Author Elliot Ackerman on 'Red Dress in Black and White'

Man wearing a dark jacket on the street; cover of a book.
Veteran and journalist Elliot Ackerman is the author of the memoir "Places and Names: On War, Revolution and Returning" and several novels. His latest work is "Red Dress in Black & White."
Photo by Huger Foote. Cover image courtesy of Penguin Random House.

In 2013, a sit-in to protest the development plans of a historic park in Istanbul morphed into something else: an indictment on the government of Turkey and weeks of protests. It’s an important event in Turkish history and also plays a role in the latest novel from author Elliot Ackerman, “Red Dress in Black and White.”

The novel, which takes place over the course of a day, dives into the lives of an American woman, her Turkish husband, son, and a photographer with whom she’s having an affair. Her goal is to return to the U.S., but the novel goes beyond this and the relationships between the four as Ackerman turns his eye to political intrigue.

While the novel is set in Turkey, the look at politics goes beyond the country’s borders.

Ackerman said what was freeing about writing the book “was it allowed me to engage with themes I think are also American themes, political themes that at this time, it’s very difficult to write about in a work of fiction because emotions here are so high,” he said. “There’s just not enough space to engage in a novel with politics that are immediate to this moment. Sometimes you have to take that step to the side to engage with similar themes.”

MPR News host Kerri Miller spoke with Ackerman about his latest novel; writing about past emotional events in a way that readers can connect with; and how his life -- including his work as a journalist and time in the military  -- influences his fiction.

Guest: 

  • Elliot Ackerman is the author of several books. His latest is “Red Dress in Black and White.”

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