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LAist Interview: Nina Revoyr

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Born in Japan as the only child of a Japanese mother and Anglo American father, novelist Nina Revoyr now makes her home in Los Angeles. Nina mines childhood experiences living in South Central to craft exquisite novels about the historical interrelationships between Angelenos of Asian American and African American descent. Indeed, her second novel, Southland, literally explores the historical connection between the two communities as the book's protagonist tries to solve a family mystery involving her grandfather's secret will and a 40 year old murder case that awakens memories of the internment of Japanese American citizens and Japanese nationals during WWII and the Watts Riots. The Los Angeles Times named the novel one of the best books of 2003. Nina's work has been featured in many magazines, newspapers, and radio shows, including the Los Angeles Times, Vanity Fair, and NPR's Weekend Edition.

Nina is focused on Los Angeles's future as well as its past. She is Vice President, Development and External Relations at the Children's Institute, Inc, a nonprofit that helps children who have been affected by violence in their homes or communities. Nina raises funds for the organization and also directs its communication programs, including print and web materials.

Age and Occupation:
36, Novelist

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How long have you lived in Los Angeles, and which neighborhood do you live in?
I first moved to LA with my dad in 1979. We lived in Hermosa, and then in Culver City, which I really felt was home. I left for a few years for school and a 2-year teaching stint in Japan, and returned for good in 1998. I live now in Glassell Park.

Why do you live in Los Angeles?
For the mountains, the ocean, the sun, the wonderful mix of people, the food, and the baseball (both Angels and Dodgers). For the sense that anything is possible here. Definitely not for the traffic.

What is your latest project about?
A Japanese silent film star in the 1910s and 20s. The silent film industry was developing at the same time that Little Tokyo was growing. It was fun to mix and match the various pioneers.

What surprises you about Los Angeles?
It surprises me that, in such a culturally diverse city, people are still so deeply divided. People won't drive over to check out another part of town.