The Story Behind A Girl Called Problem

My wonderful agent, Sara Crowe, asked me to write a short piece about the origins of A Girl Called Problem. The full story is on Sara’s blog, Crowe’s Nest. Here’s a short excerpt to get you started:

I moved to Tanzania, East Africa, a few months after I graduated from college.

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Tanzania’s there in dark orange–just below the equator.

On paper, my job was to teach writing and English to journalism students at a newly-formed university. The reality was that I did a little bit of teaching and a lot of learning during those two years. I was schooled in the many arts of basic living: washing clothes by hand, carrying water in a bucket on my head, and pounding rice in a giant mortar and pestle.

Katie Pounding rice

Me pounding rice. Yes, I know the glasses look a little silly–it was the 1990s.

I learned what it felt like to have malaria, typhoid and ecoli, and to value life in a place where almost everyone I knew had lost a sibling during childhood to a tropical disease. The most enjoyable lesson came in the form of informal, daily Swahili tutorials on my front porch with Tanzanian kids who congregated to play in the shade of a nearby flamboyant tree.

Read the full story on Sara’s blog.

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