In celebration of Seattle Reads 2019, Jess Boyd spoke to Thi Bui about her award- winning graphic novel,The Best We Could Do(TBWCD), the 2019 Seattle Reads selection.
An Interview with Thi Bui
by Jess Boyd
Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Do is a story that moved me, my family and my community. It gave voice to feelings and frustrations that I had yet to articulate and acted as a medium to bridge generations and countries.
The story is a multigenerational saga told through Bui’s past and present selves. Bui generously shares herself at different moments throughout her life, as a child, as a sibling, as a new mother, allowing us to see the far reaching ripples of war, and the way that those ripples can become waves that carry people across oceans.
Jess Boyd: Where was the birthplace of your creativity?
Thi Bui: I have to take a moment to allow myself to accept the compliment embedded in this question. “Ya not creative!” shouts my inner Viet.
Okay, it’s good now. I remember making things and daydreaming when I was a kid as a form of escape. Whether I was escaping my drab physical environment or tense emotional environment, I’m not sure … maybe both? It’s not like that anymore but that was how being creative started — first as an escape and then as a rebellion.
The Seattle Public Library has physical comics for children, teens, and adults available for checkout in all of our 27 locations, as well as through our mobile services. We also have comics available through our Hoopla Digital service. But did you know, amongst all of the mysteries, memoirs, and literary fiction e-books, that we also have approximately 1,700 “comic and graphic works” in our OverDrive collection?! This collection includes popular kids comics like the Narwhal and Jelly series, relatable webcomics such as “Sarah’s Scribbles,” award winners like Kindred… and even the 2019 Seattle Reads selection The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui!
In 2018 Seattle Reads Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Beginning in Ghana, 1760, Homegoing follows the parallel paths of two half-sisters and seven generations of their descendants in Ghana and the United States, in a stunning saga of the African diaspora that illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy. Gyasi will be in Seattle for a series of events May 16-17; find the full schedule here, including book groups, genealogy workshops, and three appearances by Gyasi.
We hope you’ve read, or are planning to read, Homegoing. Perhaps you enjoyed how Gyasi portrayed the sweep of familial generations, or the evocation of families dealing with enslavement and the aftermath. Perhaps you’re wondering – what do I read next? Fret not, our librarians have put together a list of fiction for fans of Homegoing to help you out.
In 2018 Seattle Reads Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Beginning in Ghana, 1760, Homegoing follows the parallel paths of two half-sisters and seven generations of their descendants in Ghana and the United States in a stunning saga of the African diaspora that illuminates slavery’s troubled legacy. Gyasi will be in Seattle for a series of events May 16-17; find the full schedule here, including book groups, genealogy workshops, and three appearances by Gyasi.
We hope you’ve read, or are planning to read, Homegoing. Perhaps you’re interested in learning more about Cape Castle in Ghana, or in hearing first hand narrative of what it was like to be on a slave ship, or finding true multi-generational stories of families brought to the US via slavery. Perhaps you’re wondering – how do I learn more? Our librarians have you covered with this list of nonfiction for readers of Homegoing.
The Turner family could be my own or any number of families that surrounded my family during my early years growing up in Seattle. Families with similar backgrounds, mostly Arkansas roots, gathered together in homes throughout the Central Area of Seattle. The familiar was an important element of making a new life after migrating from the South. Stories, food, traditions, introductions to newly arrived family members, and notes on where you were and were not welcome were all a large part of the developing culture of African Americans in the North.
The Turner family roots are linked to Little Rock and Pine Bluff, Arkansas, just as my own family—and on my mother’s side, three of her brothers—moved to Detroit seeking a middle class life in the auto industry. Summer visits to Detroit were frequent and memorable. Even though many of our parents, aunts, and uncles have passed on, still today, conversations with friends and relatives in Seattle with Detroit roots harken back to our memories of 8 Mile Road, Gratiot Avenue, Motown, and fun at Belle Isle.
Angela Flournoy’s beautifully written The Turner House is an invitation for readers to explore another American story, solidly formed from the Great Migration, and representative of the stories many African Americans know well today, as changing demographics drastically impact the piece of the American Dream that inspired their ancestors’ courage: property ownership. Continue reading “Seattle Reads 2017: A conversation with Angela Flournoy”