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  • NYS Writers Institute

Albany Book Festival author spotlight: Former child soldier Ishmael Beah

We're using this space to highlight authors and books that'll be featured at our upcoming Albany Book Festival coming to you online September 10-24. 

Ishmael Beah will be interviewed by Edward Schwarzschild. The conversation will premiere on our YouTube channel at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16. All conversations are pre-recorded and available on our YouTube channel so you can watch at your convenience, on any device.

In 1991, Ishmael Beah’s parents and two brothers were killed during the civil war in Sierra Leone and he was forcibly recruited to served as a soldier at age 13. After two years, with UNICEF help, Ishmael was removed from the army and placed in a rehabilitation home in Freetown.

In a 2019 interview, Beah recalled his brutal experiences during the war: "You’ve lost everything, and you’re angry. You want to hold someone accountable. I had taken shelter at a military base but the coercion, the drugs and the threat of physical violence was enough for me to be recruited."

His New York Times bestselling memoir A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, has been published in more than 30 languages and was nominated for a Quill Award in 2007. Time magazine named the book as one of the top 10 nonfiction books of 2007, ranking it at number three.

Now living in Los Angeles with his wife and children, Beah is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and advocate for Children by War, and a member of the Human Rights Watch Children Advisory Committed.

His new novel, Little Family, tells a story about five young people who create a home in the fuselage of a downed plane.

More about Ishmael Beah

Conversation: Ishmael Beah and The New Yorker staff writer Alexis Okeowo discuss how fiction can help us navigate some of the most unrelenting humanitarian crises of our age.



* Edward Schwarzschild is the author of the new novel In Security (SUNY Press, October 2020). He is also the author of Responsible Men and The Family Diamond. At the University at Albany, State University of New York, he is Associate Professor of English, Director of Creative Writing, and Fellow of the New York State Writers Institute.

In Security is available to order through the SUNY Press website at a 30% discount with coupon code ABF20 through October 24th. Click here to order.



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