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”
In 2017 Seattle Reads The Turner House, a novel about a large African-American family set in Detroit. We hope you’ve read it, or are planning to. Perhaps it has left you wanting to know more about the Great Migration of African-Americans from the South to the North; or about the city of Detroit; about the economic crisis and eviction; or wanting to read more about families. We’ve got you covered with twelve suggestions of nonfiction to read next. Read more below or check out the list of titles in our catalog. Author Angela Flournoy will be in Seattle for a series of events May 8-11; find the full schedule here.
In 2017 Seattle Reads The Turner House by Angela Flournoy. Set in Detroit in 2008, post-economic crash, we meet the Turner family as the 13 adult siblings must decide what to do with their family home, worth only 1/10 of its mortgage. As we get to know three of the siblings better, we also get the story of how the Turner patriarch arrived in Detroit after World War II, part of the Great Migration. Flournoy will be in Seattle for a series of events May 8-11; find the full schedule here.
We hope you’ve read, or are planning to read, The Turner House. Perhaps you enjoyed the way Flournoy brings to life the dynamics of a large African-American family, or the way the city of Detroit is almost a character in itself. Perhaps you’re wondering – what do I read next? Fret not, our librarians have put together a list of fiction for fans of The Turner House to help you out.
On a homeward bound bus from New York City, I periodically put down her newest book, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, in order to compose myself. My nose ran. I warped and mottled the pages with my tears. I made an undignified, involuntary huh huh sound until the passenger in front of me turned around and wedged his face between seat and window to see exactly what was wrong. As I finished the novel that night, I took reluctant breaks from the final pages to be comforted by my girlfriend, wanting to propel myself straight through to the end but unable to do so without being held. In between all of this pathos, I also gasped and chewed on my fingers, spoke out loud without realizing it, and, at least once, discovered that my mouth was ajar in a perfect O and had been so for quite some time. I didn’t just read this book, I was occupied by it.Continue reading “Seattle Reads: An interview with author Karen Joy Fowler”
Peter Heller, author of our 2015 Seattle Reads bookThe Painter,chatted with me about the power of community book events, the inspiration for his character Jim Stegner, books he loves, and the crush he had on a librarian when he was 11 years old.