Seattle Rep’s A RAISIN IN THE SUN: Beyond the Theatre

Seattle Repertory Theatre presents A RAISIN IN THE SUN by Lorraine Hansberry from September 30 to October 30, 2016. Librarians at Seattle Public Library created this list of books and DVDs to enhance your experience of the show: Seattle Rep’s A RAISIN IN THE SUN: Beyond the Theatre

a-raisin-in-the-sunLorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun was an important, controversial play for its time and its themes of an African American family trying to survive and get ahead in a white world still illuminates and resonates today. Here are some further reading and viewing suggestions that will help deepen your understanding and enjoyment of the Seattle Rep’s production of Hansberry’s contemporary classic.

The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes. Hansberry took the title of her play from a line in “Harlem,” one of Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes’ most famous works. (Re)discover his poetry in this comprehensive collection.

Black Broadway: African Americans on the Great White Way by Stewart F. Lane. A RAISIN IN THE SUN was the first Broadway play written by a black woman and directed by a black man. Learn more about its history and other milestones in African American theater in this oversize, lavishly illustrated volume.

The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation by Natalie Y. Moore. If you think the racial segregation and discrimination depicted in A RAISIN IN THE SUN is long past, think again. Moore, a journalist who grew up in a black South Side Chicago neighborhood, examines the negatives effects of decades of institutionalized racism and segregation in her community.

Clybourne Park: A Play by Bruce Norris. Winner of the 2012 Tony Award for Best Play, this spin-off of A RAISIN IN THE SUN portrays the white family who sold their house to the Youngers in 1959, and 50 years on. This play is the second installment in what playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah has referred to as “The Raisin Cycle.”

Fences: A Play by August Wilson. Local playwright August Wilson explored many aspects of African American life in his work. As Hansberry did in A RAISIN IN THE SUN, Wilson deftly explores how racial discrimination complicates family dynamics in this Pulitzer Prize-winning drama. There is a forthcoming film of Fences starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis expected to open in theaters December 25th.

~posted by Misha S.

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Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month Through Reading

Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15th-October 15th, honors the histories, cultures and contributions of Americans with ancestry in Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Here are a few recent books written by Hispanic American authors to help you celebrate the month through reading.


How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez is a collection of linked short stories set over 30 years and following the four García sisters after their family escapes political tensions in the Dominican Republic and resettles in the U.S. Night at the Fiestas by Kirstin Valdez Quade is a collection of short stories, all set in rural New Mexico, about characters exploring the pressures and joys of family life and growing up. Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Sáenz is a collection of short stories about borders and boundaries centered on the Kentucky Club, a bar just south of the U.S.- Mexican divide.

In Héctor Tobar’s novel The Barbarian Nurseries, a fight between parents leaves their children in the hands of their Mexican-American maid Araceli, who sets off into Los Angeles with the children to find their grandfather. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez follows the Rivera family as it moves from Mexico to Delaware so that their daughter can receive medical care, where they meet and become intertwined with the Panamanian Toro family. Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet finds Cuban-American Lizet breaking away from her family to attend a prestigious liberal arts college in New York, only to feel pulled between her life at college and her family.


Next up is a trio of compelling personal stories. In My Beloved World Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor relates part of her life story, from growing up in a family of Puerto Rican immigrants in the South Bronx, through her pursuit of education, to the beginning of her judicial career. The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood by poet Richard Blanco is his memoir of growing up in Miami as the gay son of Cuban immigrants and his family’s struggle to remain true to their history while carving out a new life. Acclaimed author Sandra Cisneros’ A House of My Own: Stories From My Life is a compilation of 30 years of vignettes, family stories from Chicago and Mexico, and reflections on her writing life.

Rounding out this list is Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States by Felipe Fernández-Armesto, a well-done history that demonstrates the United States’ roots in Spanish and Hispanic culture and presence.

~ posted by Andrea G.

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Nightstand Reads: Seattle author Sharon H. Chang shares from her bookpile(s)

Our guest blogger today is Sharon H. Chang, author of Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World. Sharon H. Chang is a writer, scholar and activist who focuses on racism, social justice and the Asian American diaspora with a feminist lens. She serves as a consultant for Families of Color Seattle and is on the planning committee for the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference. Join us for her book talk, along with local mixed-race guest speakers and performers, on Thursday, September 29 at 7 p.m. at the Central Library.

Dear Readers,raising-mixed-race

First. Truth. I’ve got books on my nightstand but I don’t read at night. I mostly read in the early, early morning before the sun comes up; when the air outside is quiet, still and fresh; when cars are parked, the hustle bustle of the day hasn’t begun and most people are still sound asleep; most importantly my six-year-old son is still sound asleep. And I keep books all over the house. On my nightstand yes. But also on shelves, counters, in book bags, unopened and opened boxes, upstairs and downstairs, half-read, read twice, never read, will read later, reading now. In my head I have a rule “one book at a time, finish first then the next.” But in reality that never works out. There is – to simply put the simple truth – just too much exciting stuff to read and not always the perfect time to read it in.

So what’s in my for-the-morning nightstand/all-over-the-house piles right now? Continue reading

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Streetwise Revisited: Memoirs and Biographies

Follow us throughout the fall for posts which highlight library resources and information that support the Tiny: Streetwise Revisited exhibit at the Central Library and its community programming.

Memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies are a common way for people to write their own personal history or the history of others. Here are a few books written by and about people who are currently or who have been homeless at some point in their lives.


Pitch Black: Don’t Be Skerd by Youme Landowne and Anthony Horton is the result of Anthony, who resides under the New York City subway, meeting Youme, a book artist.  They strike up a conversation on the subway one day and find out they are both artists.  Part of Anthony’s life makes up this slim but powerful graphic novel.  Here’s a peek into Anthony’s life that happens countless times every single day: “People don’t see me. As far as they’re concerned … I don’t exist.”  There are ups and downs in Anthony’s life and I recommend, no I actually dare you, to read this book. Continue reading

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How to Start Investing


Investing can be a scary word, especially with the effects of the 2008 financial crisis still lingering in many people’s lives and memories. But no matter what your risk tolerance is there are tax-efficient ways to save for your life goals. Knowing the risks and potential rewards of various investment tools can help you sleep soundly at night. Whether you’re wondering what a diversified portfolio looks like, what an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is and what type might be right for you, or even how to save more money no matter how much you currently earn, these books offer ways to start planning for the future. Continue reading

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Mary Ellen Mark: Eyeing Life

Follow us throughout the fall for posts which highlight library resources and information that support the Tiny: Streetwise Revisited exhibit at the Central Library and its community programming.

The undiffused difference between the placid suburb of her youth and the rough-edged city that surrounded it became quickly apparent. In she went with her lens widening as a jagged journey ensued. Lengths and dimensions of lives spread across cityscapes of lost dreams, nightmarish realities, and undying hope.


Tiny on Pike Street Seattle, Washington, 1983

Mary Ellen Mark made her mark when the book Streetwise was first published in 1988.  Within the reeking insides of a city, runaway children observed yet another stranger inserting herself into the frame of their lives.  Who else could she be except a question dangling itself before their eyes until it, too, disappeared after having received an answering look.

Look, I don’t have to tell you that in this world there are streets not meant to be crossed and sidewalks one dare not step onto less the last step at the far end of the block means curbing your own life. The innocent are not spared, the guilty go on to greater gory and there, midway, on that tumultuous street is a woman with a camera that haunts the harm.  She knows how, even absent the suburban enclave of a carefully manicured life, life remains hungry for itself.  A woman with a camera arrives a stranger and leaves with your face in her hands. Continue reading

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Streetwise Revisited: Library Resources

Follow us throughout the fall for posts which highlight library resources and information that support the Tiny: Streetwise Revisited exhibit at the Central Library and its community programming.

Tiny Streetwise RevisitedThe Seattle Public Library is hosting the Streetwise Revisited: A 30-year Journey photography exhibit by Mary Ellen Mark exploring the lives of youth and families experiencing homelessness.

It begins next Thursday, September 15 through Thursday, November 3 at the Central Library in the Level 8 Gallery.  Public programs will take place in library and community locations.

For more information about the Exhibit and a calendar of the programs and film screenings, please visit the Streetwise Revisited page. Continue reading

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