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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”