Program Recap: At Lunch with Emily Bowen Cohen

January 18, 2024
by Rebeca Miller

This program originally aired on Thursday, January 18th at 12:30pm ET.

Julie Salamon sat down with Emily Bowen Cohen, author of the graphic novel Two Tribes to discuss creating the book and how her own personal experiences served as inspiration for the story. Emily is Jewish and a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. When she was 9 years-old her father passed away and she was separated from her Native family. After giving birth to her own children Emily decided to reconnect with her Oklahoma family, a move that upon reflection has made her feel more whole in her identity. Emily shares with us the story of her family, her parents relationship to Judaism and Catholicism and how she met her Orthodox Jewish husband at Harvard University. Emily was an artist with the Harvard Lampoon, and considered herself mostly a visual artist until writing her book. We hear from Emily how difficult it is at times to live firmly inside two cultures who have experienced pain and loss, and how October 7th has magnified that in this moment. She looks at storytelling as a form of medicine, how it can be used to cope with things that are unfathomable. She sees echos in both Native and Jewish humor as a way to communally process pain and find connection.

Topics covered in this program: Graphic novels, Native writers, Native Jewish identity, Oklahoma, religious family traditions, faith, Killers of the Flower Moon, Israel and Hamas War, humor, storytelling.