Charis welcomes Rachel M. Harper in conversation with Shay Youngblood for a celebration of The Other Mother: A Novel. A page-turning generational saga about a young man's search for a parent he never knew, and a moving portrait of motherhood, race, and the truths we hide in the name of family. This event is co-hosted by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History.
Jenry Castillo is a musical prodigy, raised by a single mother in Miami. He arrives at Brown University on a scholarship—but also to learn more about his late father, Jasper Patterson, a famous ballet dancer who died tragically when Jenry was two. On his search, he meets his estranged grandfather, Winston Patterson, a legendary professor of African American history and a fixture at the Ivy League school, who explodes his world with one question: Why is Jenry so focused on Jasper, when it was Winston’s daughter, Juliet, who was romantically involved with Jenry’s mother? Juliet is the parent he should be looking for—his other mother.
Revelation follows revelation as each member of Jenry’s family steps forward to tell the story of his origin, uncovering a web of secrecy that binds this family together even as it keeps them apart. Moving seamlessly between the past and the present, The Other Mother is a daring, ambitious novel that celebrates the complexities of love and resilience—masterfully exploring the intersections of race, class, and sexuality; the role of biology in defining who belongs to whom; and the complicated truth of what it means to be a family.
Rachel M. Harper is the author of the novels Brass Ankle Blues and This Side of Providence, which was short-listed for the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has been widely published and anthologized. Harper has received fellowships from Yaddo and MacDowell, and is on the faculty at Spalding University’s School of Writing. She lives in Los Angeles.
Shay Youngblood is a writer, educator and interdisciplinary artist. Author of novels, Black Girl in Paris and Soul Kiss, a collection of short stories and numerous essays, her published plays have been widely produced. Her short stories have been performed at Symphony Space and recorded for NPR’s Selected Shorts. Youngblood received an MFA in Playwriting from Brown University. Her current projects include a novel, children’s books, an ongoing multi-media performance work on architecture, memory and the environment and a commissioned play inspired by interviews with over 100 Southern Black women. She is a board member of Yaddo Artist Colony and a commissioner on the board of the Japan U.S. Friendship Commission. www.shayyoungblood.com
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An "extraordinary" page-turning generational saga about a young man's search for a parent he never knew, and a moving portrait of motherhood, race, and the truths we hide in the name of family (Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple)
"When I was seven I told my father that I wanted to grow up to be invisible."
As a young woman of mixed race, Nellie Kincaid is about to encounter the strange, unsettling summer of her fifteenth year.
"It is a book of such power that it is as if a completely new layer of the American experience has been exposed to our view...not one line is wasted and every single word rings true." --Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple
The Collected Plays of Shay Youngblood includes Shakin' the Mess Outta Misery, Flying Blind, Square Blues, Talking Bones and There are Many Houses in my Tribe.
A gorgeously illustrated picture book that is a powerful love letter to chosen families and the village that raises us. A young girls basks in the love of her community--which includes not only her mother but the many different women who make up her world.