The Word: Black Writers Talk About the Transformative Power of Reading and Writing

The Word: Black Writers Talk About the Transformative Power of Reading and Writing

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by Marita Golden
     
 

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Critically acclaimed Black writers reveal how books have shaped their personal lives—in often unexpected ways.
 
In these thirteen strikingly candid interviews, bestselling authors, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, and writers picked by Oprah’s Book Club discuss how the acts of reading and writing have deeply affected their lives by

Overview

Critically acclaimed Black writers reveal how books have shaped their personal lives—in often unexpected ways.
 
In these thirteen strikingly candid interviews, bestselling authors, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, and writers picked by Oprah’s Book Club discuss how the acts of reading and writing have deeply affected their lives by expanding the conceptual borders of their communities and broadening their sense of self.

Edwidge Danticat movingly recounts the first time she encountered a Black character in a book and how this changed her worldview forever; Edward P. Jones speaks openly about being raised by an illiterate mother; J. California Cooper discusses the spiritual sources of her literary inspiration; Nathan McCall explains how reading saved his life while in prison; Pearl Cleage muses eloquently about how other people’s stories help one make one’s own way in the world; and world-renowned historian John Hope Franklin—in one of the last interviews he gave before his death—touchingly recalls his childhood in the segregated South and how reading opened his mind to life’s greater possibilities.

The stories that emerge from these in-depth interviews not only provide an important record of the creative life of leading Black writers but also explore the vast cultural and spiritual benefits of reading and writing, and they support the growing initiative to encourage people to read as both a passion and a pastime.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In interviews with 13 black writers including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nikki Giovanni, and Edwidge Danticat, Golden (Migrations of the Heart) celebrates the pleasure of reading and writing spliced with personal glimpses of the contributors (late reader, straight-D student, ex-prisoner, college professor, illiterate mother, bookstore-owning father) that reveal the extraordinary diversity in literary tastes and habits. Even as many of the writers mention reading the canonical Du Bois, Hughes, Morrison, Ellison, and Baldwin, others are drawn to Madame Bovary and Madeline, Catch-22 and Carlyle. Essayists testify to the inspiration of particular teachers, the encouragement of other writers (two mention Gwendolyn Brooks specifically), and most frequently parental enabling and support. Golden's introduction is moving and often lyrical; her headnotes are succinct and helpful; her interviewer voice is muted, direct, and consistently directed toward letting the writer speak. "I tremble with anticipation each time I open a book," writes Golden. "I smile with satisfaction when I read the last page." Her readers will do the same. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
 
Critically acclaimed Black writers reveal how books have shaped their personal lives—in often unexpected ways.
 
In these thirteen strikingly candid interviews, bestselling authors, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, and writers picked by Oprah’s Book Club discuss how the acts of reading and writing have deeply affected their lives by expanding the conceptual borders of their communities and broadening their sense of self.

Edwidge Danticat movingly recounts the first time she encountered a Black character in a book and how this changed her worldview forever; Edward P. Jones speaks openly about being raised by an illiterate mother; J. California Cooper discusses the spiritual sources of her literary inspiration; Nathan McCall explains how reading saved his life while in prison; Pearl Cleage muses eloquently about how other people’s stories help one make one’s own way in the world; and world-renowned historian John Hope Franklin—in one of the last interviews he gave before his death—touchingly recalls his childhood in the segregated South and how reading opened his mind to life’s greater possibilities.

The stories that emerge from these in-depth interviews not only provide an important record of the creative life of leading Black writers but also explore the vast cultural and spiritual benefits of reading and writing, and they support the growing initiative to encourage people to read as both a passion and a pastime.
 
Includes interviews with:
Chimamanda N. Adichie
Faith Adiele
Pearl Cleage
J. California Cooper
Ellis Cose
Edwidge Danticat
John Hope Franklin
Nikki Giovanni
Wil Haygood
Mat Johnson
Edward P. Jones
David Levering Lewis
Nathan McCall

Library Journal
Having had a desire "to talk to other writers about the texts that made them lifelong readers, changed their ideas about the world, and made them want to be writers," Golden (president, emeritus, Hurston/Wright Fdn.; Migrations of the Heart: An Autobiography) undertook interviews with 13 African American authors, including novelists, historians, and biographers. The results are divided into three sections: "Reading Beyond Borders," "Reading for the Mind," and "Reading for the Soul." Nikki Giovanni, J. California Cooper, and Chimamanda N. Adichie are three of the most recognized interviewees. Topics common to several interviews include influential books, libraries, and the practice of reading from a young age. Throughout the interviews, presented in transcript form, a love of the written word shines through. Each interview concludes with a short list of books recommended by that writer; some are surprising, such as Mat Johnson's nod to Charles Bukowski's Factotum. These lists alone will be of interest to book lovers. VERDICT This compilation will appeal to literature and creative writing students and those who enjoy books on reading and writing. Discussions of black authorship and race issues also make this a valuable resource for African American studies.—Stacy Russo, Chapman Univ. Libs., Orange, CA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780767929912
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
01/11/2011
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
870,023
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

MARITA GOLDEN is an award-winning author of more than a dozen works of fiction and nonfiction. She is the cofounder and president emeritus of the
Hurston/Wright Foundation.

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Word: Black Writers Talk About the Transformative Power of Reading and Writing 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this book should be read by teenagers who have lost touch with the written word because of technology. I encourage parents to grab it, read it and pass it on to their offspring for a refresher course in the written word. Awesome write shining the light on different perspectives of reading and writing, yet all ending with the reality: the written word is really what's up. Solid!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Princess Zelda                                                                                                               -she looked away in shame at hearing Twilight's dark version- 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
-she hugged Midna- Thank you!