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Matthew Gavin Frank in coversation with Kathleen Rooney, "Flight of the Diamond Smugglers: A Tale of Pigeons, Obsession, and Greed Along Coastal South Africa"

Calling all birders, true crime addicts, and history buffs as pigeon experts Matthew Gavin Frank and Kathleen Rooney (Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey) combine forces to celebrate Matthew's new book!

""Unforgettable. . . . An outstanding adventure in its lyrical, utterly compelling, and heartbreaking investigations of the world of diamond smuggling." --Aimee Nezhukumatathil

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About The Diamond Smugglers: For nearly eighty years, a huge portion of coastal South Africa was closed off to the public. With many of its pits now deemed "overmined" and abandoned, American journalist Matthew Gavin Frank sets out across the infamous Diamond Coast to investigate an illicit trade that supplies a global market. Immediately, he became intrigued by the ingenious methods used in facilitating smuggling?particularly, the illegal act of sneaking carrier pigeons onto mine property, affixing diamonds to their feet, and sending them into the air.

Entering Die Sperrgebiet ("The Forbidden Zone") is like entering an eerie ghost town, but Frank is surprised by the number of people willing--even eager--to talk with him. Soon he meets Msizi, a young diamond digger, and his pigeon, Bartholomew, who helps him steal diamonds. It's a deadly game: pigeons are shot on sight by mine security, and Msizi knows of smugglers who have disappeared because of their crimes. For this, Msizi blames "Mr. Lester," an evil tall-tale figure of mythic proportions.

From the mining towns of Alexander Bay and Port Nolloth, through the "halfway" desert, to Kleinzee's shores littered with shipwrecks, Frank investigates a long overlooked story. Weaving interviews with local diamond miners who raise pigeons in secret with harrowing anecdotes from former heads of security, environmental managers, and vigilante pigeon hunters, Frank reveals how these feathered bandits became outlaws in every mining town.

About Matthew Gavin Frank: Matthew Gavin Frank is the author of The Mad Feast and Preparing the Ghost, which was reviewed on the front-page of the New York Times Book Review. He teaches creative writing and lives in Marquette, Michigan.

About Kathleen Rooney: Kathleen Rooney is the author, most recently, of the novels Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey and Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk and the co-editor of René Magritte: Selected Writings (University of Minnesota Press, 2016). She is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press and a founding member of Poems While You Wait. Her previous work includes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction and has appeared in T he New York Times MagazineAllure, Salon, The Chicago TribuneThe Nation and elsewhere. She teaches English and creative writing at DePaul University and lives in Chicago with her spouse, the writer Martin Seay.

Event date: 
Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
Zoom
Flight of the Diamond Smugglers: A Tale of Pigeons, Obsession, and Greed Along Coastal South Africa Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781631496028
Availability: Special Order- EITHER on our shelves or available to order
Published: Liveright - February 23rd, 2021

Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143135425
Availability: Special Order- EITHER on our shelves or available to order
Published: Penguin Books - August 11th, 2020

Events Terms: 
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