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Helen Benedict      

Sexual Assault, Women, and War Expert; Award-Winning Author

Helen Benedict is a professor of journalism at Columbia University and the award-winning author of six novels and five books of nonfiction. Her latest novel, "Sand Queen," (Soho Press) tells the story of a young female soldier and an Iraqi woman caught up in the Iraq War. Publisher’s Weekly called "Sand Queen" “a thrilling and thoughtful new novel.” Booklist said, “Funny, shocking, painful, and, at times, deeply disturbing, 'Sand Queen' takes readers beyond the news and onto the battlefield.”

Helen based "Sand Queen" on the research she conducted for her nonfiction book "The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq," an exposé of the abuse and experiences of military women serving in the Iraq War. "The Lonely Soldier" won the National Women’s Political Caucus 2010 EMMA (Exceptional Merit in Media Award,) the 2010 Ken Book Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illnesses, and her related article in Salon magazine won the 2008 James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Helen’s play, "The Lonely Soldier Monologues," was performed in New York City in 2009 and 2010, and has been performed elsewhere in the country since.

Helen’s last novel, "The Edge of Eden," came out in paperback in November, 2010. Set in the remote islands of Seychelles in 1960, it concerns such issues as the legacy of slavery, and the power balance between men and women, servants and masters, children and adults. Another recent novel, "The Opposite of Love" (Viking, 2007), concerns race and the moral dilemmas involved in trying to rescue a child. Her other novels are "The Sailor’s Wife," set in Greece after the fall of the junta; "Bad Angel," about Dominican-Americans in New York, and "A World Like This," about a teenager in prison in England. Her last nonfiction book was "Virgin or Vamp: How the Press Covers Sex Crimes" (Oxford), and she has also written "Recovery: How to Survive Sexual Assault," and "Safe, Strong, and Streetwise."

Helen has taught fiction writing at the Auvillar and Paris Writer’s Workshops, and journalism at U.C. Berkeley. Her essays and book reviews have been frequently anthologized, and have been published in The New York Times, The Nation, The Washington Post, Salon, Ms., and elsewhere. Her novels have received citations for best book of the year from The L.A. Times and the Chicago and New York Public Libraries, and she has been granted fellowships from the Yaddo, MacDowell, Virginia Center for the Arts, the Ragdale Foundation, and Cummington Community of the Arts.

Helen lectures frequently about women at war, military culture, and the silencing of women soldiers. She has lectured at various venues such as West Point, Dartmouth College, Columbia University, Western Kentucky University, Hunter College, The New York Bar Association, The LA Library Aloud Series, Middlebury, Trinity, U.C. Berkeley, and at various conferences around the country. Over the last few years, she has been featured on ABC News, "Democracy Now," "The Roseanne Barr Radio Show," "Weekend America," NPR’s "Day to Day," Chicago Public Radio WBEZ’s "Worldview," and NPR’s "Here and Now," among many other places. Helen has also testified to the Congressional Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs about why soldiers rape and misogyny in the military, and to the Committee on Governmental Oversight and Reform about women in combat and their abuse at the hands of their comrades.

Born in England of American parents, she has lived in London, Mauritius, Seychelles, Paris and California, but now resides in New York.


Sand Queen

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