Deborah Amos, on Importance of National News in Local Life

By Steve Jackson

Deborah Amos is a familiar name to NPR listeners. She has reported for years as a foreign correspondent, often reporting from the Middle East. Amos will be in Spokane this week, taking part in the Get Lit! festival.

Amos has had a connection to Spokane Community College in the past. She worked on a book project sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities on Islamic literature. That work , which consisted of reviews of five Islamic books, was requested by the SCC Library. Amos says "they were novels and memoirs and the like and I wrote a 5,000 word essay, and those five books went out to public libraries that requested them". She says the libraries can have panels and reading groups "to discuss a culture they may not know anything about."

Amos herself is a bookwriter. In 2010, she published the Eclipse of the Sunnis, which documented the flight of Sunni’s from Iraq, following the war there:

Amos: “And I went to Damascus on another story, and I realized I can talk to refugees here, people who are coming in fresh from Bagdad and all the hotspots. And I can get an idea about what is happening in Iraq by being in Syria, and watching this remarkable exodus, which is what I did.”

Amos says that situation has changed with the uprising in Syria:

Amos: “At the height of the exodus into Syria there were two million Iraqis who came mostly to Damascus. And when the revolt began in 2011, it put these people in a very curious quandary. They were Sunni Muslims, and the majority of the revolutionaries were also Sunnis, but they had been taken in by the government and given shelter. And for a long time they stayed quiet, until it became clear it was safer in Iraq than Syria, and many went back home."
 
Amos will appear at the Get Lit festival Wednesday. She tells SPR that she will give a talk on why international news matters at the local level, and what's at stake for people to listen to details that seems to have no direct relationship to someone's life.

Amos: “But it does. I was thinking about my own experience with news and my father. He sat down with his children and we watched the evening news. I remember some of the stories back then, the mineral rich area of the Konchasa in the Congo. And I knew that phrase because my father had introduced me to the news.”

Deborah Amos will be speaking at the Get Lit! festival in Spokane on Wednesday, April 9th at 7pm at SCC in the Lair Auditorium. Her talk is free and open to the public.
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