In her first novel, Hazel Reitz, a former State Department refugee officer and now a board member of the Women’s Refugee Commission,
draws on her visits to Eastern Chad to monitor the situation of 250,000 refugees who fled the fighting in Darfur and took refuge in a remote
region on the border with Sudan. Samantha James, MD, leaves San Francisco to escape the memories of a broken marriage and travels to
a refugee camp on the Chad/Sudan border. People are pouring in seeking safety from unspeakable horrors in Sudan’s Darfur region. Doctor
James finds herself working in a hospital where, at times, the most rudimentary supplies are barely available. She also finds herself quite
unprepared for abiding by traditions that have developed over millennia, but are unknown to folks from the Western world. She is immersed
into a war that rages on and drags down all involved, particularly the refugees who must gather up what few belongings they can carry and
cross into Chad, another country that is desperately poor and unable to absorb thousands of new souls. Exacerbating the situation is the
apparent disdain towards her of the United Nations refugee official in charge of the humanitarian operation. As Sam struggles to deal with
the ordeals that befall her, her commitment to her refugee patients, particularly the women and children, and her admiration for the humanitarian
workers struggling to help them grows stronger. The affection of a small boy – and the prospect of a new love – bind Sam even more closely
to this desert land.
Mrs. Reitz now lives in San Francisco with her husband, Peter, currently Executive Director of the Small Property Owners of San Francisco
Institute and former Secretary General of CARE International.
March 15, 2010, 7:30 PM
The Odd Mondays Series prsents
Jan Kerouac (nee Janet Michelle Kerouac) (February 16, 1952 – June 5, 1996) was a writer and the only child of beat
generation author Jack Kerouac and Joan Haverty Kerouac. She was born in Albany, New York. Her mother left Jack
while pregnant, and Jack refused to acknowledge the baby as his daughter. A blood test when Jan was nine years old
proved his paternity. Though Jan met her father only twice, she inherited his wanderlust, and like both her parents, Jan
made frequent use of drugs and was no stranger to trouble. After a teenage stint in a mental hospital, Jan delved
deeper into the 1960s underworld of drugs, before leaving for Mexico at the age of fifteen. For the next few decades,
she traveled across the country with a reckless abandon that echoed that of her father and Neal Cassady.
Married and divorced twice, Jan lived a troubled life marked by periods of self-destruction. In 1968, she gave birth to
a stillborn child and had no other children.Jan was an extra in the film Heart Beat (1980), about her father's triangular
love affair with Carolyn Cassady and Neal Cassady, and she reportedly gave actor John Heard advice on how to curl
his lip like Jack did. She published two semi-autobiographical novels, Baby Driver in 1981, and Trainsong
in 1988. While working on her third novel, Parrot Fever, in Puerto Rico, her kidneys failed, sending her back
to the United States. She died in Albuquerque in 1996 of kidney disease.
At the time of her death, she was involved in legal battles with Stella Sampas Kerouac, Jack's last wife; and after Stella's
death, with Stella's blood relatives, over his estate, including the location of his grave and ownership of his papers.
On July 24, 2009, a judge in Pinellas County, Florida ruled that the will of Gabrielle Kerouac (died 1973) that gave
all rights to Jack Kerouac's work to the Sampas family, was a forgery. The legal action against this will was originally brought
by Jan Kerouac and a nephew of Jack's.
Author Gerald Nicosia, who at one time was Jan Kerouac's personal literary representative, edited and published
Jan Kerouac: A Life in Memory in January 2009.