Kimbilio & Left Bank Books presents National Book Award finalist Jamel Brinkley and Kimbilio National Fiction Prize Award winner Mary McLaughlin Slechta who will discuss their new books! Jamel Brinkley's new book Witness is described as "An elegant, stirring, insistent new book bearing out actions taken and not taken" and McLaughlin Slechta's new book Mulberry Street Stories is described as "an electric collection." Join us as we listen to these two incredible authors discuss their works as part of the Kimbilio for Black Fiction reading series!
Brinkley & Slechta will personalize and sign copies after the presentation!
About Witness: Stories
A Must-Read at The New York Times, NPR, Los Angeles Times, Vulture, The Boston Globe, Shondaland, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chicago Review of Books, Essence, Literary Hub, The Millions, The Root
"Exhilarating . . . Brinkley is a writer whose versatility knows no boundaries . . . A gift of the highest quality." --Mateo Askaripour, The New York Times Book Review
From National Book Award finalist Jamel Brinkley, Witness is an elegant, insistent narrative of actions taken and not taken.
What does it mean to really see the world around you--to bear witness? And what does it cost us, both to see and not to see?
In these ten stories, each set in the changing landscapes of contemporary New York City, a range of characters--from children to grandmothers to ghosts--live through the responsibility of perceiving and the moral challenge of speaking up or taking action. Though they strive to connect with, stand up for, care for, and remember one another, they often fall short, and the structures they build around these ambitions and failures shape their futures as well as the legacies and prospects of their communities and their city.
In its portraits of families and friendships lost and found, the paradox of intimacy, the long shadow of grief, and the meaning of home, Witness enacts its own testimony. Here is a world where fortunes can be made and stolen in just a few generations, where strangers might sometimes show kindness while those we trust--doctors, employers, siblings--too often turn away, where joy comes in snatches: flowers on a windowsill, dancing in the street, glimpsing your purpose, change on the horizon.
With prose as upendingly beautiful as it is artfully, seamlessly crafted, Jamel Brinkley offers nothing less than the full scope of life and death and change in the great, unending drama of the city.
Jamel Brinkley is the author of A Lucky Man, which won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and was a finalist for the National Book Award, the John Leonard Prize, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, A Public Space, Ploughshares, and The Best American Short Stories. He was raised in the Bronx and Brooklyn and currently teaches at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
About Mulberry Street Stories
In this electric collection, Mary Slechta brings magical realism and U.S. history to bear on the community of Mulberry Street-- an African-American neighborhood with a disputed past. Is this enclave the result of white flight, a tenuous foothold for Southern transplants, or a sliver of the world that spun off during creation, once ruled by a god named Mr. Washington? Variously featuring the area's residents, Mulberry Street Stories uphold the perseverance of hope despite intergenerational trauma and demonstrate the interconnection of human lives throughout time. Slechta's characters have seen it all, from the persistent mechanisms of systemic racism--forced migration, redlining, gentrification, and more--to the fantastical--children at danger of falling off a flat world; a vampire posing as Henry Box Brown; and a husband tasked with building a supernatural maze to trap the "somethin," the faceless oppression that has long plagued his family and now threatens his wife. In one exemplary story, Slechta writes an ode to Toni Morrison, honoring her project to elevate the untold. The protagonist, Marjorie, a griot once charged with remembering things exactly as they happened but now suffering from Alzheimer's, wanders away during a fugue. Drawn in by a taproom's enchanting music, she begins orating to strangers, captivating the bartender and unknown patrons, one of whom rests his hand on her limb "like a penny on the arm of a record player"--the touch that keeps the disjointed tales together.
Mary McLaughlin Slechta grew up in a tiny world carved out of New England by southern African-Americans and Jamaicans. She is author of The Spoonmaker's Diamond (Night Owl Press) and a poetry collection, Wreckage on a Watery Moon (FootHills). Her work appears in journals and anthologies including Mom Egg Review, Rattle, and Black Lives Have Always Mattered (2LeafPress), and is forthcoming in Jelly Bucket, midnight & indigo, and Best Small Fictions 2021. A Pushcart nominee, recipient of the Charlotte and Isidor Paiewonsky Prize from The Caribbean Writer, and two-time poet-in-residence at the Chautauqua Institution, she is a Kimbilio Fellow and editor with great weather for Media after a long career in education.