Jacki Lyden


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“The task of writing is transforming or encapsulating our moment so that you can share it with the reader, listener, viewer.” Journalist and memoirist Jacki Lyden explores the different ways in which nonfiction writing can engage with the world and with readers in this On the Fly interview. The interview was recorded in November 2010 when Lyden came to the University of Iowa for the Bedell Nonfiction Now Conference.

Lyden is the author of Daughter of the Queen of Sheba, a memoir which recounts her mother’s struggles with manic depression. She has been a war correspondent—writing in some of the most extreme conditions imaginable—and is a contributing host and correspondent for NPR. She was the first NPR reporter on the air from New York on September 11, 2011.

In this conversation, she discusses her work on “the homefront and the warfront,” including the collision of her mother’s loss of memory and one of her subject’s loss of cultural memories as themes for her writing. She says, “I think memory is sacred, and that’s something I’m working to preserve.”