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Keillor Abroad

July 11, 2003 |


Recently, I was in Butare, Rwanda, at the National University and stopped in the library. I found 10 copies of Leaving Home and one copy of Lake Wobegon translated into French. Is it satisfying to know your words have reached the far corners of the world—even in a small, dusty town in East Africa. I should note that I did not look to see how often the books were checked out.

David Shepardson

David, once a book is written, it doesn't exactly belong to the author anymore. It's expelled out into the world to make its way, sink or swim, and he goes off to do something else. The book Leaving Home is a curiosity to me. It would be a curiosity in English or in French, in Anoka or in Rwanda. If I picked it up, I'd be a little amazed at having written it and then I'd start thinking about all the people I neglected in order to do the work and I'd feel bad. So I don't pick up old books. I confess my sins and go on to commit new ones. I just finished a novel, which comes out in August, and I'm at work on a new novel now, which is about tomatoes. Don't look back.

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