In Episode 6 of the podcast, I speak with my father, novelist and bestselling non-fiction author Robert W. Fuller. We discuss:
- his transitions from physicist to college president to citizen diplomat to full-time writer;
- why perseverance is one of the most important qualities a writer can develop;
- the origin of his theory of rankism and his book, SOMEBODIES AND NOBODIES: OVERCOMING THE ABUSE OF RANK;
- the best moment during the 20 years he spent writing his novel, THE ROWAN TREE;
- his “rolling process” of constant revision;
- how he landed a feature in the NY TImes by “taking every gig”;
- why he chose to self publish his novel after publishing two non-fiction books traditionally;
- his advice to his former writing self: avoid sentimentality.
Plus, on “Today in Writing”—The Blacklist. And on “Today in NOT Writing,” more music from The Looking.
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About our guest:
Robert W. Fuller earned his Ph.D. in physics at Princeton University and taught at Columbia, where he co-authored Mathematics of Classical and Quantum Physics. After serving as president of Oberlin College, he became a citizen diplomat and set about improving international relations during the Cold War. During the 1990s, he served as board chair of the nonprofit global corporation Internews, promoting democracy via free and independent media.
After the Cold War ended with the collapse of the USSR, Fuller reflected on his career and realized that he had been, at different times in his life, a somebody and a nobody. His periodic sojourns into “Nobodyland” led him to identify rankism—abuse of the power inherent in rank—and ultimately to writeSomebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank. Three years later, he published a sequel that focuses on building a “dignitarian society” titled All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity. With co-author Pamela Gerloff, he has also published Dignity for All: How to Create a World Without Rankism. His most recent books are Religion and Science: A Beautiful Friendship?, Genomes, Menomes, Wenomes: Neuroscience and Human Dignity, Belonging: A Memoir, and The Rowan Tree: A Novel.
As a recognized authority on dignity and rankism, Robert Fuller’s ideas and books have been widely covered in the media, including The New York Times,National Public Radio, C-SPAN, The Boston Globe, the BBC, Voice of America, and O, The Oprah Magazine.