Susan Minot’s ‘Thirty Girls’ And How Fiction Can Connect Worlds

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The central drama in Susan Minot's most recent novel, which came out earlier this year, comes from a true and harrowing story.

In 1996, members of the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, led by Joseph Kony, abducted 139 Catholic school girls from their dorm. Kony and his rebels were infamous for their child soldiers and their brutality.

The school's Italian headmistress followed them into the bush and managed to negotiate the release of most of her students, but she had to leave behind 30 girls, who remained enslaved by the rebels. So Minot's novel is called "Thirty Girls."

It tells the story of this abduction and its aftermath, alternating between the voice of Esther Akello, one of the abducted girls, and Jane Woods, an American writer who travels to Uganda to write about them.

Susan Minot grew up in Manchester-by-the-Sea and she'll be delivering the fiction keynote tonight at the the Boston Book Festival.


Susan Minot, author of "Thirty Girls" and the Boston Book Festival’s fiction keynote speaker.


Boston Book Festival: Fiction Keynote 8:00 pm Friday, October 24th, Old South Sanctuary, 645 Boylston Street

  • Join Susan Minot and Nigerian-American journalist and author of The Bright Continent: Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africa, Dayo Olopade, for a conversation about Thirty Girls, Africa, fiction, and journalism.

WBUR: Harrowing Memories, Intersecting Lives In ‘Thirty Girls’

  • So a story like Thirty Girls seems like a dramatic departure for Minot. But, in fact, she's written about the Aboke abductions before — she draws on her own 2002 journalistic account for the novel's gripping section on the school raid.

New York Times: Child, Slave, Soldier: ‘Thirty Girls,’ by Susan Minot

  • Onto this thoroughly modern stage of instant celebrity made exotic by distant violence and warmed with transitory heartache, Susan Minot has set a novel of quiet humanity and probing intelligence. “Thirty Girls” approaches the atrocities wrought by Kony’s army with candor yet without sensationalism, a combination that may not initially attract readers. But to ignore Minot’s book would be a serious mistake.

This segment aired on October 24, 2014.


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