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Dakota Midday: Literary Art And Tragedy

Dr. Patrick Hicks, Writer-in-Residence at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, and Liz Patro, a Portland, Oregon-based writer whose short stories and essays have appeared in over two-dozen literary journals and magazines join Dakota Midday.

“My Brother’s Bomber” is a three part series that airs on FRONTLINE.  When filmmaker Ken Dornstein was 19 years old, his older brother David was one of 189 Americans killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.  Nearly three decades later, only one suspect, a Libyan man, was ever convicted of the terror plot, which killed 270 people in total.  Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi was sentenced to life in prison but later released; who else was involved remains an open question.  In “My Brother’s Bomber,” Dornstein embarks on a quest for answers — diving deep into the case files, assembling a list of suspected plotters, and tracking them across the Middle East and Europe. 

One of Patrick Hicks’ relatives had the incredible task of mapping where all of the debris fell on that small city, and what he saw haunted him for years.  In fact, he helped to design the memorial that is now there.  Hicks wrote about this in "57 Gatwick.”  It’s in his latest collection, The Collector of Names.  Liz Prato recently wrote a short story about Pan Am 103 as well.  Prato watched one of her best friends grieve as she lost several friends on that flight.  Prato’s short story appears in her latest collection, Baby’s on Fire.  Hicks’ and Prato’s most recent collections have come out within the last six months and they were both surprised to see Pan Am 103 in the news again.  They join Dakota Midday to visit about “My Brother’s Bomber,” what the bombing means today and how literary art can be a useful tool in understanding tragedy. 

Cara Hetland is the Director of Radio and Journalism Content for South Dakota Public Broadcasting.