Naomi Benaron: nay-OH-mee BEN-uh-ron
Naomi Benaron is a fiction writer, a poet, and a social activist - all entwined. She has worked extensively with the African refugee population in her community, teaches online through the Afghan Women's Writing Project, has been involved with aiding Rwandan genocide survivors and is committed to working to end genocide on a global scale.
Her short story collection, Love Letters from a Fat Man, won the 2006 Sharat Chandra Prize for Fiction. Her novel, Running the Rift, tells the story of Jean Patrick Nkuba, a gifted Rwandan boy, from the day he knows that running will be his life to the moment he must run to save his life, a ten-year span in which his country is undone by the Hutu-Tutsi tensions. It won the 2010 Bellwether Prize for Fiction and was shortlisted for the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize. Her short story The Weight of Grace can be found in the September 2013 issue of the Munyori Literary Journal and her short story The Geology of Ghosts was also featured in Munyori which, as Naomi puts it, was the first recognition she got for her work about Rwanda.
Naomi is also an Ironman triathlete.
This biography was last updated on 09/13/2013.
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In the brief essay below, Naomi Benaron describes the genesis of her debut novel, Running the Rift, and explains the absolute freedom found in running.
An essay by Naomi Benaron on Running the Rift
I have been writing since before I could write. Before I understood the power of the pencil and dragged my mother into every store we passed to beg for one, I made up stories and plays and performed them for an audience of stuffed animals and Claribel, my clown. I made my mother change the endings of songs that didn't suit me and sing them in rhyme. The first story I wrote was about a Luna moth, and I wrote it because I was moved by the brevity of its life and the beauty of its wings. I wrote it because I did not want to believe in death.
After I was a writer, and before I was a writer again, I took a sinuous path to science. The child of two physicians, I knew I was destined to follow in their footsteps, but I fought it with every ounce of stubbornness I had. I went to Israel and lived on a kibbutz and wrote poems in a notebook. I hitchhiked through Europe and went to museums and wrote poems in a notebook. I worked on fishing boats in Florida, sailed to the West Indies and worked on charter sailboats, and wrote poems in ...
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