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Author Lesley Nneka Arimah dedicated her book, "What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky," to her father, thanking him for telling his stories.
These weren't stories she heard in her childhood. As she grew, her father slowly revealed his experience of the civil war in Nigeria. "There's a culture of silence around it ... they don't want their experiences to taint their children," Arimah told MPR News host Kerri Miller.
Even with that silence, she was aware of her father's past, manifesting in a bullet scar in his leg.
"It was sort of hovering above our childhood, these experiences that our parents lived through," she said.
These stories, the fact that he was 13 during the war, that he almost lost his leg, became "more and more complex as the years progressed," said Arimah. She doesn't think she'll ever know the full story.
Arimah first came to Minnesota in 2007. She was in grad school and in her 20's. She said that the move allowed her to "open up."
She said her Minnesota friends would be surprised to know that in her childhood home of Louisiana she was closed off.
"When I first moved to Louisiana from Nigeria, it was a culture shock for me," she said. "It was to my benefit to move as far away from home as I did."
A change in scenery also informed author Neil Gaiman and his latest, "Norse Mythology."
Gaiman was interested in the Norse gods from an early age. He read and reread tales about Thor and his father Odin until the pages fell out of his books.
Even with that depth of knowledge, he said a Minneapolis winter provided him with some much-needed education.
"Experiencing a world in which a winter can kill you if it wants to ... that really threw the Norse myths into focus for me," said Gaiman.
The harsh environment where the Norse myths were developed forced people to spend their winters in smoky halls, drinking, and "telling stories to survive."
To hear the full discussion use the audio player above.