Best-selling Author Sue Monk Kidd chats about "The Book of Longings" and the Coronavirus Pandemic

Apr 29, 2020

Bestselling author Sue Monk Kidd is out with her latest novel about a young woman who marries Jesus
Credit Tony Pearce

People are looking for things to do while they are stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic and reading a good book has become on the most popular choices.

Enter celebrated novelist and #1 New York Times bestselling author, Sue Monk Kidd.  Her lastest novel The Book of Longings is considered by many as one of the most anticipated books of 2020.

Sue Monk Kidd joined WBGO News Director Doug Doyle from her home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

"I do believe that people are reading more right now at home.  They've already finished the internet, NetFlix and all that.  They are reading.  I hear that a great deal.  I feel like books are connecting us together.  We're creating a virtual book club for The Book of Longings that you can find out about it on my website.  We can come together online and discuss things. It is an interesting shift in how we go about it.  It's very sad to me though that many books are closed, but they have some creating ways to get books out there anyway."

Sue Monk Kidd spoke to WBGO's Doug Doyle from her home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Credit twitter.com

In her new novel, Kidd usues her master storytelling ability to take an audacious appreach to history in giving voices and life to Ana, the wife of Jesus.  Readers first encourter Ana at age fourteen.  She comes from a wealthy family and is rebellious and ambitious.  Kidd says she Ana defies the expectations place on women in 1st centry Galilee women. When Ana meets 18-year old Jesus, he awakens her heart and each is drawn to ucommon love, ordinary tensions and humor in Nazarthe where they live for nearly a decade.

What prompted the idea of this relationship in Sue Monk Kidd's ambitious mind?

"It started one afternoon when I was reading an article in National Geographic about a manuscript that had been discovered called 'The Gospel of Jesus' Wife' and even though this manuscript is a papyrus frament and it turned out to be a masterful fraud later, I was fascinated by just the imaginative idea of Jesus having a wife and who would she be?  It was so captivating to me at the moment that it struck that I could almost picture and a name came to me Anna.  And I thought I'm going to write her story because if she ever really existed, and I have no idea whether or not a wife existed for him, then she would be the most silenced woman in history."

Kidd says she wanted to give Anna a voice so the acclaimed writer spent about four and a half years doing just that.

"I feel like there is a kind of missing feminine element or women on the peripheries on religion or historical  context even though things have improved dramatically, we still have a long way to go in having an egalitarian situation in religion.  So that was in the back of my mind too, it always is."

Sue Monk Kidd's debut "The Secret Life of Bees" was originally published in 2001 and has sold more than 6-million copies in the U.S.
Credit suemonkkidd.com

Monk's debut in 2002, The Secret Life of Bees, spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and has sold more than 6-million copies in the U.S. and was turned into a motion picture and a musical. The film is noted for Newark's own Queen Latifah's critically accalimed performance as "August Boatwright".  It is also starred Dakota Fanning as "Lily Owens".

With the success of her following books The Mermaid Chair and The Invention of Wings, Kidd says she was still found writing about Jesus to be extremely formidable.

"I had some trepidation about this after I had my moment of being so captivated by the idea.  Then, of course, reality sets in and you think what have I bitten off here?  Underneath that was always a real longing to write this story."

The Book of Longings is published by Penguin Publishing Group.

Click above to hear the entire conversation with Sue Monk Kidd and find out why she and her husband are making sure they're staying at home during the crisis.