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Idaho Public Television’s ‘Dialogue’ returns with interviews from Sun Valley Writers’ Conference

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Dialogue” host and producer Marcia Franklin, left, interviews novelist Tayari Jones, right, for Idaho Public Television’s series on Conversations From the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference. (Courtesy of Idaho Public Television)

The conversations air at 8:30 p.m. every Friday in December and first Friday in January

Conversations From the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference on “Dialogue” is back with six new interviews from the acclaimed event. The Idaho Capitol Sun spoke to producer and host Marcia Franklin and the conference’s associate director Carrie Lightner about the upcoming event airing on Idaho Public Television.

“I’m enthusiastic about our lineup of guests,” says Franklin, the producer and host of the series, which has been visiting the literary event since 2005. “I feel so fortunate to have been able to interview authors at the conference for almost 15 years now. It’s always so tough to narrow down whom to interview because all the speakers are so excellent. Each brings a new view to our shared American story. I hope viewers will come away from these interviews with new insights.”

Franklin said what sets the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference apart is that it’s a “unique blend of writers and thought leaders, all sharing their expertise and views amidst the gorgeous backdrop of the Wood River Valley and the Pioneer Mountains.”

She started the series in 2005 and has conducted interviews at the event every year since then, except when the conference was on hiatus in 2007, 2013 and 2020. “This year was our 14th at the conference,” she says.

The conversations air at 8:30 p.m. every Friday in December, with one of the interviews airing the first Friday in January. The first three shows feature speakers from the conference who have focused on World War II.

On Dec. 3, Daniel James Brown, the best-selling author of “The Boys in the Boat,” talks about his newest book, “Facing the Mountain,” which honors the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated unit of Japanese-Americans who fought in World War II. However, many of their families were incarcerated in the United States simply for being of Japanese descent.

On Dec. 10, Tom Ikeda, who provided critical research for Brown’s book, discusses his Seattle-based nonprofit, Densho, which preserves the stories of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II. Ikeda’s parents and grandparents were imprisoned in the Minidoka camp in Idaho.

On Dec. 17, Catherine Grace Katz talks with Franklin about “The Daughters of Yalta,” her first book. In it, she illuminates the contributions of Anna Roosevelt, Sarah Churchill and Kathleen Harriman to the seminal 1945 meeting of world leaders at Yalta, which included their fathers — Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Averell Harriman.

On Dec. 24, Sarah Broom unpacks her National Book Award-winning memoir, “The Yellow House,” which chronicles the devastating effects that decades of neglect and bureaucratic amnesia have had on her childhood neighborhood of New Orleans East. The book also pays homage to the house in which she and her 11 siblings grew up. It was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina but lived on in Broom’s prose.

On Dec. 31, writer and author Susan Orlean round out the month in a lively chat with Franklin about her writing style and work, including hundreds of magazine articles, “The Library Book,” and an upcoming memoir.

And on Jan. 7, novelist Tayari Jones describes the process of writing “An American Marriage.” This novel chronicles the trajectory of a marriage when one of the spouses is wrongfully imprisoned. Jones talks with Franklin about the varied circumstances that led to the book’s characters and being informed by her parents’ experiences, who were both active in the civil rights movement.

Carrie Lightner is the associate director of the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference and talked about the connectivity with the authors and what it takes for a spotlight at the conference.

“Our Literary Committee works hard throughout the year to create a program featuring diverse and engaging topics and presenters across a wide variety of genres — fiction, nonfiction, biography, poetry, film, humor, music, history, and current events,” she says. “We aim to invite a broad selection of presenters to the SVWC stage, including emerging voices and debut novelists, and established authors. Our mission statement says it best: ‘The Sun Valley Writers’ Conference strives to bring together readers, writers, and artists of diverse ages, backgrounds and experiences to be informed, enlightened, challenged and inspired by a world-class literary program in the great outdoors.’ ”

Noting the diverse selection of topics and authors, Lighner adds: “We are excited to have several writers who have never been to SVWC (and) joining us in 2022, including Elizabeth Kolbert, Ocean Vuong, Terry Tempest Williams, Evan Osnos and Heather McGhee.”

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state.