2019 Book Selections

There There
|  Heartland  |  Heavy

There There
by Tommy Orange

ggfreads-2019-orange

About the Book:

ONE OF THE 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR—THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

WINNER OF THE CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE

One of the Best Books of the Year: The Washington Post, NPR, Time, O, The Oprah Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Entertainment Weekly, The Dallas Morning News, Buzzfeed, BookPage, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLER

Tommy Orange’s “groundbreaking, extraordinary” (The New York Times) There There is the “brilliant, propulsive” (People Magazine) story of twelve unforgettable characters, Urban Indians living in Oakland, California, who converge and collide on one fateful day. It’s “the year’s most galvanizing debut novel” (Entertainment Weekly).

As we learn the reasons that each person is attending the Big Oakland Powwow—some generous, some fearful, some joyful, some violent—momentum builds toward a shocking yet inevitable conclusion that changes everything. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life back together after his uncle’s death and has come to work at the powwow to honor his uncle’s memory. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil, who has taught himself traditional Indian dance through YouTube videos and will to perform in public for the very first time. There will be glorious communion, and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and loss.

There There is a wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seen. It’s “masterful . . . white-hot . . . devastating” (The Washington Post) at the same time as it is fierce, funny, suspenseful, thoroughly modern, and impossible to put down. Here is a voice we have never heard—a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with urgency and force. Tommy Orange has written a stunning novel that grapples with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and profound spirituality, and with a plague of addiction, abuse, and suicide. This is the book that everyone is talking about right now, and it’s destined to be a classic.

About the Author:

Tommy Orange is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel There There, a multi-generational, relentlessly paced story about a side of America few of us have ever seen: the lives of urban Native Americans. There There was just named to the National Book Awards Long List. Orange is a recent graduate from the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is a 2014 MacDowell Fellow, and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow. He is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He was born and raised in Oakland, California, and currently lives in Angel’s Camp, California.

To learn more about Orange, follow him on Twitter.

Tommy Orange’s Visit to GGF

Tommy Orange will participate in the 50th Annual UND Writers Conference, “What the Future Holds,” which will take place March 20-22, 2019 at the Memorial Union on UND’s campus. His reading will be on Wednesday, March 20th, at 8pm. The events are free and open to the public. Free parking is available. To learn more, visit www.undwritersconference.org.


Humanities North Dakota Game Changer Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth
by Sarah Smarsh

ggfreads-2019-smarsh

About the Book:

*Finalist for the National Book Award and the Kirkus Prize*
*Instant New York Times Bestseller*
*Named a Best Book of 2018 by NPR, The New York Post, Buzzfeed (Nonfiction), Shelf Awareness (Nonfiction), Bustle, and Publishers Weekly (Nonfiction)*

An essential read for our times: an eye-opening memoir of working-class poverty in America that will deepen our understanding of the ways in which class shapes our country.

Sarah Smarsh was born a fifth generation Kansas wheat farmer on her paternal side, and the product of generations of teen mothers on her maternal side. Through her experiences growing up on a farm thirty miles west of Wichita, we are given a unique and essential look into the lives of poor and working class Americans living in the heartland.

During Sarah’s turbulent childhood in Kansas in the 1980s and 1990s, she enjoyed the freedom of a country childhood, but observed the painful challenges of the poverty around her; untreated medical conditions for lack of insurance or consistent care, unsafe job conditions, abusive relationships, and limited resources and information that would provide for the upward mobility that is the American Dream. By telling the story of her life and the lives of the people she loves with clarity and precision but without judgement, Smarsh challenges us to look more closely at the class divide in our country.

A beautifully written memoir that combines personal narrative with powerful analysis and cultural commentary, Heartland examines the myths about people thought to be less because they earn less.

“A deeply humane memoir that crackles with clarifying insight, Heartland is one of a growing number of important works—including Matthew Desmond’s Evicted and Amy Goldstein’s Janesville—that together merit their own section in nonfiction aisles across the country: America’s postindustrial decline…Smarsh shows how the false promise of the ‘American dream’ was used to subjugate the poor. It’s a powerful mantra” (The New York Times Book Review).

About the Author:

Sarah Smarsh is an author, educator, speaker, and journalist who focuses on socioeconomic class and rural America. Her book Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth examines historic economic inequality and tells the story of her upbringing among the working poor on a Kansas farm. It was just named to the National Book Awards Long List.

By ninth grade, Sarah attended eight southern-Kansas schools, ranging from a 2,000-student high school to a two-room prairie schoolhouse. She holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia, as well as degrees in journalism and English from the University of Kansas. Her book, Heartland, has been compared to Jeannette Walls’ bestselling memoir The Glass Castle and is a perfect companion to Barbara Ehrenreich’s iconic Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America. A former English professor and grant-writer for social service agencies, Sarah aims for all of her work to have a backbone of civic responsibility.

Sarah’s reportage and commentary have been published by The Guardian, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Harper’s, and many other publications. Her essays on class and poverty, “Poor Teeth” and “The First Person on Mars,” were both listed as notables in Best American Essays. Sarah recently published a four-part piece in No Depression about Dolly Parton and the working-class feminism found in country music. She is a regular commentator in national media and has spoken on poverty, politics, rural issues, cultural divides and the future of news. Sarah was recently a Fellow at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and will soon launch a much-anticipated podcast about class and rural America.

As a fifth-generation Kansas farm kid, Sarah is a long-time dancer of the Country Two-Step, and she once won a nail-driving contest. She lives in Kansas.

To learn more about Smarsh, visit her website https://sarahsmarsh.com or follow her on Twitter.

Sarah Smarsh’s Visit to GGF

Sarah Smarsh will participate in the 50th Annual UND Writers Conference, “What the Future Holds,” which will take place March 20-22, 2019 at the Memorial Union on UND’s campus. Her reading will be on Thursday, March 21st, at 8pm. The events are free and open to the public. Free parking is available. To learn more, visit www.undwritersconference.org.


Heavy
by Kiese Laymon

 

ggfreads-2019-laymon

About the Book:

*Named a Best Book of 2018 by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Buzzfeed (Nonfiction), The Undefeated, Library Journal (Biography/Memoirs), The Washington Post (Nonfiction), Southern Living (Southern), Entertainment Weekly, and The New York Times Critics*

*Shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal and Kirkus Prize Finalist*

In this powerful and provocative memoir, genre-bending essayist and novelist Kiese Laymon explores what the weight of a lifetime of secrets, lies, and deception does to a black body, a black family, and a nation teetering on the brink of moral collapse.

Kiese Laymon is a fearless writer. In his essays, personal stories combine with piercing intellect to reflect both on the state of American society and on his experiences with abuse, which conjure conflicted feelings of shame, joy, confusion and humiliation. Laymon invites us to consider the consequences of growing up in a nation wholly obsessed with progress yet wholly disinterested in the messy work of reckoning with where we’ve been.

In Heavy, Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about growing up a hard-headed black son to a complicated and brilliant black mother in Jackson, Mississippi. From his early experiences of sexual violence, to his suspension from college, to his trek to New York as a young college professor, Laymon charts his complex relationship with his mother, grandmother, anorexia, obesity, sex, writing, and ultimately gambling. By attempting to name secrets and lies he and his mother spent a lifetime avoiding, Laymon asks himself, his mother, his nation, and us to confront the terrifying possibility that few in this nation actually know how to responsibly love, and even fewer want to live under the weight of actually becoming free.

A personal narrative that illuminates national failures, Heavy is defiant yet vulnerable, an insightful, often comical exploration of weight, identity, art, friendship, and family that begins with a confusing childhood—and continues through twenty-five years of haunting implosions and long reverberations.

About the Author:

Kiese Laymon is a black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin College. He earned an MFA in Fiction from Indiana University. Laymon is currently the Ottilie Schillig Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi. He served as the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Nonfiction at the University of Iowa in Fall 2017. Laymon is the author of the novel, Long Division and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, the UK edition released in 2016.

Laymon has written essays, stories and reviews for numerous publications including Esquire, McSweeneys, New York Times, ESPN the Magazine, Colorlines, NPR, LitHub, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, PEN Journal, Fader, Oxford American, The Best American Series, Ebony, Travel and Leisure, Paris Review and Guernica. Heavy a memoir,  released in October 2018, has been named a Best Book of 2018 by Publisher’s Weekly and is currently shortlisted for a Carnegie Medal. He has novel forthcoming, And So On, in 2019, from Scribner.

Kiese Laymon’s Visit to GGF

Kiese Laymon will participate in the 50th Annual UND Writers Conference, “What the Future Holds,” which will take place March 20-22, 2019 at the Memorial Union on UND’s campus. His reading will be on Friday, March 20th, at 8pm. The events are free and open to the public. Free parking is available. To learn more, visit www.undwritersconference.org.

To learn more about Kiese Laymon, visit his website https://www.kieselaymon.com/ or follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

(all blurbs about books courtesy of Amazon)