Deborah Taffa - Whiskey Tender

Monday, April 1, 2024 - 6:00pm

Left Bank Books presents Deborah Taffa, director of the MFA creative writing program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Editor for St. Louis' long running River Styx Magazine, and acclaimed writer! Deborah Taffa will be joining us to celebrate the release of Whiskey Tender: A Memoir which has been named a most anticipated book of the year, highlighted in The New York Times "New Books to Read" list, named by Elle to be a Best (and Most Anticipated) Nonfiction Books of 2024, among so many other lists!

Taffa will personalize and sign copies after the presentation! Personalized and signed copies will be available to be mailed anywhere in the country. For personalized copies, please order before noon on April 1st.

Taffa will be in conversation with Jesse Kavadlo, Professor of English and Humanities and the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Maryville University of St. Louis.

Join us at Left Bank Books
399 N Euclid Ave
St. Louis, MO 63108
Watch the livestream on Left Bank Books' YouTube Page

Please RSVP as space is limited

 

 

About the Speakers

Deborah Jackson Taffa is a citizen of the Quechan (Yuma) Nation and Laguna Pueblo. She earned her MFA at the Iowa Writers Workshop, and is the Director of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her writing has appeared in The Rumpus, Boston Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, A Public Space, Salon, the Huffington Post, Prairie Schooner, The Best Travel Writing, and other outlets.

Jesse Kavadlo is a Professor of English and Humanities and the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Maryville University of St. Louis. He is the author of Don DeLillo: Balance at the Edge of Belief and American Popular Culture in the Era of Terror: Falling Skies, Dark Knights Rising, and Collapsing Cultures, and co-editor of Michael Chabon's America: Magical Words, Secret Worlds, and Sacred Spaces. Jesse also writes for the magazine PopMatters and is currently President of the Don DeLillo Society.

 

About Whiskey Tender: A Memoir

Zibby Mag "Most Anticipated Book" * A San Francisco Chronicle "New Book to Cozy Up With" * A Publishers Weekly "Memoirs & Biographies: Top 10" * The Millions "Most Anticipated" * An Electric Lit "Books By Women of Color to Read" * A New York Times "New Book to Read"

"We have more Native stories now, but we have not heard one like this. Whiskey Tender is unexpected and propulsive, indeed tender, but also bold, and beautifully told, like a drink you didn't know you were thirsty for. This book, never anything less than mesmerizing, is full of family stories and vital Native history. It pulses and it aches, and it lifts, consistently. It threads together so much truth by the time we are done, what has been woven together equals a kind of completeness from brokenness, and a hope from knowing love and loss and love again by naming it so." -- Tommy Orange, National Bestselling Author of There There

Reminiscent of the works of Mary Karr and Terese Marie Mailhot, a memoir of family and survival, coming-of-age on and off the reservation, and of the frictions between mainstream American culture and Native inheritance; assimilation and reverence for tradition.

Deborah Jackson Taffa was raised to believe that some sacrifices were necessary to achieve a better life. Her grandparents--citizens of the Quechan Nation and Laguna Pueblo tribe--were sent to Indian boarding schools run by white missionaries, while her parents were encouraged to take part in governmental job training off the reservation. Assimilation meant relocation, but as Taffa matured into adulthood, she began to question the promise handed down by her elders and by American society: that if she gave up her culture, her land, and her traditions, she would not only be accepted, but would be able to achieve the "American Dream."

Whiskey Tender traces how a mixed tribe native girl--born on the California Yuma reservation and raised in Navajo territory in New Mexico--comes to her own interpretation of identity, despite her parent's desires for her to transcend the class and "Indian" status of her birth through education, and despite the Quechan tribe's particular traditions and beliefs regarding oral and recorded histories. Taffa's childhood memories unspool into meditations on tribal identity, the rampant criminalization of Native men, governmental assimilation policies, the Red Power movement, and the negotiation between belonging and resisting systemic oppression. Pan-Indian, as well as specific tribal histories and myths, blend with stories of a 1970s and 1980s childhood spent on and off the reservation.

Taffa offers a sharp and thought-provoking historical analysis laced with humor and heart. As she reflects on her past and present--the promise of assimilation and the many betrayals her family has suffered, both personal and historical; trauma passed down through generations--she reminds us of how the cultural narratives of her ancestors have been excluded from the central mythologies and structures of the "melting pot" of America, revealing all that is sacrificed for the promise of acceptance.

 

"I was completely taken by Whiskey Tender: its gorgeous sentences, its searing observations about identity and loss and inheritance, and its exploration of generational and terrestrial traumas. This is a strong and special book." -- Carmen Maria Machado, bestselling author of In the Dream House

"What makes Taffa's version exceptional is her visceral prose and sharp attunement to the tragedies of assimilation. This is a must-read." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"We have more Native stories now, but we have not heard one like this. Whiskey Tender is unexpected and propulsive, indeed tender, but also bold, and beautifully told, like a drink you didn't know you were thirsty for. This book, never anything less than mesmerizing, is full of family stories and vital Native history. It pulses and it aches, and it lifts, consistently. It threads together so much truth by the time we are done, what has been woven together equals a kind of completeness from brokenness, and a hope from knowing love and loss and love again by naming it so." -- Tommy Orange, National Bestselling Author of There There

"The result of a lifetime, Taffa's remarkable debut stands out from other contemporary memoirs and Native American literature." -- Booklist (starred review)

"A warm and propulsive personal history that lucidly traces its Native and colonial legacies to draw a complex and humane portrait of a family and a pivotal political time in U.S. history. Taffa is a gifted raconteur and her memoir should be required reading for everyone in this country." -- Melissa Febos, author of Body Work and Girlhood, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award

"Deborah Taffa's Whiskey Tender is utterly gripping, deeply moving, and absolutely true to its title: saturated with the kind of tenderness made possible by close attention and deep compassion. This memoir is an endlessly revelatory saga of growing up and growing into history, an ode to family and reclamation, an honoring of heritage and tradition that holds centuries of history while also holding close the searing particulars of daily life: jokes, night terrors, whispered confessions. Taffa never shies away from pain, or from the complexities of family, but her story always insists on joy, and explores with such lucidity the endless transformations, innovations, and acts of creation that survival requires. Taffa's Laguna grandmother said three things were necessary for a deep intimacy with homeland--sensory experiences, storied histories, and deep caring--and all three strands are so abundantly, ecstatically, present in this stunning saga of inheritance and reckoning." -- Leslie Jamison, New York Times bestselling author of The Recovering and The Empathy Exams

"Deborah Taffa's Whiskey Tender is an intricately-layered and emotional glimpse into family, discovery, and home. This memoir is both heartbreaking and beautiful and will leave you thinking about it long after finishing it. A remarkable book." -- Brandon Hobson, National Book Award finalist and author of The Removed

Event address: 
399 N. Euclid Ave.
Saint Louis, MO 63108
Books: 
Whiskey Tender: A Memoir By Deborah Taffa Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780063288515
Availability: On Our Shelves (Note - We update this inventory once per day.)
Published: Harper - February 27th, 2024

Don DeLillo In Context (Literature in Context) By Jesse Kavadlo (Editor) Cover Image
By Jesse Kavadlo (Editor)
$126.50
ISBN: 9781316515433
Availability: Ships quickly (1-7 days)
(This book cannot be returned.)
Published: Cambridge University Press - June 2nd, 2022

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