Guest host for Friday, April 19, 2013: Dana Sachs

Dana SachsWho wouldn’t want to drive across country in a classic Rolls Royce? In Dana Sach‘s aesthetic novel, The Secret of the Nightingale Palace,  Anna, a young widow still grieving the leukemia death of her husband and her feisty octogenarian grandmother, Goldie, do just that.

Comfortable in her widow’s weeds, Goldie can’t understand why Anna is still reeling from the harsh, drawn-out death of her husband two years before. However much she wants to move on, Anna has armored herself with undesirability and unworthiness—two attributes for which Goldie has no sympathy. When Goldie recruits—practically demands—Anna to drive her from New York to San Francisco to return a portfolio of rare Japanese prints to a friend sent to the Manzanar Concentration Camp during World War II, a fascinating tale of two widows of different eras unravels across the miles. The Secret of the Nightingale PalaceSachs deftly examines multi-cultural issues in romance, politics, and life.

Just when you think the book is going one place, The Secret of the Nightingale Palace turns a corner and goes an unexpected direction for an ending both unexpected and delightful for both of the women.

Sachs began her writing career as a journalist, publishing articles, essays, and reviews in, among other publications, National GeographicMother JonesTravel and Leisure Family, and The Boston Globe. Her first book, The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam (2000) was chosen as an American Booksellers Association Book Sense Pick (the precursor of the Indiebound Next List). Her first novel, If You Lived Here (2007) was also a Book Sense Pick and was chosen for inclusion in Barnes and Noble’s Discover Great New Writers Program. Her nonfiction narrative The Life We Were Given: Operation Babylift, International Adoption, and the Children of War in Vietnam (2010) resulted from a Fulbright Foundation Fellowship in Vietnam. She is the co-author, with Nguyen Nguyet Cam and Bui Hoai Mai, of Two Cakes Fit for a King: Folktales from Vietnam (2003) and co-translator of numerous Vietnamese short stories into English. With her sister, filmmaker Lynne Sachs, she made the documentary about postwar Vietnam, “Which Way is East.”

Follow Dana Sachs on Twitter: @DanaSachs.