Tayari Jones - book author
Tayari Jones is the author of the novels Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow, and An American Marriage (Algonquin Books, February 2018). Her writing has appeared in Tin House, The Believer, The New York Times, and Callaloo. A member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, she has also been a recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, United States Artist Fellowship, NEA Fellowship and Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship. Silver Sparrow was named a #1 Indie Next Pick by booksellers in 2011, and the NEA added it to its Big Read Library of classics in 2016. Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, University of Iowa, and Arizona State University. She is currently an Associate Professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University.
Tayari Jones is the author of books: An American Marriage, Silver Sparrow, Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Atlanta Noir, Um casamento americano, There’s Nothing Virtuous About Finding Common Ground, Old Fourth Ward, Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves, Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick: Stories from the Harlem Renaissance
This stirring love story is a deeply insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. An American Marriage is a masterpiece of storytelling, an intimate look into the souls of people who must reckon with the past while moving forward- with hope and pain- into the future.
Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon's two families—the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered. As Jones explores the backstories of her rich yet flawed characters ”the father, the two mothers, the grandmother, and the uncle ”she also reveals the joy, as well as the destruction, they brought to one another's lives.
At the heart of it all are the two lives at stake, and like the best writers ”think Toni Morrison with The Bluest Eye”Jones portrays the fragility of these young girls with raw authenticity as they seek love, demand attention, and try to imagine themselves as women, just not as their mothers.
Atlanta is one of America’s most dynamic and fastest-growing cities, with an increasingly diverse population. This volume honors the city’s transformation—albeit in a chilling manner—with a highly talented crew of contributors who know the city inside and out.
From editor Tayari Jones:
People who don’t know Atlanta don’t understand the codes and contradictions of the New South. Yes, Margaret Mitchell imagined the plantation Tara within the city limits, but it’s also the home of OutKast. Atlanta has captured the imagination of trash TV with Todd Chrisley’s magnolia-cream accent but also the decidedly urban antics of Love & Hip Hop. The ashes of the Civil War still hang in the air, but immigration is turning the South into the Global South.
With Atlanta Noir, my hope was to find the writers who could show the city in all of its dizzy complexity. These fourteen writers represent the city’s many neighborhoods and demographics—from the Southern punk scene of Little Five Points to the Junior League world of Peachtree City, where things are not always as they seem. There is more going on at the local Waffle House than just scattering, smothering, and chunking. This is a major international city but it’s still the Bible Belt. A megapreacher’s past catches up with him, and gentrification cannot tame the outlaw spirit of the city too busy to hate. Our airport boasts that it is the busiest in the world; locals declare that even on the way to heaven, you have to change planes at Hartsfield-Jackson. Let us think of Atlanta Noir as an after-hours welcome to the city where we serve our sweet tea with a shot of bourbon.
"The middle is a point equidistant from two poles. That’s it. There is nothing inherently virtuous about being neither here nor there. Buried in this is a false equivalency of ideas, what you might call the “good people on both sides” phenomenon. When we revisit our shameful past, ask yourself, Where was the middle? Rather than chattel slavery, perhaps we could agree on a nice program of indentured servitude? Instead of subjecting Japanese-American citizens to indefinite detention during WW II, what if we had agreed to give them actual sentences and perhaps provided a receipt for them to reclaim their things when they were released? What is halfway between moral and immoral?"
Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging can stick with readers the rest of their lives--but it doesn't come around as frequently for all of us. In this timely anthology, "well-read black girl" Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black female writers and creative voices to shine a light on how we search for ourselves in literature, and how important it is that everyone--no matter their gender, race, religion, or abilities--can find themselves there. Whether it's learning about the complexities of femalehood from Their Eyes Were Watching God, seeing a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, each essay reminds us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation. As she has done with her incredible book-club-turned-online-community Well-Read Black Girl, in this book, Edim has created a space where black women's writing and knowledge and life experiences are lifted up, to be shared with all readers who value the power of a story to help us understand the world, and ourselves.
Contributors include: Jesmyn Ward (Sing Unburied Sing), Lynn Nottage (Sweat), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face), Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing), Zinzi Clemmons (What We Lose), N. K. Jemisin (The Fifth Season), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), Nicole Dennis-Benn (Here Comes the Sun), Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish), and more.
Newsweek’s Most Anticipated Books of 2020
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Publishers Weekly’s Notable Titles
In 1925, Barnard student Zora Neale Hurston—the sole black student at the college—was living in New York, “desperately striving for a toe-hold on the world.” During this period, she began writing short works that captured the zeitgeist of African American life and transformed her into one of the central figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Nearly a century later, this singular talent is recognized as one of the most influential and revered American artists of the modern period.
Hitting a Straight Lick with a Crooked Stick is an outstanding collection of stories about love and migration, gender and class, racism and sexism that proudly reflect African American folk culture. Brought together for the first time in one volume, they include eight of Hurston’s “lost” Harlem stories, which were found in forgotten periodicals and archives. These stories challenge conceptions of Hurston as an author of rural fiction and include gems that flash with her biting, satiric humor, as well as more serious tales reflective of the cultural currents of Hurston’s world. All are timeless classics that enrich our understanding and appreciation of this exceptional writer’s voice and her contributions to America’s literary traditions.