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.

 

 

The Past Never Sleeps

Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty are partners in the Community Policing Section of the Canadian Police, theunquietdeada special division that handles cases that might affect minority communities. They are surprised when they are called to a beautiful lake-side home where a man appears to have simply fallen to his death.

As the case builds, Esa and Rachel realize there is nothing simple about this crime, or about the way we deal with the past. With flashbacks to Bosnia during genocide, this book is a deep look at revenge, forgiveness, community, and family.

Ausma Zehanat Khan has created complex characters and a gritty, multi-layered mystery that spans the globe and time. A wonderful debut, this the first in a series of three mysteries with Esa and Rachel. The third novel in this series will be available February 14, 2017.

Ausma graciously agreed to answer some questions for me here at Book Club Advisor.

You’ve mentioned this in other interviews, but do you mind briefly telling my readers about the inspiration for this book?

The Unquiet Dead arose out of research I had done for my dissertation on military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans. I’d studied the Bosnian genocide for many years, and I felt the tragedy of it was slipping away without any of its lessons being learned. I wanted to tell a story that reflected the criminality of the genocide, and the unimaginable loss. There’s a line in The Unquiet Dead: “how quickly the violent ideals of ultra-nationalism led to hate, how quickly hate to blood.” I think that’s a lesson for us now. Continue reading “The Past Never Sleeps”

The Drug of Amnesia

the-angel-of-history“AIDS was a river with no bed that ran soundlessly and inexorably through my life, flooded everything, drowned all I knew, soaked my soul, but then a soaking, a drenching, was not dying, and I swam, floated when I could, and I though I had triumphed, only to discover years later that the river’s persistence, its restlessness, trickled into tiny rivulets that reach every remote corner of my being…” p. 182 Continue reading “The Drug of Amnesia”