“The lockdowns of 2020 hit Atlanta hard, as they did the rest of the world. But in the spring of 2021, as the trees once again sprouted new leaves, we emerged from our homes to reacquaint ourselves with our city. For me, the experience was even more intense because I had returned after so many years away, only to be shut in for more than a year. The exploration was emotional.”
Tayari Jones has been awarded a 2021 Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Established in 1925 by former United States Senator and Mrs. Simon Guggenheim, in memory of seventeen-year-old John Simon Guggenheim, the elder of their two sons, who died April 26, 1922, the Foundation has sought from its inception to “add to the educational, literary, artistic, and scientific power of this country, and also to provide for the cause of better international understanding,” as the Senator explained in his initial Letter of Gift.
An American Marriage appears in TIME Magazine’s “The 25 Defining Works of the Black Renaissance.” According to TIME, “The works of this new canon are defined by their breadth and diversity—a movement of pop stars and public intellectuals, superheroes and screwups, horror and ecstasy, individuality and unity. Collectively, they are a trove of epochal masterpieces that have revolutionized their mediums and shaken the culture at large—and whose influence we have only just begun to see take hold.”
The Folio Society released its beautiful new hardback edition of Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, introduced by Tayari Jones and illustrated by Shabazz Larkin. “ Tayari Jones conveys why this book has touched the hearts and minds of millions of readers in her emotive new introduction.”
Cornell University is hosting a yearlong celebration of Toni Morrison M.A.on the 50th anniversary of The Bluest Eye. Tayari Jones, A.D. White Professor at Large, will serve a panelist for a Feb. 18, 2021, roundtable discussion on Morrison’s creative and scholarly work.
The celebration was kicked off in October 2020 with a community-wide marathon reading of the novel, in which Jones was a participant. Events will continue into the spring and include a reading of Lydia Diamond’s play based on The Bluest Eye, community events, reading groups and displays of Morrison’s work and its global impact. In addition, Cornell is offering a new course focused on the novel.
Manhattan School of Music, one of the premier music schools in the United States, announced a roster of 24 Black artists ranging from instrumentalists to educators, authors, activists, composers, and singers to become Artists Scholars.
The illustrious roster includes Pulitzer Prize winning composer Anthony Davis, classical pianist Lara Downes, and novelist Tayari Jones. The Artists Scholars will take part in forums, panels, seminars, discussion groups, collaborations, and mentorship. The role of the Scholars is to relate their experiences and observations about diversity, equity, and inclusion to foster discussion within the MSM Community.
Tayari Jones has been awarded a Civitella Ranieri Writing Fellowship. Located in a 15th century castle in the Umbrian region of Italy, Civitella is a residency program for international writers, composers, and visual artists. Since 1995, Civitella has hosted more than 900 Fellows and Director’s Guests. The Center enables its Fellows to pursue their work and to exchange ideas in a unique and inspiring setting.
Civitella Ranieri Fellowships are awarded through a careful nomination and jury process by a rotating group of distinguished artists, academics, and critics that ensures access to a highly diverse group of emerging and accomplished candidates from around the world.
Each year, the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read initiative brings communities together around the shared activity of reading and discussing a book. On June 16, 2020, the Arts Endowment announced funding for 84 organizations to lead NEA Big Read projects between September 2020 and June 2021, providing a range of activities—in person or virtually—around a book selected from the NEA Big Read library, including Tayari Jones‘s Silver Sparrow.
Visit arts.gov/neabigread for more information about the NEA Big Read, including reader resources—such as book overviews, discussion questions, and interviews with the authors—as well as community stories from past NEA Big Read grantees.
June 13, 2020—”‘I believed I would never catch up’: Bestselling author Tayari Jones reveals the strange magic behind her literary stardom. The literary world is no stranger to fairy tales, but Tayari Jones’s journey from the sidelines to bestselling author beloved of Oprah and Obama is one for the books.”
“How can a novel’s social criticism be so unflinching and clear, yet its plot moves like a house on fire? I am tempted to describe Petry as a magician for the many ways that The Street amazes, but this description cheapens her talent . . . Petry is a gifted artist.” — Tayari Jones, from the Introduction
The Street follows the spirited Lutie Johnson, a newly single mother whose efforts to claim a share of the American Dream for herself and her young son meet frustration at every turn in 1940s Harlem. Opening a fresh perspective on the realities and challenges of black, female, working-class life, The Street became the first novel by an African American woman to sell more than a million copies.
An American Marriage is longlisted for the 2020 International DUBLIN Literary Award. Books are nominated for the Award by invited public libraries in cities throughout the world – making the Award unique in its coverage of international fiction. Titles are nominated on the basis of ‘high literary merit’ as determined by the nominating library.
See the 2020 longlist here.