The Author in a Lie: Book Club Roundup

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“It’s funny—when it comes to memoir, we want to catch the author in a lie. For fiction, we want to catch the author telling the truth,” Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow, says in a self-interview on The Nervous Breakdown.

“I took sparrow from the hymn ‘His Eye Is On The Sparrow’ — being the sparrow is the least among us,” Jones told NPR. “Because I think that’s what Dana [the protagonist] is, she’s a silver sparrow.” Listen to an interview of Jones and read an excerpt of Silver Sparrow on the NPR website.

Poor Sap Publishing blogger John Francisconi is taken by Silver Sparrow and Jones’ control of language:The most remarkable part of Silver Sparrow is its pacing. The novel moves at a very steady rhythm, Jones’s words on the page like musical notes.”

Francisconi also writes up Daniel Orozco‘s Orientation, noting: “Each of Orozco’s characters is made real by his vivid and sharp characterizations, and they’re each burdened with pain, prettified by his prose.”

The Boston Phoenix interviews Orozco here.

PBS Newshour interviews Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars, a poetry collection which explores the human relationship with the universe. Watch the video of the interview.

Tablet ran a feature on Deborah Baker‘s The Convert, a “strange and haunting story” about a Jewish woman who converts to Islam. “To read The Convert is to begin to understand the appeal of that world to someone at sea in ours.”

The New York Times writes: “Deborah Baker is a serious biographer who specializes in fairly crazy writers.” The Times reviewer commends Baker for proving “how a marginal case can be an illuminating way into vast and much disputed subjects, in this instance the meeting of West and East and the role of women under orthodox Islam.”

Jewcy also reviews Baker’s book: “All in all, I’d say this book is a beautiful illustration of a profoundly unique person, Maryam Jameelah. If you like a biography with a twist, The Convert is for you.”

Christy DeSmith, of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, finds Jameelah’s letters to her parents the most beguiling aspect of The Convert: “they’re intelligent and witty and riddled with religious hypocrisy, not to mention bouts of psychotherapy and mental illness.”


Maddie Oatman has interviewed musicians and writers for The Rumpus. She's the research editor at Mother Jones, where she also writes. A Boulder transplant, she can often be found on her bike, skis, or cooking with vegetables, and she wrote her English thesis on a gay red-winged monster and Billy the Kid. Follow her on Twitter or read occasional musings on her blog Oats. More from this author →