Last night, April 24th, 2017, the Oregon Book Awards took place in Portland. Eve of a Hundred Midnights was nominated for the Frances Fuller Victor award for general nonfiction. While the book didn't win, it was such an honor to be chosen a finalist. Moreover, being asked to write some remarks in case I did win proved to be a wonderful opportunity to reflect on all of the people I appreciated for making this book possible. Here's what I would have said, because it's all still true:
Today marks the 75th anniversary of what could have been the last time my grandmother, her parents, and the rest of her family heard the voice of Melville Jacoby, my grandma's beloved oldest cousin and the subject of my book. That night three quarters of a century ago, everyone gathered around their radio listening to the March of Time, hoping to hear from Mel, a reporter who, with his wife, the journalist and former MGM screenwriter Annalee Whitmore Jacoby, had just survived a month-long escape from the Philippines, and six weeks of reporting from the front lines of Bataan and Corregidor.
Mel's broadcast failed and his family didn't get to hear his voice again. However, three quarters of a century later, thanks to my grandmother, Peggy, and her sister, Jackee, I've been able to give voice to his story. This award honors not just them, or Mel, but the people whose voices were only heard because Mel sacrificed so much as a foreign correspondent.
It's an honor to be nominated among this wonderful group of fellow writers, in part because many of them have produced work that amplifies the voices and subjects too often overlooked, marginalized or forgotten.
I would not have been able to tell this story were it not for others in my family as well, especially my mother, Wendy — my first and often shrewdest editor — her siblings, and my own siblings. Likewise, my partner, Andrea, has helped me survive every stage of this book's production and championed me even when I second-guess myself
Over the course of seven and a half years, more than half of which I spent on this book, Oregon has become my home. While today, too many ominous signs remind me of the dark world in which Mel and Annalee worked as reporters, the community I've found here in Oregon and what I like to call its "pot luck" culture are key reasons why I'm hopeful we'll all be able to survive whatever comes next. Many of those I've met here, whether writers or not, have contributed something that helped me make this book possible, and in turn, ensured that I have been able to get Mel's voice heard once again.