Stone, Sarah 1961-
STONE, Sarah 1961–
PERSONAL: Born January 7, 1961, in San Francisco, CA; daughter of George (a psychology professor and environmental activist) and Hannah (a ceramic sculptor and assemblage artist); married Laurence Kent Jones (a photographer and foreign service officer), 1980; divorced 1997; married Ron Nyren (a writer), 2000. Education: University of California, Santa Cruz, B.A., 1981; University of Michigan, M.F.A., 1998.
ADDRESSES: Home—P.O. Box 9156, Berkeley, CA 94709. Office—New College of California, 777 Valen-cia St., San Francisco, CA 94110; New College of California, 50 Fell St., San Francisco, CA 94102. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Educator and writer. New College of California, San Francisco, CA, core director of M.A./M.F.A. in writing and consciousness program. Taught at University Michigan, and Ann Arbor; University of California, Berkeley. Has also taught in South Korea in the classroom and on television. Previously volunteered at, among other places, the Jane Goodall Institute, Bujumbura, Burundi, 1991–93, and at a tutorial program for children and high-school students in San Francisco.
AWARDS, HONORS: Avery Hopwood and Jules Hopwood awards; Colby fellowship; Shane Stevens fellowship, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference; Walter E. Dakin fellowship, Sewanee Writer's Conference.
The True Sources of the Nile (novel), Doubleday (New York, NY), 2002.
(With Ron Nyren) Deepening Fiction: A Practical Guide for Intermediate and Advanced Writers, Pearson/Longman (New York, NY), 2005.
Author of short fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and reviews; coeditor of Writing across Berkeley, a publication of University of California, Berkeley, Forum on Teaching Writing.
The True Sources of the Nile has been translated into German and Dutch.
WORK IN PROGRESS: The first novel of a trilogy, tentatively titled The Burning Paradise Show.
SIDELIGHTS: Sarah Stone sets her first novel in Burundi, Africa, where she lived in the early 1990s, taught English as a second language, and reported on human rights. The True Sources of the Nile is the story of an American human-rights worker named Anne who falls in love with Jena-Pierre, one of the country's ruling Tutsi clan members and a charismatic man. The physical aspects of her love affair are almost overwhelming for Anne, who believes that their passion can overcome their obvious cultural differences. When Anne learns that her mother has been diagnosed with cancer and may be dying, she returns home to California, where she must deal with family problems, such as stresses between both herself and her sisters as well as between the sisters and their mother. Anne is more than happy to return to Burundi and her lover, but she soon faces another crisis when the age-old feud between the country's Hutus and Tutsis erupts once again in violence and thousands of Tutsi are killed. Fearing for her lover's safety, Anne soon learns that some of Jena-Pierre's family members are missing. She eventually witnesses acts of extreme brutality that jolt her idealistic view of both life and Africa, and she is further shaken when she discovers that her lover's past—and perhaps even his present—includes a darker side that she knew nothing about. Burundi's civil war causes human-rights workers to flee the country, and Anne returns home, still in love with Jean-Pierre. When he eventually follows her to San Francisco, the two will discover whether or not their love has endured.
The True Sources of the Nile generally received favorable reviews, William Ferguson calling it a "fine first novel" in his appraisal for the New York Times Book Review. Ferguson went on to note that "the novel's title is an ironic reflection of the difficulty of establishing even the most basic truths." Writing in the Library Journal, Karen Traynor called the book "stunning" and noted that the author "brings an authentic voice to this novel of life and death issues." Some reviewers, however, were less enamored. A Kirkus Reviews contributor commented that the novel "fails to engage as it tackles big themes." Writing in Booklist, Kristine Huntley found the heroine's family problems to be "somewhat grating" but added, "Overall, the author gives the reader a fascinating look into the lives of an outsider caught in the middle of a terrifying conflict." Still, most reviewers graded the effort highly. In a review in O, Vince Passaro called The True Sources of the Nile "a complex novel, clarified by a confident and wonderfully readable language. It's full of energy and place and fact." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that, "full of engaging parallels and paradoxes, the novel is an intricate study of family and tribal loyalty, and irrationality and its mirror image, rationalization."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2002, Kristine Huntley, review of The True Sources of the Nile, p. 1092.
Boston Globe, April 23, 2002, Michael Prager, review of The True Sources of the Nile, p. E6.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2002, review of The True Sources of the Nile, p. 217.
Library Journal, April 1, 2002, Karen Traynor, review of The True Sources of the Nile, p. 143.
Miami Herald, April 28, 2002, Betsy Willeford, review of The True Sources of the Nile.
New York Times Book Review, May 26, 2002, William Ferguson, review of The True Sources of the Nile, p. 17.
O, the Oprah Magazine, April, 2002, Vince Passaro, review of The True Sources of the Nile, p. 190.
Publishers Weekly, January 21, 2002, review of The True Sources of the Nile, p. 60.
BookPage.com, http://www.bookpage.com/ (June 7, 2002), Arlene McKanic, review of The True Sources of the Nile.
New College of California Web site, http://www.newcollege.edu/ (April 19, 2005), "Sarah Stone."