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Intersection - Unbound Book Festival Authors Talk Inclusion, Lost Stories and Identity

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Today on Intersection, we’re sharing interviews with local authors coming to the Unbound Book Festival this weekend, and also exploring concerns about diversity and expression at the festival. Unbound is a three-day event that brings authors from all over the world to Columbia to talk and share insight on their work. The event runs from April 19 to the 21, and will be held in venues across Columbia, including The Missouri Theatre and Stephens College. This year's headline speaker is author Zadie Smith.

As we put together this show, we learned of people voicing concerns over diversity and inclusion at the Unbound Book Festival, particularly on several panels with all white participants. 

Ibtisam Barakat, a Palestinian-American author, posted a statement to Facebook about a week ago saying she was encouraged by these discussions to reveal racism experienced while participating in an Unbound panel last year. Barakat talked with producer Abby Ivory-Ganja about her experience. Sara Shahriari spoke with festival organizer Alex George about what will change for the festival going forward.  

Intersection's Betsy Smith also talked with some of the local authors featured at Unbound this year: Nina Furstenau, author of “Biting through the Skin: An Indian Kitchen in America’s Heartland;” and Julija Šukys, author of “Siberian Exile: Blood, War, and a Granddaughter’s Reckoning.” 

Assistant Producers for this show are Betsy Smith and Ahmed Jawadi.

Sara Shahriari is the assistant news director at KBIA-FM, and she holds a master's degree from the Missouri School of Journalism. Sara hosts and is executive producer of the PRNDI award-winning weekly public affairs talk show Intersection. She also works with many of KBIA’s talented student reporters and teaches an advanced radio reporting lab. She previously worked as a freelance journalist in Bolivia for six years, where she contributed print, radio and multimedia stories to outlets including Al Jazeera America, Bloomberg News, the Guardian, the Christian Science Monitor, Deutsche Welle and Indian Country Today. Sara’s work has focused on mental health, civic issues, women’s and children’s rights, policies affecting indigenous peoples and their lands and the environment. While earning her MA at the Missouri School of Journalism, Sara produced the weekly Spanish-language radio show Radio Adelante. Her work with the KBIA team has been recognized with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and PRNDI, among others, and she is a two-time recipient of funding from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
Elena Rivera is a graduate student at the University of Missouri with a focus in radio reporting. She has reported and produced stories on arts and culture, education and mental health for KBIA. She received a B.A. in Communication and International Studies from Hope College in Holland, Michigan. Before coming to KBIA, Elena worked as the Career Development Specialist for a North Carolina non-profit called Dress for Success Triangle, which helped unemployed and underemployed women find jobs.