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How Fast Can You Run?--A Novel Based on the Life of Micahel Majok Kuch

Harvard Square Press

This hour, we hear about the life of Michael Majok Kuch, a featured "Lost Boy of Sudan" from the PBS documentary "Dinka Diaries," as described in the poet Harriet Levin Millan's first novel "How Fast Can You Run." (Harvard Square Press). 

Millan, a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, teaches creative writing at Drexel University in Philadelphia.  Millan met Majok (or "Michael")  when her creative writing class interviewed Sudanese immigrants.  The real-life South Sudanese protagonist braved war, hunger and desperate illness before arriving in the United States as a refugee.  He was separated from is family at the age of five during Sudan's civil war.  He set off to find his mother after his village was burned down.  Michael was then uprooted from the Dinka plains of Southern Sudan to Kakuma refugee camp to Nairobi and then on to Philadelphia. 

Michael returned to his homeland of South Sudan in 2011 after attending high school, college and grad school in Philadelphia.  He graduated at the top of his class and was chosen to represent the student body in a commencement speech at his college graduation.  He currently works for the government of South Sudan where he is an advisor in the Office of the President.  Millan also helped to reunite Michael with his mother, who still lives in South Sudan.

More than the story of Michael, "How Fast Can You Run" informs and addresses the hardships, tragedies and wonders facing the 65 million refugees currently displaced by regional and international conflict.

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Dennis Reese was the mid-day host for Iowa Public Radio