National Book Award Winner Will Visit Central Library April 8
Jesmyn Ward will discuss her memoir “Men We Reaped” on Wednesday, April 8, 7 p.m. for Arlington Reads 2015, “#Blacklivesmatter: Two Remarkable Writers on Being Black in America.”
Ward’s acclaimed 2013 memoir focuses on five young black men lost to drugs, accidents, murder and suicide in her small hometown of DeLisle, Miss. The dead include her younger brother, killed by a drunk driver.
“Time” magazine says “Men We Reaped” is [l]avishly endowed with literary craft and hard-earned wisdom. Ward, an English professor at Tulane University, won the 2011 National Book Award for her novel “Salvage the Bones.”
Now you can win a copy of “Men We Reaped.”
Use the comments space below to tell us in a few sentences what books best speak to you on race and the African American experience.
Winners will be contacted by March
18 20. Winning copies will be available for pick-up at Central Library.
On Thursday, May 7, 7 p.m., Arlington Reads 2015 featured fiction writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaks at Central Library on her funny, powerful “Americanah,” named one of the Ten Best Books of 2013 by the New York Times.
Admission and parking are free for Arlington Reads events. Seating is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. Copies of the authors’ books will also be sold the night of their appearances, courtesy of Barnes & Noble, Clarendon.
Arlington Reads is made possible through the generous support of the Friends of the Arlington Public Library.
George L. says
You will probably get several mentions for “To Kill a Mockingbird” but its message is still very powerful. Thankfully things have changed tremendously since the book was published.
Sarah M says
I borrowed “The Good Lord Bird” by James McBride from the Arlington Public Library. It was the best book I read last year, telling the story of John Brown — the abolitionist who took a stand with a small group at Harpers Ferry — through the eyes of an escaped slave named Onion. Onion’s views on slavery and the abolitionist movement give a fresh, and often funny, perspective on a key historic moment in American race relations.
Also — completely agree that “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of the best books of all time, and specifically on the issue of race relations.
Web Editor says
Sarah, you might also enjoy McBride’s “Miracle at St. Anna,” about four black American soldiers in Italy during WWII.
Sandra Bondy says
Eudora Welty first came to mind, but a more recent read for me was Voodoo Dreams by Jewell Parker Rhodes. New Orleans is a fascinating place with so much charm and culture and her descriptions and historical fiction just hypnotized me. I enjoyed the read and learning about the dark sides and secrets.
Therese Rose says
The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander.
It explains the state we’re in now and why.
Roots, by Alex Haley, was one of the first books that impacted me as a pre-teen reading about the African American experience. Most recently, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson has really informed my understanding of the mass migration of African Americans from the South.
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson explains very well the Great Migration and the trials Africans Americans went they went through in major cities like NY, LA and Chicago. The racism they encountered was different and they realized the North was not a promised land after all. They’re Eyes Are Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston is beautiful and poetic. Everyone should read Hurston.
Betty Carter says
The Autobiography of Malcom X is a great book that every American should read.It protrays the plight of the Black man in american searching for self identity and expericing racial hate in America. However, he was able to find peace through religon.
So, eventhough the American world sterotyped him for making a mistake in life, he was able to raise above it and expose the ills of American exposing The Muslim Leader Isiah Muhamm.
I definitely have to echo the comments of those who mentioned “To Kill a Mockingbird,” as it not only highlights the sad state of race relations in the South during the Jim Crow era, but also does so in a manner that truly touches the heart. Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow” is also a compelling and extensive discussion of America’s institutionalization of black male incarceration.
However, the book I’d like to tell you about is “Warriors Don’t Cry,” the memoir of a young girl caught on the front lines of changing race relations in a segregated America. The rawness of the story, the monumental backdrop of the Brown v. Board SCOTUS decision, and the heart of these young people in the face of great adversity made a book I read in my childhood stick with my conscience for all of these years.
The Central Park Five by Sarah Burns tells the riveting struggle of five African American and Latino teenagers that were tried and convicted as adults for the murder of a jogger without evidence. Although the charges were eventually overturned, the true story stole a large part of the men’s lives and demonstrates the corruption in law enforcement. The effect of mass media coverage mirrors today’s portrayal of African Americans as well.
The book you have chosen to highlight, Jesmyn Ward’s “Men We Reaped.” and her earlier novel, “Salvage the Bones” get my vote for the books that have best spoken to me about race and the African American experience. I am so glad you’ve invited Ward to speak.
Although I have read, over the years, many books about the African American experience, from Langston Hughes to “The Help,” Ward’s “Salvage the Bones” and “Men We Reaped” let me see life as an African American with a new clarity. I picked up a copy of “Men We Reaped” from one of the library’s tables a few years ago and was stunned and saddened by Ward’s account. Her book let me understand, as none of the other books has, a bit of what it would be like to be a young, poor black man in Mississippi and Louisiana. As the mother of two young men myself, I can only imagine the sense of loss with which her community lives.
Medical apartheid : the dark history of medical experimentation on Black Americans from colonial times to the present by Harriet A. Washington is a book that finally helped me understand why my great grandparents were wary of going to the doctor. I suspected more than Tuskegee had happened to elicit such anxiety (which was enough in and of itself), but I wasn’t sure exactly what else – now I know. This book should be required reading for all medical students as it would also help them to understand the factual basis of some of the anxieties of older patients regardless of color. Because we all know if it happened to someone, it can happen to anyone. Moreover, history forgotten may be history repeated.
Recently enjoyed the DVD of Belle recently as a family and purchased a kids’ storybook that brought more explanation of the real life story to my daughter’s level, entitled Fern and Kate meet Dido Elizabeth Belle. We both enjoyed it and there are several (grown up) history-exporing titles I would now like to read that details that little-known part of black history in Europe (yes, I know you asked for American history…) and make me wonder what titles there are exporing the brief period of our American experience that we discovered a bit about while on Roanoke Island in NC, where intermarrying and friendships between the races were legit before slavery overtook the country.
I think Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming paints a unique picture of the African American experience as she grows up in both the North and the South. I find Woodson’s use of verse truly illuminates her personal struggles and triumphs in her memoir. She personalizes her experience of finding her own place in this time of transition from the land of Jim Crow to the bubbling revolution of the Civil Rights Movement.
Dan Felsenheld says
I think Huckleberry Finn spoke to me about Race Relations. The relationship between Huck and Jim in that book speaks to us even today.
I read “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker when I was growing up and it is still one of my favorite books. I also agree with the previous comment about the movie Belle and I will have to check out some of the books about her story that are for adults.
My daughter borrowed the American Girl doll, Addy from the Shirlington Library. It came with a book about the doll. It was a very moving story about Addy who escaped slavery with her mother after her father and brother were sold to another farm. I sat at my kitchen counter and cried as I read it aloud!
Amanda Jackson says
Someone Knows My Name by Laurence Hill