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Memphis Hardcover – 1 January 1900
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"A rhapsodic hymn to Black women."--The New York Times Book Review
"I fell in love with this family, from Joan's fierce heart to her grandmother Hazel's determined resilience. Tara Stringfellow will be an author to watch for years to come."--Jacqueline Woodson, New York Times bestselling author of Red at the Bone
Summer 1995: Ten-year-old Joan, her mother, and her younger sister flee her father's explosive temper and seek refuge at her mother's ancestral home in Memphis. This is not the first time violence has altered the course of the family's trajectory. Half a century earlier, Joan's grandfather built this majestic house in the historic Black neighborhood of Douglass--only to be lynched days after becoming the first Black detective in the city. Joan tries to settle into her new life, but family secrets cast a longer shadow than any of them expected.
As she grows up, Joan finds relief in her artwork, painting portraits of the community in Memphis. One of her subjects is their enigmatic neighbor Miss Dawn, who claims to know something about curses, and whose stories about the past help Joan see how her passion, imagination, and relentless hope are, in fact, the continuation of a long matrilineal tradition. Joan begins to understand that her mother, her mother's mother, and the mothers before them persevered, made impossible choices, and put their dreams on hold so that her life would not have to be defined by loss and anger--that the sole instrument she needs for healing is her paintbrush.
Unfolding over seventy years through a chorus of unforgettable voices that move back and forth in time, Memphis paints an indelible portrait of inheritance, celebrating the full complexity of what we pass down, in a family and as a country: brutality and justice, faith and forgiveness, sacrifice and love.
"Written with the grace of a poet, Memphis is as hopeful as it is heartbreaking. I fell in love with this family, from Joan's fierce heart to her grandmother Hazel's determined resilience. Tara Stringfellow will be an author to watch for years to come. . . . A stellar debut."--Jacqueline Woodson, bestselling author of Red at the Bone
"Memphis is an evocative, compelling tale that mines the depths of collective Black pain to arrive at something that might be, for once, Black healing. Writing in the ancestral tradition of stories passed from one generation to the next--relived, revised, revealed--Tara M. Stringfellow assembles an endearing and unforgettable cast of characters who find strength in vulnerability, safety in art, and liberation in telling the truth. This is a shining, splendid testimony in the vein of Gloria Naylor, Delores Phillips, Ayana Mathis, and Honorée Jeffers."--Robert Jones, Jr., New York Times bestselling author of The Prophets
"In luminous, lyrical prose, Tara Stringfellow sings the song of the North women--and the North men--with wisdom, humor, and deep humanity. Memphis is an American epic, a tribute to life in all of its sorrow and joyful resilience."--Chloe Benjamin, bestselling author of The Immortalists
"This vivid debut novel examines the tragedies, joys, and deep connections of one extraordinary Memphis family. . . . A story populated with unforgettable characters. Stringfellow's prose is evocative. . . . A powerful family saga from a promising writer."--Booklist
"A rich tapestry of women's familial relationships . . . a well-written debut by an author worth watching for years to come . . . Recommended for anyone who appreciates Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, or Gloria Naylor."--Library Journal (starred review)
About the Author
- Publisher : Dial Press (1 January 1900)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0593230485
- ISBN-13 : 978-0593230480
- Dimensions : 16 x 2.29 x 24.18 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 663,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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“𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘳𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘥 𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘥 𝘤𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘴 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘢𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘦𝘳. 𝘓𝘢𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘴, 𝘪𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘪𝘵𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧, 𝘉𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘬. 𝘓𝘢𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘣𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘬 𝘨𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘴. 𝘓𝘢𝘶𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘤𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘶𝘱𝘭𝘪𝘧𝘵 𝘢 𝘧𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘺. 𝘈 𝘤𝘢𝘤𝘰𝘱𝘩𝘰𝘯𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘉𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘬 𝘧𝘦𝘮𝘢𝘭𝘦 𝘫𝘰𝘺 𝘪𝘯 𝘢 𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘶𝘢𝘨𝘦 𝘱𝘳𝘪𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘮.”
It’s impossible to read this book and not talk about Stringfellow’s writing. From the opening paragraphs, describing in resplendent detail a true Southern front porch, I knew I was in for a treat. Told from alternating perspectives, I highlighted so many passages, almost swooning over how well she portrayed the sister relationships, and the power she gave to her female cast. Her book was a love letter to Memphis and the women who call it home. I can’t wait to read whatever Tara Stringfellow writes next.
“𝘔𝘪𝘳𝘪𝘢𝘮 𝘧𝘦𝘭𝘵 𝘈𝘶𝘨𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘩𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘩𝘦𝘳. 𝘕𝘰𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘵. 𝘓𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘢 𝘮𝘰𝘴𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘵𝘰. 𝘖𝘳 𝘢 𝘴𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳.”
Thanks to @thedialpress and @tarastringfellow for an electronic copy of #memphis. And, bravo to @readwithjenna for another great pick!