Listeners Talk More on Kosovo, Closing of Popular Bookstore

The program's listeners have their say, offering feedback to recent stories about Kosovo's recent independence from Serbia, a single dad's search for love and how a popular businessman's love life helped influence him to close shop.

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MICHEL MARTIN, Host:

And now it's time for Backtalk, where we lift the curtain on conversations happening on the TELL ME MORE blog. We get a chance to hear from you. Lee Hill, our Web producer, joins me in the studio, as always. Hey Lee, what are folks talking about out there?

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Well, they're talking about a lot of things. We discussed some provocative issues since our last Backtalk, so it doesn't quite surprise me. First, Kosovo. The recent vote to declare independence from Serbia has a lot of folks talking out there. We seem to have gotten on the bad side of some of our listeners after we aired a conversation in which Kosovar Albanians in the U.S. reacted to the news.

Well, as a follow-up the other day, we brought you perspectives from Serbs. Regardless of where folks stand on the historic vote, there's a lot of emotion about this. Listen to these words posted to our blog from Talan(ph), who describes himself as an Albanian living in Toronto.

TALAN: I believe independence is the only and the best solution for both Kosovars and Serbs. I hope Kosovo heals from all its horrific past and moves on as a diverse, multi-ethnic society with European Union integration aspiration. Martin Luther King once said I have a dream. Kosovars can now say they had a dream, the dream of one day being a free people.

MARTIN: Thank you, Talan, and for all of you who wrote to us on this. We are still following this story, and there may additional conversations we are going to want to have.

In a special Mocha Moms conversation, we brought you the story of Hollywood screenwriter Trey Ellis, a single dad. Ellis talked to us about his new book, "Bedtime Stories," and his status as an eligible bachelor who also has kids. Tanya(ph), a listener who does not have children, wanted to share some thoughts about how she interpreted the conversation.

TANYA: I date and have dated men with children. If your guests are not pursuing healthy, adult, intimate relationships, they are not providing a healthy example for their children. I want a loving man and children and believe I can have both.

HILL: Okay, Tanya, we got the message. Well finally, we talked to the CEO and co-founder of Karibu Books. That was the nation's largest black-owned bookstore chain until recently, when Simba Sana decided to pull the plug, citing not so much the competition but issues pertaining to his love life and what he describes as a very personal spiritual journey.

Now Michel, from the conversation, I had to admit at first I had a hard time connecting the dots on how his personal relationships translated into the closing of his business, but that's okay. We heard from Claire(ph) who understood exactly what Simba was describing to us.

MARTIN: What a wise man. I think his advice about love and relationships in business is so true. I've spent time working and living in bookstores. One thing that struck me is the incredible joy that the bookstore brought to Mr. Sana's life, but at the same time, his ability to realize with acceptance and humility that it was over. I find this to be true among all bookstore owners I know and respect.

And Michel, I have to add after speaking with Simba after the show, I did get a somewhat better understanding of where he was coming from in his story.

MARTIN: Well thank you, Claire, and thank you, Lee.

HILL: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: Remember to tell us more about what you think, and to see what other listeners are talking about, go to npr.org/tellmemore and blog it out.

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