I spent most of last Saturday at Seattle University attending the Search for Meaning Book Festival. It was launched in 2009 and attracts some of the best authors in the world with books covering fiction, non-fiction, poetry and much more. KCTS 9 was a media sponsor.
It was my first time attending and I was there to moderate a conversation with author Suki Kim, who wrote the book Without You, There Is No Us. It’s a fascinating story of her undercover experience in North Korea where she spent six months disguised as a missionary and working as an English teacher to the sons of North Korea’s elite. She found a country built on lies, with no soul and unfortunately for the young men she taught and grew to love in a motherly way, there is little hope for a future where they could actually be free to express themselves.
Author Sam Quinones was also a featured speaker. His book is DREAM LAND: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic is especially timely right now. Seattle has a heroin epidemic. King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray just announced a task force to confront the region’s challenge. Of course, it’s not just a Seattle problem, it a national epidemic that started years ago as Americans became addicted to pain pills like oxycontin. Quinones explains in detail how this epidemic began in middle America and its connection to a small Mexican town that brought in black tar heroin, a less costly drug that could meet Americans addictive needs more readily. Quinone says this is a White community problem with no easy solutions.
Suki Kim and Sam Quinones will be featured on upcoming episodes of Conversations, the KCTS 9 podcast I produce and host. I’ll send out a link as soon as they are ready.
Their work and their books are so fitting for the Search for Meaning Book Festival. There are no easy answers to the challenges in the world today. All we can do is search for some meaning and understanding that can help us cope.
Thank you to Seattle University for staging the book festival. It’s become an annual event that makes this a great city for authors and book lovers.