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Gerrit Gong was born and raised in Palo Alto, California. He is the eldest of three siblings. Both of his parents were educators. His father was a university professor and his mother was an elementary school teacher. He has taught at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and and Brigham Young University. In the mid ‘80s, he worked for the U.S. government as special assistant to the Undersecretary of State at the State Department and special assistant to the U.S. ambassador in Beijing, China. At the time of this interview, he was the assistant to the president of Brigham Young University in Utah, focusing on planning and assessment. He is now a general authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Yale University, 1960, B.A., Scholar of the House in English
University of Oxford, 1962, Dipl., Anthropology
University of California-Los Angeles, 1963, M.A., Theater Arts
Yale Drama School, 1967, D.F.A., Playwriting
Leslie Epstein spent his childhood in the 1940s and 1950s in Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles, California. He was part of a Hollywood screenwriting family. His father and uncle, Philip and Julius, wrote classics like Arsenic and Old Lace and won an Academy Award for Casablanca. He is the author of seven novels and three short story collections. His most controversial work was the novel, King of the Jews, in which he examines European Jews who betrayed their own people to the Nazis. He also wrote an autobiographical novel called San Remo Drive in 2003. For over 20 years, he has been the director of the Creative Writing Program at Boston University.
Below is an hour-long talk we had while he ate lunch and cleared the dishwasher at his home in Brookline, Massachusetts.