are forced to do something that no one wants to see. :-) forced to recall and we are forced to experience that with him. if we are uncomfortable that is the way that it should be. >> rape and torture. and it seems to be endemic. any thoughts on why that is? all vestiges of civilization. >> more puts everybody into extremity. the whole idea that the inhuman already exists within us. or breaks down boundaries. people are being sent off and say you are doing this for patriotic cause and then all these terrible things happen.
no one wants to remember the terrible things. when we tell walk -- told war stories we don't tell the war stories about the fact that our sons, brothers, husbands did things that they would not want to talk about it all. and it is incredibly uncomfortable to acknowledge the possibility that your relative might have done something inhuman. because we can't acknowledge it in public it keeps coming back up and becomes territory for historians and novelists to keep reminding us of something we should not need to be reminded of. >> one of the things i talk about in my book really resistant to the term monster, talking about my grandfather other people whose participation in atrocity i learned about other firsthand or from
pretty rigorous process of documentation. i went documentation. i went to eastern europe many times and was fortunate to collect a lot of testimonies around some of the worst crimes that included rape and humiliation that for some people were almost as bad as death. bob read from the person that they then were going to walk over. and so the question, question,question, how could this possibly happen, but it. analyzing will broaden the do what he did basically
should the skin of a person who stood at a pit where a thousand men, women command children were shot, the interior of the jewish cemetery 1,000 noncombatants guilty of nothing lined up and shot and then they come to the us to go to new jersey and become a tile inspector, how does that happen? how to someone walk out of that life and walk into another? and for me the most important lesson is that it can happen. and we all think of ourselves as being beyond anything under any kind of dress to do horrible things. read about and see movies about and studied. i'm not suggesting that we could all do my grandfather did.
humanity is a broad term.a broad term. and we don't do ourselves any favors by limiting it. i thinki think a lot more needs to be learned and investigated. we have all been reading in the papers there is an attempt to figure out how young men are recruited. what draws them to do the horrible things that they do. people are basking for years what led his collaborators then the level of the germans were not nazis, have always been anti- somatic the lived next to jews for years. what happened that allowed suddenly that population to galvanize so viciously against the jews until 95 percent of the jewish
population was gone? >> let me follow up. as you come away from this experience to come to the conclusion or is there something very specific? >> i don't think anyone that kind of crime. i have done work around scarcity of resources. when water becomes a scarce commodity, very scarce commodity it will be become then? we may not dig a pit? there are degrees of humanity that we can slowly
lose depending on the situation. >> it's about dehumanizing group. so world war i, the armenians. world war ii with the holocaust to wander. and when you declare them as other it almost separates. you see it happening now. you see it now with what is happening with muslims being declared as other and dangerous where many people are branding a whole group. and so you just see it happen over and over.
>> so by the time came to write this book research about the war itself. to set pieces the liberation follow the city i wanted to put the reader in to the perilous situation that they found themselves in as there are fighting to get on board the last airplane about. yet if he cited research rose the making of an effective american movie about the vietnam war john the philippines that my narrator ends of being a consultant for. you know, there is black comedy in the book revolving
around the fact that he goes and makes the movie. at the same time as the movie is being shot all of the so-called boat people have come from vietnam to the philippines and are living in refugee camps to perform as vietcong people, soldiers in the movie. i have fled from communism, survived the journey and are you to play the people who persecute them in the 1st place in order to be killed by american soldiers on screen. i needed to get the details right, and in doing the research i discovered i could not make up this stuff. in a sense reality that exceed my imagination. >> it does not come off well. >> and neither order, i am curious, do you feel a sense
of responsibility? more heroic, but i wonder whether you take pride a responsibility, how does your perception of your grandfather affect your sense of yourself? >> i will let you. >> i guess i see myself, my family differently, mother's story of coming year as a child from turkey. since i have learned more about the book: more about the effects of war and the effexor my family and how my grandfather was so traumatized. i used to tell my mother every year that she would die the next year. the next year would roll around and he would say it to her again. they were incredibly poor when they came here.
and i just understand my mother more. i understand my family and their struggle. ii understand also the legacy that has been passed on to me of having a real responsibility telling the story. >> did you share the manuscript before was published? >> my mother is here. i shared it with her at different points. .. >> ab he did not write down in the journal. so her memory was an incredible part of reconstructing it in
addition to what he wrote. i see myself differently because my father side a scottish, english, i was very proud of that as a child. i see my family background in a more nuanced way now. >> i just want to say that one thing she does very well in her book is she juxtaposes her story of her grandfather with the story of her journey to retrace her grandfather steps. that is one of many captivated things about the book. again, i think the fact that i knew my grandfather well made a big difference it as i was researching his past. when i began to understand the scope of the killings that
happened, partially under his purview, i think that i was so intent on documenting it as thoroughly as i could. i did not want the material of the book to rest, i really wanted to double or triple source all of the material in the book that related to his activities. that took me to poland, germany, and other and other parts of eastern europe, many times in israel. i think that's certainly some family and is from identity comes responsibility. half of my is jewish, my jewish grandmother, rachel who live to 104, was the matriarch of my family. she pronounce very loudly one summer when she saw me wearing a little gold cross that all of my
polish girlfriends of war in the summer, my grandmother saw it on a street corner, ripped it up mina can threw it on the ground and said you are jewish. that sealed my identity. as i was working on this book i was was a very glad that she was no longer living because i think it would have destroyed her. but she is very much in my heart and in my head. i also felt that once i learned about the major massacre called the polygon massacre which is just one of the holocaust by bullets that exists all over eastern and western europe, the thing that haunted me was the an amenity of the dead. the countless people who lost their lives. it felt to me like i wanted to write a book that would in some way make that loss manifest. not to make anything right, not to close a circle, but just because i am my grandfather's granddaughter. it is that simple.
so that is what i did. >> and did use share with members of your family? >> jewish side of my family, yes. my mother was actually terrified about my work. i made a deal with her early on that i would not share research i found unless she specifically asked for it. she did not. she did not speak to me for several years. interestingly enough, and did a book expo with c-span before the book came out and my mom later asked to see that interview. we sat down and watched it together. she put her arms around me and she hugged me. she said i'm so proud of you. then she read the book. so at 86, she did a full circle. i have incredible admiration for her for that. what did.
>> what did she think about that? >> she loved it. she said i did a good job. >> that's what you hope her. we will go go to the audience in a minute. i want to ask each of you about technique. how you did this. research the whole thing and then right? along did it take you to write? what was your process like? >> i spent ten years before the novel writing a short story collection and it was a miserable experience. i do not know what i was doing. when it came time to write the novel i decide not to do it. i wrote a two page synopsis that's fairly accurate except for the ending. i knew as as i wrote the synopsis the ending was not what i wanted to do, and then to there's way through the novel i realized what the ending would be. i was lucky, i had two years off. i got a fellowship to work on my nonfiction book, instead i wrote my novel instead. no worries, i did finish the nonfiction book. >> you realize your tv. >> yes i tell my advisor -- for
two years i was in the zone. i would get up, right four hours a day, then go run in the afternoon at the gym and that was really important part of the writing process because as i was writing when i passed the 30 minute mark new ideas will come into my mind that i would work on. so i hope at some point in my life i can repeat that experience. it was rare. >> semi took ten years. i thought it would be two years and i took one decade. a a part of it is because a lot of i tried to do as much a primary research as possible so i had my grandfather's journals. i just went through it as much as possible. he he left the names of people in his caravans, what town they're from, where he was, what month he was in the camp. those were all clues for me. i spent years researching. i also wanted and i took out ads in the newspaper to see if any of the if who. if there any accounts out there.
then i also searched, there is one man who survived the same massacre my grandfather skate from. very few people survive, it was in eastern syria, the area the area that is now controlled by islamic state. i spent years searching for this man account, he was a writer in in the town before and i finally found it after years in a romanian newspaper. it just described the massacre, it it added on detail so i could expand what happened that night. when they massacred this whole caravan, so i just search for years. it it was this research that took me a long time. >> and language been a very. >> yes about six different languages. i i have really bad high school french.
>> which was not one of the six either. >> no. i was able to go through newspapers, and reconstruct my grandfather's time, went through oral history because they all reference each other when you look at memoirs of armenian support from my grandfather's town. or they would all say to this full name, this is -- and so i just went through everything i could about people who are for my grandfather's town and old books and then i just tried to expand his account with their counts. >> so would you read that with a translator question. >> when i started, we started with my mother's friends. they were all retired and would sit around and ask me, what are you doing and why are you single in your 30s? it was like coffee break. that was taken a while. then. then i finally had an incredible intern to help me and then i had
a professionally translated. i took i armenian classes at night because i cannot even read the armenian script of what book i was holding. it took quite a long time. >> will just to say, i began think you on my research material would be in english. it was not. it was in polish, german, lithuanian, german, lithuanian, yiddish, hebrew, many other languages, russian. so i worked with a lot of translators. i i traveled a lot. i found myself in dusty, musty archives. i did a lot of interviews. my wonderful friend daniel, he brought the book on lost, he told me record everything. video everything. video everything. that turned out to be great advice. i wrote the start of the book in one go and then i made notes. my notes run napkins, they were on planes, on the back of the
plane menu, they were in looseleaf sheets of paper that i thankfully remember to take with me when i left a certain hotel. somehow they all got organized. about three and a half years after the first round of travel i was still traveling and i was able to sit down and really start writing. then of course you go on deadline with your editor where you have to start giving them certain chunks of the book. for me at the beginning much of this was about traveling, talking to people and researching. >> i'm going to ask you all to stop lining up at the microphone while i ask one last question. so go ahead and lineup and will call on you in a minute to speak. i would just like to ask each of you if you're going to write another book and if so if you have an another idea in mind. >> while the nonfiction thing just came out, that store short
story collection that i agonized over ten years about, my publisher bought it and so were turning that into at the end of the summer. the first 50 pages of the sequel to the sympathizers has been written about by my publisher as well. >> the answer is, i do not know. i am probably going to move on to happier topics for a little while. then i will think about whether there is a story that is really going to compel me. >> currently a lot has happened after the publication of this book. i'm going to be writing about some of that in long form. whether that is going to jell into another book, i do not not know. there is one character in my book with a triple agent who under the auspices of nonfiction i was asked not to include certain details of her life. she is a character was stayed with me, who haunts me. someone who i think we'll find a
life outside of nonfiction. when that will happen, in in my study, i do not know. >> sir, questions for rita. use stated there are packets threat europe of anti-semitic feelings for the year. the nazis enabled the locals to collaborate and bring out their monster under the terrible atrocities. as you have reviewed all of the records and done your research in the countries in eastern europe, what is your observation today of anti-semitic feelings and is there something we should be worrying about with reports of a lot of radical, right-wing government activities unfolding in government question. >> absolutely. i i also want to say to, anti-semitism is not the only for that we are facing. certainly if you are connecting
with the goings on in eastern and western europe, it is frightening. the exodus of exodus of the jewish population from those countries now. it is frightening that low population left in eastern europe because of the nationalism and the anti-semitism, which boded ill for the jews who left but also for the disenfranchised. it is very, very scary. it is a recapitulation of something to some degree. also it seems to me as if it is a stream, current that is never ended. i was think about one of my trips to berlin, the person who is it taking my husband and i are around was very quick to show us all of the monuments and all of the waves in which jews are honored and the devastation of the holocaust. yet, casually would mention to
us any of the synagogues they always have bomb threats, every week. that still is the way it is. i think it is very important for us to remember it. so yes it is frightening. >> have your parents or any other people who gave you information about how accurate it was. >> all the comments have been positive, my father is very proud to see it, i'll take that, i should read the novel but -- but when i finish nothing ever dies as i was finishing nothing ever i went to see him again. you sacrifice a much with me and my mother. i really want to dedicate this
book for you. how should i dedicate the book and how to write your names? he said don't names in that book. the reason why is because he is afraid that the history of the vietnam war has not died. it still lives. there still people in vietnam who in his mind remember him. he he does not want to be touched by those passions and divisions that turned him into a refugee. so i think like the other writers hear this history of warfare and other kinds of disasters that our families have lived through have scarred my parents and he's other family members. for them the history is not passed. still remains traumatic. >> my question is primarily for rita. seems as though your research into your book was really expensive. to talk about all these trips to eastern europe and syria, turkey, how did you
finance that research, these years and read years of expensive travel? or you independently wealthy? >> i'll answer that first. i got an advance and that is how i spent my advance. so whenever you hear that writer got a big advance, don't think that they want a big car, they are working on their book with it. that is how is fortunate enough to be able to do the years of work i needed to do. then, i, i have to say i had some wonderful volunteers too. people in lithuania got really interested in what i was doing and offer their help and also some people in israel. >> like rita, i also got an advance. so i was able to fund a lot of my research. then research. then i went to all of my savings. >> is yours was a ten year project. >> yes, i was very excited when i left new york and my job and i had a good amount of money saved.
but like i said, thought it would take two years and i thought it was a great advance. then as i dug in, i realized, your pull string and look at one library for for something and you don't find it. you just have to find it so i ended up going to france to lick your collections there, looking through research and armenia and having people help me in romania. it was not the best financial decision but the best personal one. >> for dawn, what you think it might take for a future u.s. congress or president to have the courage to stand up to turkey and declare that it is a truth that there was an armenian genocide? >> i wish i knew the answer to that. we would do that. i don't think it is going to
happen anytime soon. and that is because of turkeys military importance to this country and with the middle east being what it is, it is going to be a long time i think it so maybe we all do not need turkey as much as a military partner so they cannot exert as much influence on us here. i am just continuing to say what happened so are other armenians and other people. that is what is important to me. just that the story is told. >> one of the things i've learned for my book from my book is that the author who coined the term, was actually meant for it to me the armenian genocide. it is is perverse about the denial of it. >> hitler reference what happened to the armenians before the holocaust. it is history repeating itself which is why it is important to tell the stories.
>> as a reader i find it really difficult when i am reading your stories, it hurts, and i think we can all relate to that. as a writer, you have to live and experience and then translate your own experience into words for other people. how do you cope with that, i'm sure you all had interesting and difficult times and it's all very personal. did you have these dark places and how did you get through? >> i admit that the tears i the years i spent writing this book are the best years of my life. it was a very rare experience, i want to treasure it. it is fiction. i just took tremendous pleasure in the experience of writing. but what you are talking about, i did did reach that point because for the end of the book it is some very terrible things happen. i had to re-create those things are imagine those things and live with that for several months.
and i did have nightmares and things like that. also looking at things like torture manuals and doing research that led to some very unpleasant facts that i had to think about. i don't know that there is an easy answer to that. i think all of us are committed to this idea that what we do in nonfiction and fiction is to investigate things that many other people do not want to investigate. on's on on pleasant as it is that is the task we take on our cell. whatever we into her as writers is nothing compared to the people who had to live this history go through. >> i would second that last point. i would always remind myself that as difficult as it is to read first count testimony after testimony of karen this things, it was nothing compared to what my grandfather or his peers went through. i became a connoisseur very light material, the fact that my husband rise walk in and i was
watching a bad show and be why are you watching that, and i i said i just cannot take anything serious. but now i am back to reading. >> welcome back. >> also, we are all writers, so whatever the material, we want to do it right. whether the material is grim, whether it is war-torn, whether it is something else, we want to give our very best to it. with that, that, that's a guiding force, it overrides to some degree some of the difficulty of the material that we have to flush out. hopefully we do it well. >> were you rooting for certain outcome, do you want to not find out certain things about your
grandfather,. >> me when i started obviously i wanted to find material that exonerated him. early on, just the logistics of where he was and where he was in these places and the things that were happening, it would've been very easy for me to just say well, of course. what i did not want to go that route, i wanted to be as methodical as i could. and work and to do as much research integrity as i could. i got to a point where i stopped hoping that i would find something else and then i had to deal with the reality of what i did find. >> and did you worry that you'd find something that would furnish your your grandfather's image in your eyes? >> i didn't. i think when i started out out i didn't know how reliable his account was. it's not like i wanted to -- i
went into her perspective of this happens. i i did not know how accurate he was. i had to find that out. that is why did such exhaustive research. as i continued to, as the years went on, he was was extremely accurate because even that mass account that i found in the romania newspaper 19 twenties, it matches matches up within one day of what my grandfather roads in his own journal. so just time and time again, he would would say i was in this camp with this family and i gave water to them. i ended up finding that family and the mother passed away but she left some journals, i would go through these journals and there she would say we're in this camp during this period. so it constantly lined up like that. they're just small little things that i found.
>> is it right to assume that the journals were indispensable for you in this book? >> absolutely. i cannot do it without the journals. when i started i started with an account that was translated into english. even when i'm starting it is going to quit because it just starts in the middle of world war i, you don't know about his life before hand, when we found more of his journals it just talked about have a time before the war and more of his experience and absolutely cannot have done it. >> the scope of the genocide that you describe seem almost unbelievable. but what is a harder to believe is how people who survived it can keep on living. i wonder if you have any stories of what happened with the survivors and how did they get a normal life afterwards? >> i don't think they do. i will just say that there are
three people in my book, the threads of their lives and their survivors of the ghetto which was the ghetto in the town with the region under my grandfather's control. they were young, they ended up becoming part of him. i became quite close to them and interviewed them repeatedly in israel their mission to tell their stories and to educate and remember has kept them alive. they are incredibly vital people. when you talk to them about what happened, they are is shattered today as they were some years ago. when they slipped out the back of the ghetto and the rest of their family were taken to the pit and polygon. so the phrase for me is war on
ending and they survived and contrived but this american myth that we have that we start wars and then the war ends and the people come back and it's all over. it's never over. so i have enormous amount of admiration for these people who not only move beyond silence but also try to do something with the words that they have lived with. >> those are excellent points which i agree with. it is also as he leave everything as my family did and so many families did and you come to a new country, you're just trying to survive again but in another way because you have lost your business, community, your friends, you don't have any money. you have to start over and care for your family and continue while you are dealing with this
trauma of witness. to me, the people who went for this and all of our families, they just just have incredible, they are so inspiring to me. it takes so much courage and strength number also the next generation to be able to give us opportunity for all of their hard-working courage. >> i did touch on genocide in the nonfiction work and i think what's important for americans as most americans would get that the united states -- there is a secret campaign and this and destroyed cambodian society and laid the groundwork for the rice. to answer your question that you post, the percentage within my book is a filmmaker and writer, i recommend his book and the missing pitcher which should
have won the oscar of the year. here's an example of an artist was devoted his entire life to confronting the genocide and what it means for one population of people in the country to kill another portion of that population. and that to me was as grim as a history was. the film after film, then this incredible memoir it does exactly what you have done it is for some people to confront history including cambodians themselves. speemac, fried to leave you stranded but were about out of time. you're welcome to come up afterward and ask your question. i think you all for being here. want to thank our panelist. [applause]. i can promise you