On days like this, meaning a notable artist like Zora Neale Hurston's birthday, the custom is to suggest enjoying his or her work and to "support" others like them in their names. However, something tells me this is not what Zora would want. I think most writers take their birthdays off for things like cake, people, wine and gluttony over discipline. So today Zora wants us to party in her name. And for you to write your own novel, put elbow grease on your big dream and take her as example somebody somewhere will love your work someday.
Gholar has a provided missive for a new way to write about the creative life, art-making and (most specifically) Black women navigating those historically troubled waters for all talents.
Dear Readers: Rachel León interviewed me for Chicago Review of Books on my latest novel SPEAKING OF SUMMER, the writing life and working in Chicago. I’d forgotten how much we covered: the novel composition process, support (or the lack thereof) for mental health, inequities in approaches to men and women’s meditative literature, unsafety for women. Share, repost, comment, like and follow. Thank you!
Kalisha Buckhanon doesn’t have a smart phone. Her first advice to new writers is to get rid of it. She writes on an old desktop computer without internet for the same reason she likes being a writer in Chicago — it allows her to get work done.
And that’s lucky for us because her new novel, Speaking of Summer, is a dynamic and important story that will provoke needed conversations about the devastating effects of trauma and mental illness.
In the novel, Summer walks to the roof of the Harlem brownstone she shares with her twin sister and disappears into the cold winter night. The mysterious circumstances of her disappearance set up a compelling tale about safety and violence, mental health and trauma, and victim invisibility.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Kalisha Buckhanon over the phone. An edited transcript of our conversation appears below.
Rachel León: I…
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I'm grateful for all the readers, excitement and events for my third novel, SOLEMN. On the book's 1st Birthday, I reflect on how it all began...
We can all magnify our voices this year, to make some serious contributions and change some lives. I hope you take your ideas and visions- a new business, more love in your relationships, superior health, more education- to new heights.
I am grateful to Ron Kavanaugh and Mosaic Literary Magazine's initial interview feature on me for my second novel Conception in 2009, and their recent re-posting of that lengthy interview with poet Tara Betts in celebration of my new novel Solemn.
One book with four different covers is just one aspect of the special story and brilliance behind 'A Bitter Pill to Swallow', just released from Blurb Books as the debut novel from writer and visual artist Tiffany Gholar. 'A Bitter Pill to Swallow' is a literal and figurative testimony of perseverance, triumph and concern for humanity in a novel debut more than twenty years in the making.