Open Book Club: An American Marriage
Join us for a conversation about Tayari Jones’ best-selling novel An American Marriage before she returns to Montclair on Saturday, Oct. 20th for OB/OM with Dr. Nell Irvin Painter at Central Presbyterian Church.
Excerpt from The Atlantic, “The Epistolary Heart of An American Marriage” by Tori Lathan, 3/7/18
“Reading someone else’s private letters feels almost as intrusive as spying on them through their living-room window. The personalized salutation, the handwriting quirks, and the inside jokes sprinkled throughout offer a glimpse at an interior world only the recipient is meant to see. There is no performance, no act put on for third-party observers. And while perusing just one letter between two people provides hints into their relationship, digging into a whole trove of letters sent over the course of several years can reveal intricacies that face-to-face interaction with the authors never would.
It is this sort of intimacy that Tayari Jones so searchingly explores in her new novel, An American Marriage, which follows the wrongful imprisonment of a young black man named Roy, and its impact on him and on his new wife Celestial. Jones shifts from the first-person narration provided by these two protagonists to letters they send each other while Roy is in prison. She then returns to their firsthand accounts, adding in a third narrator—Andre, a childhood friend of Celestial’s and a college friend of Roy’s. The variation in these perspectives serves an important purpose: It offers up myriad means of understanding the novel’s complicated central relationship, and lets every character speak for themselves, giving each an opportunity to capture the reader’s allegiance.”
Tayari Jones, is the author of the novels Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow, and An American Marriage. Her writing has appeared in Tin House, The Believer, The New York Times, and Callaloo. A member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, she has also been a recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, United States Artist Fellowship, NEA Fellowship and Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship. Silver Sparrow was added to the NEA Big Read Library of classics in 2016. Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, University of Iowa, and Arizona State University. She is a Professor of Creative Writing at Emory University.
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