Award–winning author, investigative journalist, and war reporter Anna Badkhen was selected as the 2018 recipient of the residency. She gave a reading and talk, “The Contemporary Writer on Social Responsibility,” on October 12 on the UH-Mānoa Campus.

Since 2001, Ms. Badkhen has been writing about conflicts and wars on three continents. Based on her extended stays in remote communities, her essays and dispatches have been published in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Foreign Policy, New Republic, FRONTLINE/World, and elsewhere.

For her reporting on civilians in war zones, she received the Joel R. Seldin Award from Psychologists for Social Responsibility.


Badkhen is also the author of six books of literary nonfiction, most recently Fisherman’s Blues: A West African Community at Sea (2018). Barry Lopez describes the book as “a work of quiet genius...[Badkhen’s] patient consideration of what matters most in human life is unexpectedly hopeful.” Author James McBride calls Badkhen “one of the most creative and important non-fiction writers in our era.”

This event was presented in cooperation with Mānoa: A Pacific Journal and the UHM English Department Creative Writing Program; additional support was provided by Halekulani Corporation.

KHPR-FM interview

Reflection on a visit to Hawai‘i by Anna Badkhen

Photograph by Frank Stewart

Photograph by Frank Stewart

It rained over Honolulu on the last night of my fellowship: water from the south sluicing down dozens of stories of opulence and newlywed hope, banging on the windows of students and government workers, drenching homeless people in inadequate tents and unionized hotel workers on their fifth day of a strike; and, beneath, I imagined, anointing ancestral bones, those that remain, and feeding all the gardens, before runneling off into the depthless ocean and rising again, to fall elsewhere. An epitome of what Hawai'i kept pointing out to me: that seeing beauty amidst iniquity seems a tall order but I insist we must, otherwise we will not survive our own history of violence; that making art is not enough—but no one thing is, or can be, or should be; that an artist's intimate investigations into the world's workings remind us that we are not alone, that someone else is as perplexed and bereft and amazed as we are, and that they believe in the obligation to take their sense of inadequacy and their confusion and maybe even their fear out into the world so as to probe: are you there, is anybody there, are we listening?