Oprah’s newest book club pick, An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones, tells the story of newlyweds, Roy and Celestial, whose relationship is tested by an unjust penal system. The book explores lingering racial injustice in the American South and the tumultuous effects it has on the lives of its characters.
A Kind of Freedom, by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton, personalizes the trajectory of racism in American by exploring how racism affects three generations of an African-American family in New Orleans. Through the lens of Evelyn, Jackie, and T.C., Sexton takes us through the Jim Crow South in the 1940s, the drug epidemic and economic recession in the 1980s, and the current crisis of mass incarceration in post-Katrina New Orleans.
Like An American Marriage and A Kind of Freedom, Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing sketches an intimate portrait of family life in the contemporary American South. All three titles deal with the effects of racism and incarceration on the people and families involved. Each book also provides alternating points of view between three of the characters, illuminating the individual responses to their circumstances.
Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is required reading. If you enjoyed An American Marriage, Alexander’s work will provide background and perspective on the justice system that wrongly imprisons Roy Hamilton. Alexander argues that, despite having elected our first African-American president, racism is still alive and well in America, and has merely changed shape over the past century.
Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row, Anthony Ray Hinton (forthcoming)
-Contributed by Cailín C., Adult Services Librarian