- Description: Cathleen Miller is a nonfiction writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her latest work is Champion of Choice, the biography of UN leader Nafis Sadik (University of Nebraska Press 2013).
An American by birth, Miller has traveled around the globe to write her books telling the stories of people and places. She has interviewed diplomats and heads of state on five continents, patients in an Addis Ababa hospital, rape camp survivors in Kosovo, and midwives in the mountains of East Timor. Her work sometimes places her in strange circumstances, for example cruising St. Petersburg in a Winnebago to interview prostitutes, and running down a Brazilian mountain at midnight fleeing bandits. Miller’s biography of Nafis Sadik, Champion of Choice, is the result of ten years of work and many, many strange circumstances.
A winner of the Society of American Travel Writers’ gold award, Miller’s travel essays have appeared in the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times. She teaches creative writing at San José State University.
In 1997 Miller wrote Desert Flower, the life story of Waris Dirie, which describes the Somali nomad’s experience with female genital mutilation. This book’s print version has sold 11 million copies in 55 languages, and the UN believes it has had a major impact on stopping FGM. In 2009 Desert Flower was adapted as a feature film by Oscar-winner Peter Herrmann; it has been released in 34 nations to date.
In both Desert Flower and Champion of Choice, Miller utilizes storytelling as a rhetorical device to demonstrate how the issues which affect one individual are representative of a larger world order. The personal is political.