A trenchant memoir of rural poverty and the lingering strains of racism in America's Deep South by the National Book Award-winning author of Salvage the Bones
A trenchant memoir of rural poverty and the lingering strains of racism in America's Deep South by the National Book Award-winning author of Salvage the Bones
"Twin brothers struggle with the responsibilities of adulthood and family in the post-Katrina Mississippi Gulf coast"--Provided by publisher.
WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD 2011
"Ward takes James Baldwin's 1963 examination of race in America, The Fire Next Time, as a jumping off point for this ... collection of essays and poems about race from ... voices of her generation and our time"--
A searing and profound Southern odyssey by National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward. In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award–winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi’s past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. Ward is a major American writer, multiply awarded and universally lauded, and in Sing, Unburied, Sing she is at the height of her powers. Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman farm, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise. Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward’s distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic new work and an essential contribution to American literature.
A coming-of-age story about navigating the wilds of urban America and the shrapnel of a self-destructing family, Buck shares the story of a generation through one original and riveting voice. MK Asante was born in Zimbabwe to American parents: his mother a dancer, his father a revered professor. But as a teenager, MK was alone on the streets of North Philadelphia, swept up in a world of drugs, sex, and violence. MK’s memoir is an unforgettable tale of how one precocious, confused kid educated himself through gangs, rap, mystic cults, ghetto philosophy, and, eventually, books. It is an inspiring tribute to the power of literature to heal and redeem us. Praise for Buck “A story of surviving and thriving with passion, compassion, wit, and style.”—Maya Angelou “In America, we have a tradition of black writers whose autobiographies and memoirs come to define an era. . . . Buck may be this generation’s story.”—NPR “The voice of a new generation. . . . You will love nearly everything about Buck.”—Essence “A virtuoso performance . . . [an] extraordinary page-turner of a memoir . . . written in a breathless, driving hip-hop prose style that gives it a tough, contemporary edge.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer “Frequently brilliant and always engaging . . . It takes great skill to render the wide variety of characters, male and female, young and old, that populate a memoir like Buck. Asante [is] at his best when he sets out into the city of Philadelphia itself. In fact, that city is the true star of this book. Philly’s skateboarders, its street-corner philosophers and its tattoo artists are all brought vividly to life here. . . . Asante’s memoir will find an eager readership, especially among young people searching in books for the kind of understanding and meaning that eludes them in their real-life relationships. . . . A powerful and captivating book.”—Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times “Remarkable . . . Asante’s prose is a fluid blend of vernacular swagger and tender poeticism. . . . [He] soaks up James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston and Walt Whitman like thirsty ground in a heavy rain. Buck grew from that, and it’s a bumper crop.”—Salon “Buck is so honest it floats—even while it’s so down-to-earth that the reader feels like an ant peering up from the concrete. It’s a powerful book. . . . Asante is a hip-hop raconteur, a storyteller in the Homeric tradition, an American, a rhymer, a big-thinker singing a song of himself. You’ll want to listen.”—The Buffalo News From the Trade Paperback edition.
The book opens and we are inside the wave: thirty feet high, moving at twenty-five mph, racing two miles inland. And from there into the depths of the author's despair: how to live now that her life has been undone? Sonali Deraniyagala tells her story - the loss of her two boys, her husband, and her parents - without artifice or sentimentality. In the stark language of unfathomable sorrow, anger, and guilt: she struggles through the first months following the tragedy -- someone always at her side to prevent her from harming herself, her whole being furiously clenched against the reality she can't face; and then reluctantly emerging and, over the ensuing years, slowly allowing her memory to function again. Then she goes back through the rich and joyous life she's mourning, from her family's home in London, to the birth of her children, to the year she met her English husband at Cambridge, to her childhood in Colombo while learning the balance between the almost unbearable reminders of her loss and her fundamental need to keep her family, somehow, still with her.
Winner of the Guardian First Book Award 2013 Shortlisted for the Dublin IMPAC Literary Award 2014 Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2013 Winner of Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2012 "My father still lives back the road past the weir in the cottage I was reared in. I go there every day to see is he dead and every day he lets me down. He hasn't yet missed a day of letting me down." In the aftermath of Ireland's financial collapse, dangerous tensions surface in an Irish town. As violence flares, the characters face a battle between public persona and inner desires. Through a chorus of unique voices, each struggling to tell their own kind of truth, a single authentic tale unfolds. The Spinning Heart speaks for contemporary Ireland like no other novel. Wry, vulnerable, all-too human, it captures the language and spirit of rural Ireland and with uncanny perception articulates the words and thoughts of a generation. Technically daring and evocative of Patrick McCabe and J.M. Synge, this novel of small-town life is witty, dark and sweetly poignant. Donal Ryan's brilliantly realized debut announces a stunning new voice in literary fiction.
First published in 1993, Blake Morrison's And When Did You Last See Your Father? is an extraordinary portrait of family life, father-son relationships and bereavement. It became a best-seller and inspired a whole genre of confessional memoirs, winning the Waterstone's/Volvo/Esquire Award for Non-Fiction and the J. R. Ackerley Prize for Autobiography. This edition includes a new afterword by the author.
"When Michael Orlandus Darrion Brown was born, he was adored and doted on by his aunts, uncles, grandparents, his father, and most of all by his sixteen-year-old mother, who nicknamed him Mike Mike. Lezley McSpadden never imagined that her son's name would inspire the resounding chants of protestors in Ferguson, Missouri. In Tell the truth & shame the devil, McSpadden picks up the pieces of the tragedy that shook her life and the country to its core, and reveals the unforgettable story of her life, her son, and their truth." -- From dustjacket.
“I always hoped [Mary Williams] would tell her incredible story. She's a writer of uncommon clarity and humor, and the arrival of her memoir is cause for celebration." —Dave Eggers, author of What is the What As she grew up in 1970s Oakland, California, role models for Mary Williams were few and far between: her father was often in prison, her older sister was a teenage prostitute, and her hot-tempered mother struggled to raise six children alone. For all Mary knew, she was heading down a similar path. But her life changed when she met Jane Fonda at summer camp in 1978. Fonda grew attached to the bright girl and eventually invited her to become part of her family, becoming the mother Mary never had. Mary’s life since has been one of adventure and opportunity—from hiking the Appalachian Trail solo, working with the Lost Boys of Sudan, and living in the frozen reaches of Antarctica. Her most courageous trip, though, involved returning to Oakland and reconnecting with her biological mother and family, many of whom she hadn’t seen since the day she left home. The Lost Daughter is a chronicle of her journey back in time, an exploration of fractured family bonds, and a moving epic of self-discovery.
“Compressed . . . lyrical . . . unflinching . . . raw. . . . Harjo is a magician and a master of the English language.”—Jonah Raskin, San Francisco Chronicle In this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo, one of our leading Native American voices, details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and connection with the natural world. She attended an Indian arts boarding school, where she nourished an appreciation for painting, music, and poetry; gave birth while still a teenager; and struggled on her own as a single mother, eventually finding her poetic voice. Narrating the complexities of betrayal and love, Crazy Brave is a memoir about family and the breaking apart necessary in finding a voice. Harjo’s tale of a hardscrabble youth, young adulthood, and transformation into an award-winning poet and musician is haunting, unique, and visionary.
Long Division includes two distinct but tightly interwoven stories--one called "All Things Considered," the other "Long Division." In the first, it's March 2012: 14-year-old Citoyen "City" Coldson and his nemesis, LaVander Peeler, become the first black male duo to win the state of Mississippi's “Can You Use This Word in a Sentence” contest finals. Both boys are asked to represent Mississippi at the televised national competition. (Hours before the contest begins, City is given a book without an author called "Long Division.") Turmoil and misunderstanding ensue, as City and LaVander learn they have reason to doubt the merit of their presence at the contest. “They want us to win,” City says to LaVander moments before the contest starts. After being assigned, and then misusing, the word “niggardly” in the first round of the contest, City has a remarkable on-stage meltdown in front of a national television audience. LaVander, on the other hand, though incredibly shaken, advances to the finals and has the chance to win the contest. The day after the contest, City is sent to spend the weekend with his grandmother in the small coastal community of Melahatchie, which is also the site of the mysterious disappearance of girl named Baize Shephard. Baize Shephard also happens to be one of the main characters in the book "Long Division," which City has been dipping into throughout the story. While in Melahatchie, City's troubled Uncle Relle reveals that City has become an overnight YouTube celebrity thanks to his on-stage meltdown, and that he is being sought to appear on a new television show called "Youtube’s Black Reality All Stars." City is alternately celebrated and ridiculed by the white and black residents of Melahatchie as a result of his performance at the contest, even as he delves deeper into "Long Division" and its story of the missing Baize Shephard. When the neighborhood is convinced that a white man nicknamed Pot-Belly has assaulted Baize and done away with her body, they beat the man to death...or so City thinks, until he finds the man alive, chained up in a workshed in the back yard of his grandmother’s house. City visits the imprisoned white man four times during the course of his weekend--reading to him from "Long Division," asking him questions he's always wanted to ask white people, and promising to save him if he survives his own baptism, which his grandmother has engineered during City's visit. When LaVander appears, he and City must reluctantly work together again, this time to save the life of the white man chained in the workshed--and quite possibly the life of City’s grandmother, too. There's something else that City finds especially interesting about "Long Division," besides the story of Baize: another main character in the book is also named City Coldson--except this City Coldson, who lives in Melahatchie, is 14 in 1985. This City will do anything to make Shalaya Crump love him--including traveling 26 years into the future (via a time portal they find in the woods) to steal a laptop and cellphone from a girl--a mysterious teenaged rapper named Baize Shephard, who lost her parents in Hurricane Katrina. The following day, Shalaya and City meet another worn down time-traveler, this one from 1964, a boy named "Jewish" Evan Altshuler. Evan is desperate to protect his family against the Klu Klux Klan during Freedom Summer. He convinces Shalaya that he can help her find her parents and her future self if she brings the laptop computer back to 1964 and does him a favor. Unexpectedly, City and Shalaya become separated, with Shalaya stuck in 1964 and City stuck in 2012. In their wanderings back and forward through time, much is revealed about City’s relationship with Baize, and about segregation, Freedom Summer, the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Oil spill, and the limits of technology and love. Long Division is a Twain-esque exploration of celebrity, authorship, racialized terror, neo-liberalism, religion, and coming of age in Post-Katrina Mississippi.
An instant New York Times bestseller, named a best book of the year by The New York Times Book Review, Amazon, and Entertainment Weekly, among others, this celebrated account of a young African-American man who escaped Newark, NJ, to attend Yale, but still faced the dangers of the streets when he returned is, “nuanced and shattering” (People) and “mesmeric” (The New York Times Book Review). When author Jeff Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Robert’s life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics. But it didn’t get easier. Robert carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, trying to fit in at Yale, and at home on breaks. A compelling and honest portrait of Robert’s relationships—with his struggling mother, with his incarcerated father, with his teachers and friends—The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace encompasses the most enduring conflicts in America: race, class, drugs, community, imprisonment, education, family, friendship, and love. It’s about the collision of two fiercely insular worlds—the ivy-covered campus of Yale University and the slums of Newark, New Jersey, and the difficulty of going from one to the other and then back again. It’s about trying to live a decent life in America. But most all this “fresh, compelling” (The Washington Post) story is about the tragic life of one singular brilliant young man. His end, a violent one, is heartbreaking and powerful and “a haunting American tragedy for our times” (Entertainment Weekly).
Guided by the narrative of her mother's tragic loss of a son years earlier, Mira Ptacin confronts an unexpected pregnancy with a child who has no chance of survival outside the womb. At age twenty-eight, Mira Ptacin discovered she was pregnant. Though it was unplanned, she soon embraced the pregnancy and became engaged to Andrew, the father. But five months later, an ultrasound revealed birth defects that would give the child no chance of survival outside the womb. Mira was given three options: terminate her pregnancy, induce early delivery, or wait and inevitably miscarry. Her story is woven together with the story of Mira's mother, who immigrated from Poland (also at the age of twenty-eight) and adopted a son, Julian. Julian would die tragically, bringing her a similar, unimaginable grief. A memoir about loss and self-preservation, grief and recovery, mothers and daughters, and the bewildering layover between youth and adulthood, Poor Your Soul is a beautiful rumination on our understanding and acceptance of family, human sexuality, and free will.