Thursday, December 20, 2012

Kim Barnes

Kim Barnes's books include two memoirs, In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country—a finalist for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize—Hungry for the World, and the novels Finding Caruso and A Country Called Home.

Her latest novel is In the Kingdom of Men. It is the story of a young American woman who follows her husband to the oil fields of Saudi Arabia. In the American compound she meets women who drink alcohol, wear fancy dresses, and have stylish hairdos. But life outside the compound is far more restrictive.

From the transcript of Barnes's Q & A with Diane Rehm:

REHM Thanks, Kim. I know that members of your own family went to work for Aramco in Saudi Arabia.

BARNES Mm-hmm.

REHM Tell us a little about that history.

BARNES My aunt and uncle in the early '60s, he was a roughneck, for Halliburton actually, and was recruited by Aramco to job out and move to Arabia and the compound of Abqaiq, and they lived there for a couple of years until their two sons were old enough to have to go to boarding school, and they made the decision then to move back to Oklahoma where my family's all from.

REHM So you talked to them extensively about their life there?

BARNES I didn't. At first, I was raised in the very isolated logging camps of north central Idaho. My father was never a gypo logger, which comes from the words gypsy. And I didn't really know my aunt and uncle because they were living in Oklahoma and then in Arabia. But what I knew came to me at Christmas when they came home for a visit because with them they brought gifts for me, little camel-hide purses embossed with caravans, and little Aladdin slippers with the little turned-up toe, and they were so exotic, and they still smelled like...[read on]
Listen to the interview.

The Page 69 Test: In the Kingdom of Men.

Writers Read: Kim Barnes.

My Book, The Movie: In the Kingdom of Men.

--Marshal Zeringue