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Charis welcomes Janelle M. Williams in conversation with Nicki Salcedo for a celebration of Gone Like Yesterday. A lyrical debut novel that asks what we owe to our families, what we owe to our ancestors, and what we owe to ourselves. Janelle M. Williams’s Gone Like Yesterday employs magical realism to explore the majestic and haunting experience of being a Black woman in today’s America. This event is co-hosted by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History.
Gone Like Yesterday follows two Black women--Zahra, a listless college prep coach, and Sammie, a teenage girl and budding activist soon off to college--who are drawn to each other through the songs of gypsy moths. Gypsy moths have been singing the songs of Zahra’s ancestors to her for years, so when Zahra realizes that Sammie might be a moth person too, their paths become intertwined.
Then, the unthinkable happens: Zahra’s brother, Derrick, goes missing. Derrick has always been different—sensitive and connected to the spiritual world, he has been drifting from Zahra and her family for some time. But this time feels different. Zahra is panicked that he may really be gone for good, lost to her forever.
Zahra can’t let that happen. So, she, along with Sammie, embarks on a road trip from New York to Atlanta, Zahra’s hometown, in search of Zahra’s brother, but also to uncover just what the moths and their ancestors want with them, and what to do about their individual and collective futures.
Sharp and wholly original, Gone Like Yesterday is a novel about family and legacy but also a literary exploration of racial identity, self, and what it means to be found.
Janelle M. Williams received her BA from Howard University and her MFA in creative writing from Manhattanville College. She was a 2017 Kimbilio Fiction Fellow. She is currently the Director of Programs and Outreach at Writopia Lab. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Normal School, Shenandoah, Passages North, and Lunch Ticket, among others. Her flash fiction story Harlem Thunder was longlisted for the Wigleaf Top 50 in 2020. Gone Like Yesterday is her debut novel.
Nicki Salcedo has a degree in English and Creative Writing from Stanford University. She is the author of "All Beautiful Things" and three books of essays. Her writing career has led her to opportunities on stage, podcasts, and the radio. She teaches creative writing across the country including the writing certificate program at Emory University Continuing Education. She is also freelance writer, movie reviewer, and journalist. Nicki lives in Decatur with her husband, four kids, and cats. She loves connecting with writers and readers. You can find her on social media or her website nickisalcedo.com.
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A GOOD MORNING AMERICA BUZZ PICK
A lyrical debut novel that asks what we owe to our families, what we owe to our ancestors, and what we owe to ourselves. Janelle M. Williams’s Gone Like Yesterday employs magical realism to explore the majestic and haunting experience of being a Black woman in today’s America.
The scars. She'll never forgive her attacker.