James McBride burst onto the scene with The Color of Water, a memoir exploring the author's struggle to understand his biracial identity. A bit of a Renaissance man -- he's a skilled musician who has written for the likes of soul diva Anita Baker -- McBride crossed over into the fiction camp with the war novel Miracle at St. Anna.
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Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
Oberlin Conservatory of Music; M.A., Columbia University School of Journalism
American Arts and Letters Richard Rodgers Award, 1996; ASCAP Richard Rodgers Horizons Award, 1996; Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Literary Excellence, 1997 and ALA Notable Book of the Year, 1997 for The Color of Water
|Miracle at St. Anna|
Based on an actual World War II event, McBride's fiction debut recounts a devastating massacre in a Tuscan village and tells how a band of African-American soldiers, a motley gang of Partisans, and a young Italian boy coexist amidst the chaos.
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|McBride lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three children but writes at his office in New York City, where he uses pen, paper, and a portable typewriter -- "acoustic" writing, as he calls it. |
|The Best Book to Read First||McBride's Favorite Notes|
|The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother|
McBride's memoir about growing up in an all-black housing project with 11 siblings is also a moving tribute to his mother, a woman who wouldn't admit she was white and who told her son, "God is the color of water." As a New York Times reviewer noted: "The two stories, son's and mother's, beautifully juxtaposed, strike a graceful note at a time of racial polarization."
|The Bluest Eye|
In an interview with the nonprofit New York Reads Together, McBride used a musical anaolgy to explain that "writers need to write books that people can understand, in language that people can understand. Even Toni Morrison, our greatest living treasure, can play the melody straight and true when she feels like it (The Bluest Eye), before soloing like John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman (Jazz, Beloved, etc.)."
|Photo by Dennis O'Brien||