Joy Keys chats with Author Andrea Lee about Red Island House

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Andrea Lee is an American-born author of novels, memoirs and short fiction that explore themes of identity and concepts of foreignness. Her writing takes on the borderlands, creating an ongoing dialogue around the places where cultures, races and imaginations intersect. Her subject matter often draws on her childhood in a middle-class Black family whose children "pioneered" into white spaces, and on her adult life as a world traveler and expatriate in Europe. Born in Philadelphia, she attended the Baldwin School, and received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Harvard University. She is a former staff writer for The New Yorker, and her writing has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vogue, W, the New York Times Book Review, and Airmail. Her books include the National Book Award-nominated memoir Russian Journal, the novel Sarah Phillips, the short story collection Interesting Women, and the novel Lost Hearts in Italy. Her latest book, Red Island House (Scribner, 2021) is a travel epic set in the African nation of Madagascar, that examines post-colonial themes of class and race and fantasies of tropical paradise through the eyes of an adventurous Black American heroine.

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