The Creative Spark is a collection of interviews with some of the most creative people of our time: musicians, writers, visual artists, explorers, and chefs. These makers speak about what drives them, what helps them to see the world in fresh ways, and what inspires them turn their visions into art. During the past decade, Michael Shapiro has interviewed some of our brightest creative luminaries. Among the authors are Amy Tan, David Sedaris, Barbara Kingsolver, Pico Iyer, and Frances Mayes. His work as a music journalist has led to interviews with legends including Smokey Robinson, Lucinda Williams, Graham Nash, Lyle Lovett, Melissa Etheridge, Merle Haggard, and Jethro Tull bandleader Ian Anderson. And he’s spoken with creative masters in other fields, such as director Francis Ford Coppola and comedian Joan Rivers.
She Broke a 1000-Year-Old Tradition
Eighteen-year-old Franca Viola made history in 1966 as one of the first “#metoo” heroines of modern times, when she refused to go along with a centuries-old forcible marriage custom in Sicily. Having endured kidnap and rape, she publicly defied the expectation that she would marry the rapist to “restore her broken honor.” A social uproar occurred throughout the island—and beyond.
In Natalie Galli’s The Girl Who Said No, Viola’s remarkable story unfolds when the author arrives in Palermo to search for her, with little more than the memory of a tiny article she had spotted two decades prior. Galli wanted to know: whatever had become of this courageous girl who had overturned an ancient, entrenched tradition?
Throughout her search for the enigmatic Franca, Galli shares her own poignant and hilarious observations about a vibrant culture steeped in contradiction and paradox. Does she succeed in locating the elusive proto-feminist whose case forever changed Italian culture and history? Travel along on Galli’s engaging odyssey to find out.
“Engrossing from the very first page. I was totally swept away.” —Lavinia Spalding, author of Writing Away
Sophia Erickson graduated from college with an apparently useless degree in European history. She faced crippling student loans, but after an anxious couple of months waiting tables in her small Massachusetts town, she bought a one-way ticket to China. Over the following two years she had deeply enriching cultural experiences, paid off nearly half her student loans, and visited China from Heilongjiang to Hainan, as well as neighboring countries Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Singapore. The China Option: A Guide for Millennials: How to work, play, and find success in China is a manifesto for recent college grads to pay off debt while living a stimulating, adventurous life, and to pave the way for a successful future.
The secret is out: Cuba is the world’s sexiest, most magnetic travel destination. What isn’t a secret is that folks from around the corner and around the globe have been exploring and falling in love with the largest Caribbean island for decades. Now you can too with 100 Places in Cuba Every Woman Should Go, written from the unique perspective of a New Yorker who has called Havana home for more than 15 years. The 100 places profiled in this book are the result of decades of travel, research, and living in Cuba by a US journalist with uncommon access, ensuring travelers incomparable experiences. Much more than a prescriptive list, these narratives incorporate adventures and mishaps, insider opinion, slang, gossip, and conversations with Cubans during a historic shift that saw Soviet support evaporate, Fidel Castro take his final bow, economic reforms whiffing suspiciously of capitalism, and quasi-normalization with the United States. Author Conner Gorry deciphers the mysteries of Cuba while describing the country’s most alluring sites, sounds, and off-the-beaten track locales. Go with her and discover this magical island for yourself.
What is your mother tongue? Sometimes the simplest questions take a book to answer. Such is the case with Tania Romanov. Mother Tongue is an exploration of lives lived in the chaos of a part of the world known as the Balkans. It follows the lives of three generations of women—Katarina, Zora, and Tania—over the last 100 years. It follows countries that dissolved, formed, and reformed. Lands that were conquered and subjugated by Fascists and Nazis and nationalists. Lives lived in exile, in refugee camps, in new worlds. The country of birth listed on Tania’s American passport changed four times in four successive renewals. Until the first time, she believed your country of birth was a fixed point. Today she knows better. Go with her as she journeys through time and history looking for answers, and finding some.