When ten-year-old Elizabeth West's father dies in a tragic plane crash over the Persian Gulf, her family uproots their life in Washington, D.C., and moves to London. Her mother marries a knighted British businessman who has two children, and Elizabeth (Lizzy) and her two sisters move in with their new family. At age sixteen, while attending the American School of London, Lizzy meets and falls in love with Adil Hasan-- but when Adil's father, a noted arms middleman, is deported, Lizzy and Adil are separated. Lizzy's family has also become involved with French-German industrialist Gerald Rene Wagner. Little does she know that Adil's family has ties to the man, as well. When a member of her family is murdered in Berlin under mysterious circumstances, questions surface about Wagner's dealings, and Lizzy reexamines what really may have happened to her father. All the while, she endeavors to reunite with her lost love, Adil, and reclaim the connection that was ripped away. Set in the years before and after the first Gulf War, Burning Distance is a journey through family secrets and competing loyalties, contemporary history, and the dark world of arms trafficking.
Joanne Leedom-Ackerman is a novelist, short story writer, and journalist whose works of fiction include The Dark Path to the River and No Marble Angels. Her recent nonfiction book, PEN Journeys: Memoir of Literature on the Line, drew inspiration from her job as a vice president of the worldwide writers and human rights organization PEN International. She is also on the boards of the American Writers Museum, the International Center for Journalists, Words Without Borders, and Refugees International. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Texas Institute of Letters. Burning Distance is her latest novel.
Leedom-Ackerman will be in conversation with Azar Nafisi. Nafisi is the author of the multi-award-winning New York Times bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran, as well as Things I’ve Been Silent About, The Republic of Imagination, and That Other World. Her most recent book Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times, is a guide to the power of literature in turbulent times, arming readers with a resistance reading list. Formerly the director of The Dialogue Project and Cultural Conversations at Johns Hopkins University’s Foreign Policy Institute, she served as a Centennial Fellow at Georgetown University and has taught at Oxford and several universities in Tehran.