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I am thrilled to see that Silver Sparrow is a Semifinalist in the Goodreads Readers Choice Awards thanks to write-in votes from readers. Now, I am asking you to help Silver Sparrow to make it up to the next round.
Thank you so much for being so supportive and just generally awesome.
I actually read Anita Hill’s new book, Reimagining Equality this summer, but it was just released yesterday. This is the what I wrote for the back of her book. It doesn’t really do justice to this complex and full-of-heart book that is clearly a labor of love.
“Combining the sincerity of memoir and the rigor of sociology, Anita Hill looks at home as a physical space, but also as a microcosm of American society. The women profiled in this engaging and moving book illustrate the challenges of living in America as a raced and gendered person while simultaneously demonstrating the beauty of resistance and the triumphs of family, community, and faith. Hill connects the dots between the home-making efforts of African Americans just after Reconstruction and the heartbreaking (and enraging) consequences of the subprime mortgage scandal. After reading this book, you will never see a house as just four walls and a roof. It is a dream and we, as Americans, are the dreamers.”
—Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow
(In other words, read this book.)
I just finished reading THE FAMILY FANG by Kevin Wilson. I scored a free copy at ALA this summer but I was too busy moving and touring to settle down to read it. About a month ago, I heard Kevin give a delightful reading at Harvard Bookstore so I scooted it up my to-read list. I am so glad I did.
If you are a person who enjoyed The Royal Tannenbaums, this is a book for you. It has all the idiosyncrasy of that film, but the richness that makes a novel really satisfying.
I started off reading it just for the quirkiness. Here’s the plot– two kids have grown up in a most bizarre family. The parents are performance artists and use the kids as part of the act. Sometimes, the children don’t even know there is a act. Now Buster and Annie, grown up and messed up, are forced to move back home. (I could go on, but I don’t want to spoil.) I chuckled my way through the first third of the story– what wacky parents! But somewhere around page 150, the narrative snuck up on me and got deep.
This is a novel that made me re-examine my own childhood and childhood as a concept– To what extent are kids bit players is all of our parents’ performances? Can you ever really grow up? And while we’re at it, what is art, anyway? What is love? What is sacrifice?
All of this, and it’s damn funny, too.
Bravo, Mr. Wilson. I am so proud of you!
This lovely coming of age by Bridgett M. Davis is one of my favorites. I love coming of age stories. This one is set in Detroit, so all you Michiganders should check it out. I was knocked out when I first read it a few years ago, and I decided to read it again. Rae is a character you will fall in love with. It’s a great book club pick, but also a great read if you happen to be on a really long book tour and need to lose yourself in a terriic story.
Michele Norris’s engrossing memoir is about the stories our families leave untold. This book is about the way that ordinary people resist prejudice with a quiet dignity. It also makes the case for women who put their pride aside to feed thier families. There’s no shame in taking care of the people you love. THE GRACE OF SILVENCE is a tough book in sections, but always inspiring and really well written. These are stories to be passed down through the generations.
I was so delighted to get an early copy of this buzed-up novel by the amazing young writer Justin Torres. I met him a few years ago at Breadloaf and was knocked out by his reading. And since then he has been racking up all kinds of awards. So far, this novel is a very short book that packs quite a punch. Cannot wait to finish it.
Pearl Cleage’s lastest Blue Hamilton novel stays #winning. This novel combines all the noir-ish intrigue of Baby Brother’s Blues and the optimistic romance of Some Things I Never Thought I Do. And you would think that would be plenty. But then, she adds vamipres. Black women vampires living in the West End area of Atlanta. I wanted to save this book for when my book tour took me far far from home, but I just couldn’t wait.
Here’s an excerpt, and you can click on the image to buy it from an indie bookstore.
Today I participated in the PEN World Voices Festival. It was kind of a quirky event– 10am outdoors at the Highline, which meant that we were reading on a brigde over a very busy street. The audience were high school students who were kind of into it and kind of not. I was lucky– I was early on the schedule when the kids were still feeling pretty perky. I read from LEAVING ATLANTA and SILVER SPARROW, answered a few questions and that was then. Much later in the program, the students were getting antsy. Pizza was delivered and there was a little bit of a frenzy as the food was distributed and people wanted to know if there was going to be any soda, and what flavor. I didn’t envy the folks on the second half of the program.
Right after the pizza, Rachel McKibbens took the stage to read from her poetry collection, PINK ELEPHANT. Rachel has a presence and she has a look. When she took the stage, the teenagers looked up from their pizza and coke to see what this woman was all about. When she started reciting her poetry about growing up in a working class community in Orange Country (“a part of Orange county they don’t show on TV except for on “cops”)– the kids forgot about pizza and texting and everything else except the raw humanity issueing forth from Rachel’s arresting verses. She tells the hard stories with beauty, vulnerability, and fire, too. After the event, young girl mustered their courage to approach the poet, “We really liked what you said,” one explained. Another broke in, “It wasn’t just what you said. It was how you said it, too.”
I can’t recommend this book enough. Rachel calls it a “memoir in verse. I call it brilliant.”
Human Traficking is an epidemic in the United States. When I say that, you probably have a hard time getting your head around what I am talking about. I am talking about teen age girls who are forced into prostitution. These girls are on the streets of every city in the country. When they are apprehended by law enforcement, they go to jail, ruining their lives. I have always felt uncomfortable when people toss the word “pimp” around in casual conversation, for example “Pimp my novel”, “Pimp my car”, etc. Pimps enslave women and girls. It’s not cute. It’s not funny. It’s not manly or sexy. It’s cowardly and criminal.
GIRLS LIKE US is a new memoir by Rachel Lloyd who was, herself, trafficked, but managed to escape. She is the founder of GEMS, an organization that helps traficked girls. It’s an amazing book and this is a serious problem. Buy it. Read it. And then do something.
Yesterday, I talked to Doug Seibold, publisher of Agate Books. I don’t get to talk to him often, but when I do, it’s always a pleasure. This time he wanted to talk about Rosalyn Story, author of the new novel WADING HOME. “She is a demon when it comes to plot.”
WADING HOME is about New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. We all know that this is a watershed event in American history– so why hasn’t this novel by an acclaimed writer gotten any attention? We all have our theories, but Doug isn’t interested in throwing blame around. He wants to get this excellent novel in the hands of readers. So, for the rest of this month, you can have the ebook for free. He’s confident that if you read it, you will love it and you will tell other people.
I haven’t heard anything about this book– and I like to think of myself as being in the loop! This, I think shows, how certain stories get all the limelight. I would usually wait until I have had a chance to read something before urging you all to check it out, but the free download will be gone by then. And besides, it’s free. If you take my advice, download it, and don’t like it, what have you lost.
Here is information about getting your FREE ebook from Agate, or you can cruise over to Amazon. And here is Doug’s blog post about the plight of serious novels in this uncertain climate and great info about Rosalyn Story, the author.
Go ahead. Let’s give this book a chance.