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Q&A with “Triage” Novelist Scott Anderson

November 29, 2009

source: Jump In Magazine

Scott Anderson – The Coolest Man in Journalism
By Sasha Sanchez

A veteran war journalist with a daughter. He is a contributor for New York Times Magazines and Vanity Fair. Author of the novel Triage, Moonlight Hotel, The Man Who tried to Save the World, and War Zones (co-wrote with his brother Jon Lee Anderson). Last week Scott chatted with us about; dehumanizing, Israel and Palestine, Stalin, and renting in conflict zones.

Q:How long have you been a journalist?

A: I’ve been doing magazine stuff for about 15 or 16 years. I came to do it in a roundabout way. When I was 18 or 19, I decided I wanted to be a novelist. I didn’t go to college. I just spent a lot of years working at odd jobs; waiter, bartender, and casino work. Gradually, I realized that journalism was something that interested me. I grew up overseas, so I always knew what was going on around the world. I found that by going to war zones or where bad stuff is happening, I could get people to pay me to do it. It seemed pretty cool. I’ve never done daily reporting. Typically I would go to a place and spent three to five weeks in a place and write one long article –8 to 10 thousand words.

Q: Where do you grow up?

A: I grew up mainly in East Asia. My father was an agricultural advisor for the American government. I grew up in Taiwan and Korea primarily. I really didn’t spend much time in the States until I was a teenager. The way I was raised, odds were that I was going to have an unconventional life. It’s kind of hard to imagine that I was going to be a lawyer or something and settle down somewhere. I always enjoyed writing. I always enjoyed traveling. I found this niche that worked out.

Q:What was your first article?

A: My very first article was for Harpers magazine, I believe in ’94. I have been going to Northern Ireland a lot, hanging out in Belfast. I found the conflict there really fascinating; you could see the way war worked in microcosms. I spent a year in Belfast, and I met a lot of people in the IRA, who were running the underground economy. They kept the war effort going. I wrote this tell-all piece for Harper Magazine. Primarily people only knew that there would be a shooting here of a British solider or a cab driver was killed. I wrote this piece looking at all the financial underpinnings of the conflict. It got a lot of attention, because no one got that kind of access to the IRA before. That piece got me set on my way. The next couple of pieces I did, I did for the New York Times Magazine. The one I did about Chechnya turned into a non-fiction book. In the last few years I alternated between the New York Times Magazine and Vanity Fair.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Allison permalink
    December 2, 2009 5:14 pm

    We studied the book Triage in school, it was really good, can’t wait for the movie.

  2. Serena permalink
    December 2, 2009 10:06 pm

    I need to make a commitment to read this book, and I especially can’t wait to see the movie.

  3. Dan L. permalink
    December 24, 2009 8:48 pm

    thanks for posting this interview. i didn’t know anything about this author until i read this. interesting stuff.

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