Silver Sparrow has been named as a 2012 Honor Book by The Black Caucus of the American Library Association. BCALA serves as an advocate for the development, promotion, and improvement of library services and resources to the nation’s African American community; and provides leadership for the recruitment and professional development of African American librarians.
The BCALA Literary Awards recognize excellence in adult fiction and nonfiction by African American authors published in 2011. Ms. Jones will receive her award during the 2012 Annual Conference of the American Library Association in Anaheim, CA
The NAACP Image Awards is the nation’s premier multi-cultural awards show celebrating the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts (television, recording, literature, motion picture and writing & directing), as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through their creative endeavors. 2012 will mark the 43rd anniversary of this important ceremony.
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones is among five nominees in the category, “Outstanding Literary Work: Fiction.” The awards will be announced on February 17.
Her Word as Witness: Women Writers of the African Diaspora, a collection of photographs by Brooklyn artist Layla Amatullah Barrayn, opened at Restoration Plaza’s Skylight Gallery on December 3, 2011. In addition to Tayari Jones, the exhibit showcases images of 76 other writers including of Sonia Sanchez, Edwidge Danticat and former Essence Editor-in-Chief Susan L. Taylor.
(Black Enterprise profile of Barrayn)
The Atlanta Journal Constitution selects Silver Sparrow as 2011’s “Best of The South”. Book Critic, Gina Webb writes:
Set in Atlanta in the ’80s, Jones’ third novel opens with a startling confession: “My father, James WIthersppon, is a bigamist.” Witherspoon’s two daughters, Dana and Chaurisse, take turns narrating this unforgettable story of two families living only miles apart, one legitimate and one “secret,” and the painful differences– and unexpected familiarity– of their separate worlds.
Clarence V. Reynolds, assistant director at the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, selected Silver Sparrow for inclusion on Mosaic Literary Magazine’s “Best of 2011” list. Reynolds writes:
Set in contemporary Atlanta, Dana and her mother, Gwen, are the other, secret family of polygamist James Witherspoon. The two teenage “sisters,” Dana Lynn and Bunny Chaurisse, eventually meet, and what starts as a friendship stirred by curiosity ends with a painful blow. The two young girls do, indeed, have their say: the book is divided into two parts, one for each. Through her use of authentic dialogue and headstrong characters, Tayari Jones serves up a dramatic story about an unconventional family relationship—which rings with some uncomfortable reality—complete with all of the laughs, heartache, and truthfulness that inevitably surface.
The audio version of Silver Sparrow, narrated by Rosalyn Coleman Williams and Heather Alicia Simms, has been selected by eMusic as one of the top audio books of 2011. Critic, Kate Silver, writes:
Familial roots are exposed and tangled in Tayari Jones’s spirited coming-of-age tale, set in mid-’80s Atlanta. Teenagers Dana Yarboro and Chaurisse Witherspoon may be raised on pop music and television, but even a “modern” family like the Bradys can’t prepare them for a harsh reality. When the girls meet in a drugstore and bond over faux hair and handbags, Dana knows Chaurisse is her sister. This is no Parent Trap-style farce, however. James Witherspoon, a car service owner and driver, has kept Dana and her mother out of his daily life for years. James has worked hard to keep the girls apart — he forbids Dana from taking a coveted summer job at Six Flags when Chaurisse applies, and discourages them from choosing the same college. While sweet Chaurisse sees her father at the dinner table every night, the younger Dana is used to feeling slighted. “When most people think of bigamy,” she says in the novel’s opening passage, “if they think of it at all, they imagine some primitive practice on the pages of National Geographic.” Far from a foreign landscape or scripted dramedy, Silver Sparrow tells the story of two working families. Divided into two narratives (told by Heather Alicia Simms and Rosalyn Coleman Williams), the novel offers a funny and affecting glance at haves and have-nots. From Dana’s need for a father’s love (“Who doesn’t want to be loved? Anyone who has been cast off knows the pain of it”), to Chaurisse’s mother’s Scarlett O’Hara fantasies and a desire to run a successful hair salon, the women are feisty and filled with desire. Their stories are fresh and nostalgic as an icy Coca-Cola from the bottle.
Atlanta Magazine Book Critic, Teresa Weaver, selected Silver Sparrow as one of the top five fiction titles of the year. Weaver writes:
In her third novel, the author of Leaving Atlanta explores two parallel lives on an emotional collision course, told by the very different daughters of a bigamist.
ONE GREAT PASSAGE “It was not love at first sight, at least not on my mother’s part. She didn’t meet my father and feel a shift in her personal chemistry or a change in the rhythm that connected her heart to the rest of
her body . . . What she had with my father was a sort of creeping love, the kind that sinks in before you know it and makes a family of you.”
Culture Critic, June Thomas, selected Silver Sparrow for Slate’s best of 2011. Her comments are below:
The most immersive novel I read in 2011, that is, the book that allowed me to forget my own world and fall head first into someone else’s, was Tayari Jones’ Silver Sparrow. It is the story of Dana Lynn Yarboro, who grows up knowing that her father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist, and her attempt to get to know and understand James’ other, more privileged family, especially her half-sister, Bunny Chaurisse Witherspoon. It’s one of those “just one more chapter” kinds of books that requires much last-minute changing of plans, because real life feels far less amusing, appalling, shocking, and loving than the world of its characters.
Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang, chose Silver Sparrow for Salon’s list of favorites for 2011. Wilson writes:
In “Silver Sparrow” — an amazing novel about a man with two families, one hidden and one public — Jones does something breathtaking and difficult: She renders a unique family dynamic with such precision and sensitivity that it becomes universal. It is amazing to watch, time and time again in this book, how Jones reveals the ways in which family both creates and destroys our identity. Jones’ previous novels are fantastic, but this book feels like a masterpiece.
Library Journal has selected Silver Sparrow as one the top ten books of 2011.
In its 133rd year of publication, Library Journal is the oldest and most respected publication covering the library field. Considered to be the “bible” of the library world, LJ is read by over 100,000 library directors, administrators, and staff in public, academic, and special libraries. LJ is the single-most comprehensive publication for librarians, with groundbreaking features and analytical news reports covering technology, management, policy, and other professional concerns. Its hefty review sections evaluate nearly 7000 books annually, along with hundreds of audiobooks, videos, databases, web sites, and systems that libraries buy.
See the full top ten list here.