New Dialogues From the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference

What do a goshawk, a first lady, Muslims and “dark money” have in common? They’re all topics of this year’s Conversations From the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference on Idaho Public Television’s Dialogue.

Dialogue Team

Host Marcia Franklin and the Dialogue team are back with the 11th year of interviews from the renowned event. Tune in every Friday in September at 7:30 PM to listen to the engaging conversations. The programs repeat Sundays at 5/4 PM MT/PT.

“For more than a decade, I’ve been fortunate to be able to take Dialogue to the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference,” says series host and producer Marcia Franklin. “And every year, it’s extremely difficult to narrow down my choices for interviews.

“This year was no exception, because there were so many great writers at the event. But I think we have a stellar lineup of conversations with thoughtful authors who will share insights about both their writing and our times.”

Here’s the lineup of conversations from the 2017 Sun Valley Writers’ Conference:

Louisa Thomas.png
Louisa Thomas

September 1: Journalist Louisa Thomas explains why we should know more about another Louisa — Louisa Catherine Adams, the wife of President John Quincy Adams. Thomas is the author of Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams. Using Adams’ own letters and memoirs — including some letters Thomas discovered for the first time — the book draws an intimate portrait of a self-deprecating first lady who also had great fortitude, traveling by herself in Europe during dangerous times despite being ill much of her life.

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Ayad Akhtar

September 8: Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar talks about his trajectory from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Broadway, and the often controversial themes of his works. Akhtar won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for his play Disgraced, which depicts a casual dinner party that goes awry after banter between friends becomes heated. The play not only takes on hot-button issues surrounding 9/11 and Islam, but also reveals what Akhtar calls the “secret tribal identities” of us all.

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Jane Mayer

September 15: New Yorker investigative journalist Jane Mayer delves into the links between the Koch brothers and “dark money,” which she uncovers in her latest book, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. Mayer worked for more than three years on the book, an expansion of an article she wrote on Charles and David Koch for The New Yorker in 2010. The two brothers, the scions of Koch Industries, have spent decades funding conservative candidates and causes.

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Helen Macdonald photo: Mike Birkhead Assoc.

September 22: Falconer and author Helen Macdonald shares how a goshawk helped her soar above grief and loss, and discusses her new PBS Nature documentary. Her memoir, H Is for Hawk, recounts the year Macdonald spent training a goshawk in the wake of her father’s death, and describes how the beauty and isolation of training the irascible bird helped her begin her life anew. The book was awarded the Samuel Johnson Prize and the Costa Book of the Year award. The Nature documentary H Is for Hawk: A New Chapter, which airs November 1 at 7 PM, follows Macdonald as she trains a new goshawk.

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Andrew Solomon

September 29: Author and professor Andrew Solomon relates how he went from being a bullied child suffering from depression to an award-winning journalist traveling the world. Solomon’s 2001 book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, won the National Book Award for Nonfiction and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His most recent book, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, tells the stories of families raising exceptional children who not only learn to deal with their challenges, but also find profound meaning in doing so.

After they air, interviews will be available for streaming at IdahoPTV On Demand. Previous years’ interviews can be streamed at the Dialogue Conversations From the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference page.

“I always learn so much when I research these programs, and I hope that viewers in turn will glean new understandings of our world and themselves,” Franklin says. “My thanks to the organizers of the conference for inviting us, and to the writers for finding time in their schedules to talk with me.”

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