Grandparents’ Day may be in September, but a new crop of picture books is here to help us celebrate grandmas and grandpas and nanas and paw-paws year-round. That’s only fitting, because there are more grandparents today than ever before, according to The Census Bureau. And the special ways they love, teach and relate to their children’s children is proven fodder for vivid, powerful storytelling. Look no further than these three titles I discovered at the Texas Book Festival. May they remind . . .
Emphatic and unsparing, Kiese Laymon’s Heavy explores the weight of wellness in a culture obsessed with lean. His expansive intelligence and fluid prose bear up to haunting family secrets and American deceptions with deep, potent wells of beauty, humor, and empathy. Initially conceived as a weight-loss story chronicling his family’s struggles with food and violence, the writing of Heavy, which was recently named a finalist for the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction, got murkier when relatives . . .
The stunning Austin Central Library, already a finalist for the International Federation of Library Associations’ Public Library of the Year, leaped in prestige by winning LEED Platinum Building Certification this summer. The award confirms that the space’s design and construction exemplify the utmost concern for human and environmental health. The library scored high marks for its green power, water-recycling systems, daylight use, views and community connectivity. Yet, we should feel . . .
Dark and absorbing, Nafissa Thompson-Spires’ debut story collection, Heads of the Colored People, explores the unstable moorings of black identity and citizenship in blistering stories peopled with indelible characters. The title derives from a series of 19th-century literary sketches of free black laborers penned by Dr. James McCune Smith. That Smith, a black abolitionist, intellectual, and elite, chose washerwomen and gravediggers for literary representation and pondered them as “heads” of . . .
Tayari Jones is unequivocal in her belief that mass incarceration, with its attendant state violence, is the “most pressing civil rights issue of our day.” Yet her latest novel, An American Marriage, makes an unjust incarceration the backdrop for a nuanced interrogation of another issue of social freedom and equality: a wife’s right to pursue her own desires and fulfill her aspirations independently of her husband. Celestial is an artist on the cusp of critical and commercial success at the . . .
It is an honor to be featured in Tribeza Magazine's People of the Year for 2017-the artists, thinkers, builders, and visionaries shaping the future of Austin. . . .
National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward has stared down truth and rendered it on the page with poignance and precision before. But for her third novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing, Ward forged a fresh set of writing tools—historical research, multiple first-person points of view, and a touch of the supernatural—to grapple with the legacy wounds of American racism. Urgent and evocative, Sing, Unburied, Sing explores the inescapable force of history bearing down on thepresent. Dense, multigenerational . . .
Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s grandfather graduated from college and six of his children followed suit. But the next generation struggled to keep pace even as the specter of Jim Crow receded. “I wanted to know why,” she says, and chose fiction as her probe. The Dartmouth and UC Berkeley Law graduate’s research revealed the war on drugs and mass incarceration as modern barriers to opportunity. Her challenge became illuminating the culprits in narrative form. That is, writing a page-turner, not a . . .
Artist Misha Maynerick Blaise’s latest publication traverses the universe from microbes to galaxies with a winning mix of scientific curiosity and joyous sparkle. Her volume, This Phenomenal Life: The Amazing Ways We Are Connected with Our Universe, lauds the majesty of starry skies and dense forests, but directs our attention to the wilderness within—the ever-cycling world of growth, death and rebirth invisible to the naked eye. Through whimsical illustrations and hand lettering, . . .
It's Toast Time in Austin, the wonderful season when exceptional parties bloom around town in support of the St. David's Foundation Neal Kocurek Scholarship Fund. I had the distinct pleasure of participating in the first two parties this year. I moderated a discussion with Karan Mahajan, author of The Association Small Bombs, at Saturday afternoon's event, then appeared on Tuesday night with Shaka at a party where he was the featured speaker. Both were great opportunities to show support for . . .