Episode 9: Tayari Jones

AWM Author Talks
AWM Author Talks
Episode 9: Tayari Jones

This week, Booklist editor Donna Seaman chats with Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage, which was a selection for Oprah’s Book Club.

We hope you enjoy entering the mind of a writer. Listen to more episodes here.


“Prison is family separation. It’s happening on our border but it’s also happening right in our cities. Every person in prison is separated from your loved ones and when you are taken from your loved ones you are taken away from the relationships that make you who you are. It necessarily robs you of some of your personality, some of the way you understand yourself.”

“When I write novels I don’t know what’s gonna happen. I like to feel breathless and stressed when I write. The same way you read. Like, if I were to figure it out early, just like if someone spoils it you don’t want to keep reading, if I spoiled it for myself I wouldn’t want to keep writing it.”

“I am obsessed with Toni Morrison. OBSESSED. I’ll tell you how obsessed. I have on my desk a little bit of dirt from the town of Lorain, Ohio where she’s from. And sometimes I sprinkle a little bit. And if I have a student with a really, really serious problem, I’ll give them just a pinch. Just a little pinch of that Toni Morrison dirt.”

“I didn’t know that I could be a writer. I didn’t know that was something available for me to be.”

“What he’s lost, I realized, is his citizenship in his own life. We are citizens of our own lives, of our communities, of our country by what we can give back. You join a community by giving to that community. And he didn’t realize he could give anyone anything.”

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