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tv   Meet the Author  BBC News  June 10, 2018 7:45pm-8:01pm BST

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but there was a high wind factor, so it won't count in the record books. it's only 12cm behind mike powell's world record, which was set in 1991. britain's zharnel hughes ran the fastest 100—metres of the season at the racers grand prix in jamaica last night. he clocked 9.91 seconds — a personal best for him and the first time he's gone under 10 seconds. on the all—time british list, only linford christie has run faster over the distance, although james dasaolu has also run 9.91. that's all from sportsday. just quickly to update you on the f1. sebastian vettel still leads the canadian grand prix. lewis hamiltin is down in sixth. more on the website and 5 live. we'll have more throughout the evening. next on bbc news it's meet the author.
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(end titles next) the persistence of the civil war in american culture is remarkable, but maybe not surprising. kevin powers is the latest writer to take a story of slavery from days of conflict in the 18605 and pick up its threads in virginia 90 years later, when an old man tries to chase his origins. a shout in the ruins is his second book. his first, the yellow birds, set against the background of the iraq war, having been a much admired novel from the pen of a former soldier. in this one, his theme is america's long struggle with race. welcome. you were born late in the 20th century, but any reader coming
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to this book will be made aware again of how close the civil war is, even to americans of your age. absolutely, and particularly if you grew up where i did in richmond, virginia or points south. capital of the confederacy. indeed, yeah. its presence is still quite immediately felt. of course, the landmarks and battlefields are right around the area, and so you can really walk these grounds in a way that you can't if you're from other parts of the state. so for you to spin a story that stretches from the 19505 through the lens of an old man and his memories and the mystery of his, you know, his early years, back to the civil war is a perfectly natural thing. it's not a stretch. well, you know, it presented challenges, certainly,
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but the idea was to demonstrate just how close it is in time. it's only passed out of living memory, as you say, in the 19505. this character, george seldom, represents that kind of passing out of living memory. and so for me, it felt perfectly natural to explore, you know, the way that the legacy of that period is still very present today. and in the form of racial attitudes, really, because what we're talking about here, the guts of the story — the civil war part of the story, because it moves back and forth — is based on a plantation. right. and the principal character is someone who has to live under that. absolutely. and, you know, the story is basically about how people who have been so fundamental to the character of virginia, who have contributed in essential ways to the culture of the place where i'm from, have been not afforded the same kind
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of opportunities or recognition as full members of that society. a shout in the ruins is the title, of course. just describe the ruins. well, it's really... i guess in a larger sense, thematically, the title refers to the opportunity that wasn't fully realised after the american civil war. it was the moment in american history where we — and by we, i mean americans and also southerners — were going to determine whether we were going to be the kind of country we said we were. and that opportunity was there, and i think remains. but certainly, it wasn't fully realised at that time. for me, the tragedy in many ways is that the cleansing — if you want to call it that — was incomplete. and very soon after the end of the war, reconstruction, the period immediately afterwards, didn't do all of the work that i think it could have. well, and that was the period
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in which the south, southerners, felt that they were being humiliated and that the seeds of resentment which would last for a century and more were planted. absolutely. and all the revisionism and the lost cause retelling of the story of the american south began in the ashes of the war, in reconstruction. so let's talk about the old man who goes back in his memory and tries to find out how he came to be who he was. right. it's a classic storyteller‘s trick. i don't mean that pejoratively. no, no, i understand, yeah. and it works because we want to know, too. and that's the idea. ifigure if i could create a character who was in some ways after the same thing as the reader would be, then that would allow the reader to make these discoveries along with him.
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particularly this man, i think, is quintessentially virginian. what do you mean by that? well, the strands that he... i won't give it away, but who he comes from... yeah, we don't want to spoil that for readers. but the kind of different lineages that he has... so he represents all that's good about virginia and, you know, if you want to take it larger about america as well, but also all the pain and suffering has been involved in the evolution of the country too. yes, and the uncertainties about origin, which is such an american preoccupation. i guess that's true. i was talking to somebody not long ago. and ijust had to say we're all mutts. we don't really know where we come from. and i think one of the dangers of that, you know, you can fixate on certain kinds of identities, whether it be an obsession with the south and — i'll put this in quotes —
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"the glories of the confederate past". and that's something that people are still trying to shake off today. as a writer, you had enormous success with the yellow birds. and this came from your own experience in the military. and you wrote with a kind of searing pen about the experience, what it does to people, and really what it's like, what it feels like, what it smells like. it's quite a shift to go to this. i mean, you really are saying, "right now, i believe i can tackle the kinds of big subjects that a novelist is obliged to tackle." but did you sense that this was quite a step? i knew it presented different challenges. 0bviously, the yellow birds is fundamentallyjust one person's story and this takes on several people's story and several time periods, so i had to try to accurately capture different, very different perspectives. and use a different
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narrative technique. absolutely, and, you know, allow, in a way, the story to present the drama. not unadorned but with less intensity, in a way, because, you know, you don't want... particularly the scenes of certain kinds of violence, violence against enslaved people, i didn't want to get into something... you could see the danger of becoming too, you know, too crude about it. sure, and i didn't want to sensationalize it, but, you know,... in the same way that my service in the military was a pressing experience to explore, my upbringing in virginia and in the south was pressing and felt immediate in much the same way. do you enjoy the writing business?
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you were a soldier for a period. i mean, you've always been interested in literature and so on. absolutely. but now, you've taken a very different path. i enjoy the writing very much. it feels satisfying and worthwhile, and ifeel like it allows me to make discoveries about my own way of thinking in the world and my own beliefs. you know, and onejust hopes that you can connect with readers who will have some of the same questions. that's very meaningful to me, and that feels like a useful way to spend one's time. and what of the old man in the ‘50s who finally discovers the truth about his real story? what do you want the reader to feel about him? i think he reaches a point of acceptance, where the past... you know, for him, it's slightly different because he's at the end of his life. but in a way, i think it can
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represent that we don't always have to be defined by our past. by making new choices in the future, we can become new people. and notjust new people as individuals, but also a new people. and so, i hope people will come away from this story with at least a thread of hope, to recognise that despite all the pain and suffering that's characterised much of virginia's history — and really, let's be honest, the planet's history — that there's always the opportunity to do something different tomorrow. kevin powers, author of a shout in the ruins. thank you very much. thank you, i appreciate it. hello there. after cloudy start, the sunshine
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came out, temperatures into the mid—20s. this photo here in somerset shows pretty much what many people experience but their work showers and thunderstorms around south—east scotla nd and thunderstorms around south—east scotland and into the north of england. these will fizzle out this evening and tonight will be dry. some clear spells but also cloud returning to south and east and areas. pretty warm temperatures. a few chilly spots under clear skies. asimilar few chilly spots under clear skies. a similar sort of day tomorrow, high pressure still in control, warm spells of sunshine and the chance of some isolated heavy showers and thunderstorms. scotland might stay cloudy on monday, the odd shower but for england and wales and northern ireland, lots of sunshine, which could spark some heavy downpours particularly over the pennines and maybe into wells and the south west of england. temperatures of 2425 degrees. high—pressure on tuesday, but slightly cooler air moving down
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ona but slightly cooler air moving down on a northerly breeze. that will be noticeable across the board. a little bit cooler, more cloud around, some sunny little bit cooler, more cloud around, some sunny spells, perhaps the odd shower but most places will be dry but the top temperatures instead of the mid—20s will be 19—20 and that could be quite noticeable for some. in two wednesday, still with the ridge of high pressure up to the west, something we have not seen to the west, and atlantic global racing towards our shores but it means that wednesday starts fine, a lot of sunshine for england and wales, southern and eastern parts of scotland, but further west, those winds will pick up, up to 40 mph, along with more persistent rain. again, afairly along with more persistent rain. again, a fairly warm day, warmer than tuesday. as we head into thursday, a different feel to the perth weather, gales in scotland, as this atlantic low brings a band of rain south and east across the
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country through the day, tending to wea ken country through the day, tending to weaken as it reaches the east. we start the new week on a dry and warm though, lots of sunshine and then turns unsettled midweek onwards with some wind and rain in the forecast and it will also turn a bit fresher as well. this is bbc news, i'm martine croxall. the headlines at 8pm: touch—down in singapore — donald trump prepares for an historic summit with north korea's leader, kim jong un. mr kim arrived several hours earlier. the meeting between the two men will take place on tuesday. france condemns president trump's description of the canadian prime minister as "dishonest and weak" in a tweet, following the g7 meeting in quebec. tory mps are urged to rally round theresa may, as the government prepares for a series of crucial parliamentary votes on brexit. processions take place across the uk to mark 100 years since women first won the right to vote. also in the next hour, a lightning bolt devastates a family's home in east dunbartonshire. the house is engulfed
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by flames after being struck. the occupants escaped unharmed. and at 8.30pm, the travel show team visit egypt and set sail onboard the world's largest cruise ship.
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