Prison Song

02fd44da-fbec-46c8-8e15-dd7989daeac8Two stunning novels touch the heart of American history in a place that is still raw and aching. The stories of Jojo and Richie, and Dara and Lead Belly, will cling to your heart.

Current Day: Jojo is on his way to pick up dad from Mississippi State Penitentiary, the former site of Parcham Prison, a prison camp meant to extend slavery for black men for white profit.

1923: Dara is fleeing Midland, Texas,  after being outed in her small town as a lesbian. She gets a job and finds friendship and a way out of her own prison of fear, while seeing first hand the Imperial Prison Farm, another prison camp extending slavery for black men.

A piercing look at the history that shapes us, the choices we are thrown up against, and the powerful connection of family to lead us through, Sing Unburied, Sing and Sugarland are two novels you will be thinking and talking about long after you put them reluctantly down.

Bones tell tales: Human remains have been found under a school district building site. The remains are related to the Imperial Prison Farm in Fort Bend County, Texas. Read more…

Take me home: Ward (MacArthur Genius Grant Winner) takes PBS newshour on a tour of her hometown in Mississippi and talks about her influences and the power of seeing yourself in stories.

 

 

Frankenstein in Baghdad

Car bombs. Lost limbs. A strange man is gathering them up for something that is going to turn Baghdad upside down. When the body comes to life, each body part has an act to grind. What could be a slasher tale is an intricate examination of the human heart, war, and the roles everyone plays in revenge and peace. Structured with deference to the original, it is still fresh, reimagined, and just as horrifying and heartbreaking and culturally relevant. Winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Ahmed Saadawi, a film director and writer, has reimagined a classic for our age, one that will be a touchstone for the discussion of Frankenstein for years to come.

Favorite quotations for discussion:

“…all the security incidents and tragedies we’re seeing stem from one thing—fear.” (P.123)

“They didn’t know anything about him, but they were driven by that latent hatred that can suddenly come to the surface when people meet someone who doesn’t fit in.” (P. 131)

“I was careful about the pieces of flesh that were used to repair my body. I made sure my assistants didn’t bring any flesh that was illegitimate—in other words, the flesh of criminals, but who’s to say how criminal someone is?” (P. 156)

“Anyone who puts on a crown, even as an experiment, will end up looking for a kingdom.” (P.181)

 

Family is Complicated

mothers tell your daughtersFor some the word mother is comfort. For some it is fear. For some it is heartbreak. For many of us it is all of those things at the same time and then some. In this searing collection of short stories, Bonnie Jo Campbell lets us into the lives of mothers, daughters, grandparents, sisters, husbands, kids and all the people who make up our modern families who are trying to survive as best they can. Taking an unflinching view at post-industrial America, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters is a collection of voices that will stay with you long after the story is over. Continue reading “Family is Complicated”