Up & Coming Weekly

August 23, 2022

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 18 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM 18 UCW AUGUST 24 - 30, 2022 'Crawdads' book may have a connection to Africa by D.G. MARTIN LITERATURE D.G. MARTIN, PBS-NC's Book- watch. COMMENTS? Editor@ upandcomingweekly.com. 910- 484-6200 Was "Where the Crawdads Sing" set in North Carolina — as both the book and movie assert — and where, according to her publisher, the author Delia Owens now lives? Or in Georgia where Owens grew up? Or in Louisiana where the film was made? Or in the African country of Zambia where Owens and her former husband are wanted for questioning in connec- tion with an investigation of a death almost 30 years ago? e bestselling book has sold more than 15 million copies and the film opened in July with domestic gross ticket sales of almost $70 million. e "Crawdads" story is summa- rized by Jeffrey Goldberg, editor of e Atlantic in the magazine's July edition. It is, he writes, about "a girl in 1950s North Carolina who, through a series of improbable events, is forced to raise herself in an isolated swamp. Kya Clark, the protagonist, is, like Delia, a naturalist and loner" and is accused of "the murder of a caddish local bigshot, Chase Andrews." Was North Carolina the real setting Owens had in mind for Kya's story? e lands and waters described in Owens' book fit the Georgia coastal ar- eas better than North Carolina's coast. Also, many North Carolina readers and moviegoers were surprised at the idea that Asheville, as described in the book and movie, was just a short drive from Kya's coastal marsh. Something must be amiss. e moviemakers chose Louisiana and its swamps and marshes to film the movie version of Kya's story. But Goldberg, e Atlantic editor, thinks that Owens found Kya through her own experiences, not in North Carolina or Georgia or Louisiana, but rather in Africa. In an April 5, 2010, e New Yorker article titled "e Hunted: Did American conservation- ists in Africa go too far?" Goldberg described how Delia and her then husband Mark, "two graduate stu- dents in biology at the University of Georgia, were seized by the idea of resettling in remotest Africa." "When they arrived in January 1974, Delia, the daughter of a Georgia truck- ing executive, was 24 years old. Mark, who grew up on a farm west of Toledo, Ohio, was 29, the divorced father of a four-year-old boy named Christopher." Operating first in Botswana and then in Zambia, "Despite penury, loneliness, and drought, they estab- lished a viable research station" and learned how to gain the trust of the animals and to work funding sources. ey were determined to protect the animals from the rampant activities of poachers who threatened to destroy the ecosystem. Relations with local authorities were often tense. According to Goldberg, Mark "had gradually come to command a corps of game scouts in North Luangwa, outside of Zambian-government over- sight, by buying their loyalty through the provision of weapons, boots, and money; that they had militarized the 2,400-square-mile park (Delia wrote in one of their books that Mark created a special unit of scouts who would earn new guns, jungle knives, binoculars, and compasses for standout perfor- mance); that Mark's adult son from his first marriage, Christopher Owens, had been placed in charge of train- ing the game scouts in hand-to-hand combat; and that Christopher Owens frequently beat the game scouts as a form of discipline." In March 1996, ABC news aired a documentary about Mark and Delia and their work, including the killing of an alleged poacher. Goldberg writes that Zambian officials told him that "Mark, Delia, and Christopher Owens are still wanted for questioning related to the killing of the alleged poacher, as well as other possible criminal activities." Like Kya, Delia Owens has had to deal with an overhang of possible criminal charges. Goldberg writes that he was surprised that the book's themes "so obviously echoed aspects of Delia Owens's life in Zambia." So, if we want to visit the place where Kya's story developed, perhaps we should go not to the marshes of North Carolina, Georgia, or Louisi- ana, but to the plains and forests of Zambia. Presents Gates open 5:00 Daniel Cross 6:00-7:00 Tuesday's Gone 7:30-10:00 FREE CONCERT! Food, Soft Drinks, Beer & Wine on Sale, Cash Bar w/ all ABC Permits PLUS Music, dancing, food + Fun! All American Homes KIM EVERS TEAM Daniel Cross Continue the fun at our After Party 10 pm-UNTIL September 2nd with Special Guest

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