September 29, 2017

Author Andrew Solomon: Conversations from the Sun Valley Writers' Conference

Andrew Solomon

Professor and author Andrew Solomon relates how he went from being a bullied child suffering from depression to an award-winning journalist traveling the world.

The conversation was taped at the 2017 Sun Valley Writers' Conference as part of Dialogue's ongoing series from the renowned event.

"I would not have chosen to be depressed," says Solomon. "And if I could redo my life without any depression, I would choose not to have depression.

"But given that I didn't have any choice, and that I was stuck with this paralyzing, awful, painful experience, the only way I could think to get through it is to insist on finding some form of meaning in it."

Solomon's 2001 book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, looks at how the medical establishment and society have viewed and treated depression over the centuries. It won the National Book Award for Nonfiction and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His most recent book, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, tells the stories of families raising exceptional children who not only learn to deal with their challenges, but also find profound meaning in doing so.

Franklin talks with Solomon -- who is a professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University Medical School -- about those books, as well as Far and Away, his memoir about his travels as a journalist around the world. Solomon believes that many of the tensions in the world could be ameliorated if more people traveled.

"I think that if we could get a program in place which would cause everyone before the age of 30 to spend at least two weeks in a foreign country, that half of the world's diplomatic problems would disappear," says Solomon.

"I think there's so much lack of understanding simply of what it means to be elsewhere or what it feels like to live elsewhere."

The program can be streamed at after it airs. Previous episodes of Dialogue from the Sun Valley Writers' Conference can be streamed at