James McBride
Song Yet Sung

Song Yet Sung

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From the publisher: "In the days before the Civil War, a runaway slave named Liz Spocott breaks free from her captors and escapes into the labyrinthine swamps of Maryland's eastern shore, setting loose a drama of violence and hope among slave catchers, plantation owners, watermen, runaway slaves, and free blacks. Liz is near death, wracked by disturbing visions of the future, and armed with 'the Code,' a fiercely guarded cryptic means of communication for slaves on the run. Filled with rich, true details—much of the story is drawn from historical events—and told in McBride's signature lyrical style, Song Yet Sung is a story of tragic triumph, violent decisions, and unexpected kindness." Add Audible narration for $10.49.

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The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother

The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother

James McBride is probably best known for his first book, memoir The Color of Water. It won all kinds of awards, was highly praised by the critics (not that that necessarily matters, but we're going to put that as a check in the pro column). The subtitle is A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother. McBride's parents had an interracial marriage back in the 1940s in America. Living now, it's almost difficult to fathom until I read something like this, just how extremely difficult that was to live in that kind of family then in that place and time. McBride speaks so well and so poignantly in this book about both his own family and their place in the world. It's really really beautiful. McBride is writing from his own experience as a native New Yorker and a musician (he studied at Oberlin College and Columbia). His writing style is clearly well-crafted and carefully honed and he's written about a wide variety of topics and yet manages to have a body of work that doesn't at all feel scattered. McBride writes about the things he's interested in in new and fascinating ways with a journalist's eye and a journalist's pen. He's written memoir, nonfiction, fiction. (You can listen to me recommend James McBride to Carly Friedman on What Should I Read Next Episode 119 and I was glad to hear McBride is on her TBR list.)

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