For a few decades now, teens have flocked to YA novels like The Hunger Games or The Fault in Our Stars. Why are they so popular? We talk to two novelists who say young adult fiction can help teens consider big issues and life and ‘practice’ their responses to real-world problems like violence and drugs.
The partition of India in 1947 is a historical event that often goes untold, despite being one of the largest mass migrations in the world. But, author Veera Hiranandani feels that it is important to talk about this time in history more now than ever. The author, whose book The Night Diary details the story of a young girl who lives in the midst of the partition of India, explains that this important event in history is losing the opportunity to be told by the people who experienced it because many of the people who were children during the partition are in their 80s and older. With this in mind, Hiranandani set out to write a book that focused on aspects of the partition of India that many people are unaware of.
Throughout the course of the novel, this event is told through the eyes of a 12 year-old girl which was done purposefully in order to convey a few points. Hiranandani wanted to honor the pain experienced from the amount of violence at this time without focusing on it too much due to the intended audience of her book. Another important point brought up by Hiranandani in The Night Diary was the division of religious beliefs at the time. She explains that these prominent divisions make it difficult for people to understand and overcome these differences. Finally, she wanted to address how the events of this history are still relatable today. The novel works to humanize refugees by depicting the character as typical 12 year-old that is worried about average everyday experiences. Hiranandani explains that she does this in order to help people look at the refugee as a young girl instead of othering her. In order to learn more about the partition of India, listen to this weeks show and pick up a copy of Hiranandani’s book, The Night Diary.
Often times, events that affect an entire population are not easily forgotten. But, the Spanish Flu is one of those that has not received as much attention as other events of similar merit. Susan Meissner, author of As Bright As Heaven, explains that 100 years ago in 1918, the Spanish Flu travelled around the world killing around 50 million people. Despite its death toll, it is one of the few diseases that many people know very little about.
How did a disease with such a massive death toll garner so little attention? Meissner believes that the lack of media attention at the time when the Spanish Flu occurred is part of the reason why it was forgotten. However, she also explains that the Spanish Flu began during World War I and ended around the same time, and people dealt with the combined death toll of both of these events by disregarding the pain entirely. Due to the immense feeling of loss during the 1920s, the Spanish Flu became almost absent in history. In her novel, Meissner gives details about the flu by contextualizing it in the midst of a modern day story. With her novel, Meissner explains that her main goal is to acknowledge the emotions embedded within the Spanish Flu that affected the entire world. Check out her novel As Bright as Heaven, and listen to her explain more about the Spanish Flu in this week’s show.