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.
Tayari Jones has been awarded a 2012 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is among 40 American writers selected for this distinction. Ms. Jones will use the $25,000 unrestricted grant to research her fourth novel. Read the NEA press release and browse the list of fellows.
Silver Sparrow has been selected by the National Women’s Book Association as a 2011 Great Group Read. Each year, twenty titles are chosen to mark National Reading group Month. To mark the occaision, Tayari Jones will participate in the National Reading Group Month Signature Event to be held in Nashville at the Nashville Public Library Downtown on Saturday, October 15. She will also take part in the Booklist Webinar on October 7.
The full list of 2011 Great Group Reads is here.
Jennifer Weiner chooses Silver Sparrow for Summer 2011.
Dishy, twisty, secrets about two daughters: one from her father’s public family, the other from the family on the side. An amazing, amazing read.
Tayari Jones was a guest on The Diane Rhem Show today on NPR and WAMU discussing Silver Sparrow. You can listen to the show here.
I am delighted to post the link to my recent NPR interview. It was such a pleasure to sit down with Michele Norris, who is just as amazing in person as she is on the air. We talked about bigamy, Girls Write Now, Toni Morrison, “invisible” girls, Spelman College, magic wands, Johnetta Cole, writing, mentoring, and SILVER SPARROW.
Click and listen.
Tayari Jones will spend the 2011-12 year at Harvard University as a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study for the academic year 2011-12. Chosen from over 800 applications, she will join a select group of fifty fellows. Each has a record of significant accomplishment and demonstrated interest in participating in the multi-disciplinary environment of the Radcliffe Fellowship Program. Next year’s fellows come from across the country and around the world, women and men at different stages of their careers, representing different academic, professional and artistic fields.
While at Radcliffe, she will work on a new novel.
The American Booksellers Association has chosen Silver Sparrow as the #1 Indie Next Pick for the month of June. According to the ABA website, “The Indie Next List, drawn from bookseller-recommended favorite handsells, epitomizes the heart and soul of passionate bookselling. Independent booksellers are and have always been discoverers of the next big thing, the next great read, the next bestseller, and the next undiscovered gem.”
In her endorsement of Silver Sparrow, Libby Cowles of Maria’s Bookshop writes: “The unconventional, morally troubling relationships at the core of Jones’ Silver Sparrow illustrate the universality of the human quest for acknowledgment, legitimacy, love, and loyalty. As Chaurisse and her secret half-sister, Dana, move toward adulthood, they must shed idealistic notions of romantic and familial love to face difficult truths. A complex family drama, a richly crafted coming-of-age story, and a meditation on the nature of love and forgiveness, this is a gripping story with characters you will not soon forget.”
Tayari Jones, Associate Professor, was honored by Rutgers University today in a ceremony on the New Brunswick campus. She received the Board of Trustees Award for Scholarly Excellence, the Presidential Fellowship for Teaching Excellence, a Leader in Faculty Diversity Award. The awards are accompanyed by research grants which will assist Jones in the completion of her next novel.