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tv   Colson Whitehead Discusses the Underground Railroad  CSPAN  November 20, 2016 4:00pm-4:46pm EST

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at emery university and i teach human rights and u.s. rights and u.s. cold war policy. >> how long have you been doing that. >> oh, i have been teaching since 1996. so wow, two decades. >> where did you go up? >> i grew up in columbus, ohio. i grew up in columbus, ohio, i saw the policies there. >> it is not just the south necessarily in your view. >> oh, no, no. >> did you go up in init greated
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or segregated area? >> when we moved in, my father was military man, career military, after serving 20 plus years in the army he moved the family to columbus, ohio, because he wanted my brother to go to ohio state and when we got there, there was a house in oakland park my mother wanted, the real estate agent said you people don't live there. i show you where you people live. we bought a house in the neighborhood by the time it was integrated, within two years there was only one white family left. so my elementally and junior high were almost predominantly black. then i was bused in high school. >> carol anderson, professor at emery, ought of this book, the unspoken truth of our racial divide. we have a longer program on with her from
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ferguson, missouri we taped if you're interested. type her name into our web suite. type in carol anderson book, you will see the full program. thank you for being on booktv. >> thank you so much. >> our coverage from miami continues. we want to introduce you to a novelist but also the winner of this year's national book award, colson whitehead, talking about his new book "the underground railroad". >> welcome back, everybody. let's get started. i'm leila kite, your room host for the day. a little weary by this time. glad to be here. i'm chair of the brickell avenue literary society.
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turn your cell phones off please. thank you you all for coming. thank the sponsors. we need to do that in every session, they are so important to the success of the fair. big thanks to knight foundation, ohl, the bachelor foundation, the degroot foundation. as always, thank you to all the friends of the book fair. we hope everybody who is in this room will be a friend by next year so you can enjoy all the activities that are available for friends during the year. we thank our volunteers. we thank the staff of the book fair and super big thanks to miami-dade college. [applause] okay, thanks to all. we have a big crowd for a mighty important prize winning author. let me start by disusing his introducer. marcia dunne is a long-time miami resident.
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she has been, talk about good examples, a friend of the miami book fair since the very first year. how many of you are founding book fair friends? anybody else been around as long as marcia? a few. okay, good. anyway, she is an alumni of barnard college and the university of miami school of law. she supports many cultural institutions in town but she says that she is most devoted to and most passionate about the book fair. she says that the popularity of the book fair says more about the intellectual climate of miami than any other event. i think we will all agree with her. please welcome marcia dunne, who will introduce our next conversationalist. thank you. [applause] >> i'm first going to introduce
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lee haber who will be the questioner for colson whitehead. lee is the books editor for "o," oprah magazine. oprah selected the underground railroad as one of her books this year. lee began her career in book lush liking as a news aide for "the washington post." she worked for harcourt brace and other publishers. her first love is editing. she woked as an editor with many famous writers alice walker, steve martin, lou reed, the list goes on. i'd like to welcome lee haber who is going to be our questioner. [applause] >> colon whitehead was hailed as one of merck's most talented and innovative authors before the
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publication of "underground railroad." his 8th book. a native new yorker, harvard graduate, professor, mcarthur genius award winner, guggenheim fellow, whiting writers award winner, mr. white ahead is now the recipient of the 2016 national book award for fiction. [applause] we are so fortunate to have him here. the novel was published to uniform acclaim both for its devastating account of the terrible human cost of slavery and for its unique style. mr. whitehead freely mixes the surreal with the real and changes the chronological order of events to create a novel of tremendous, chilling power. it is the tale of cora, a slave
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on a plantation in georgia in the 1800s. the opening sentence says it all, "the first time caesar approached cora about running north, she said, no." i urge all of you to discover what happens when he asks her a second time. and now it is my great pleasure to introduce colson whitehead and welcome him to our miami book fair. [applause] >> hey, thanks so much for coming. thanks to the miami book fair for having me. i usually spend sunday afternoons in my apartments weeping over my regrets. so this is nice change of pace. in p.j.s.
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first i had idea for the book 16 years ago. i was sitting in my house came across a reference book for the railroad and remember in fourth frayed for a few moments until my teacher explained how it actually worked i envision ad literal underground network beneath america like a subway. of course that is very imrack -- impractical for many reasons. this day 16 years ago, that would be a weird premise for a book if the underground railroad was a literal train that is premise, not much of a story. so i added the element where each states our character goes through as she runs north, south carolina, north carolina, is a different state of american possibility. like gulliver's travel, an alternative america. seemed like a really good idea but i knew if i tried it then i would screw it up. so i decided to wait until i was a better writer, a little more mature.
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each time i finish a book i would pull out my notes think, am i ready? each time the answer was no until 2 1/2 years ago. i sold a book idea to my editor and but i was feeling a little bit unsure. i told my wife about the idea about the underground railroad book, sometimes in a marriage, you have to talk, make conversation, to kill the silences. and so she said, i don't want to say that the book you're working on now about a brooklyn writer going through a midlife crisis is dumper say, but this other book sounds pretty interesting. i said, huh. so i went to my agent. i worked with for 18 years and told her and she said, well, both ideas sound good, which is not very helpful. but then she emailed me on a sunday which she never does and
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usually your agent tries to contact you on a sunday you've done something wrong. instead she said, i can't stop thinking about that other idea. i was like, huh, two. so wednesday was shrink day. so i told my shrink. and she said, what, are you crazy? [laughter] i mean we both know you're crazy but it sound like this is the thing you should be working on. i went back to my editor who i have worked with for a long time and i sold this other idea and, she just said, giddy up, mother blankety-blank, which is old school publishing talk, that is a good idea and we should pursue it. [laughter]. so i did and this is the result. so i'm going to read two brief sections. one is early in the book. it's the birthday of old jockey. he is the oldest slave on the plantation. when he sense as need for
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release, he declares it is my birthday. it could be once or twice a year and they have a feast or music and brief release from the hell of the plantation. caesar is the slave who eventually convinced cora to run north. she grew up on a plantation on a small farm in virginia and was promised when his owner died he would be set free but she left no instructions. so he was sold down south to a much more brutal slave system. now he is at the randall plantation with cora, which is owned by a james and terrence randall. then there is a reference to chester who a young boy, 10 years old, who cora, our protagonist has taken under her wing. the music stopped, the circle broke. sometimes a slave will be lost in a brief eddie of liberation in the way of a sudden ref veriry of the furrows untangling the mysteries of an early morning dream.
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in the middle after song on a warm sunday night. then it comes always, the overseers cry, the call to work, the shadow of the master. the reminder that she is only a human being for a tiny moment across the eternity of her servitude. the randall brothers had emerged from the great house and were among them. the slaves stepped aside making calculations of what distance represented the right proportion of fear and respect. godfrey, james's house boy, held up a lantern. according to old jockey, james favored the mother, stout as a brow and furrow in countenance. james took after the father, tall, olive faced, perpetually on the verge of swooping down on prey. in addition to the land they inherited their father's tailor who arrived once a month in his rickety carriage with samples of cotton. the brothers continued to do
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into manhood. the white trousers and shirts was clean as a laundry girl's hands could make them. the orange globe of the lantern made the men look like ghosts emerging from the dark. master james, jockey said, his good hand whipped the arm of the chair if to rise. master terrance. don't let us disturb you terrance said. my brother and i were discussing business and heard the music. i told him, that is the most god awful racket i have ever heard. the randalls drinking wine of goblets of cut glass, looked if they drain ad few bottles. cora searched for caesar's face in the crowd. she didn't find him. he hadn't been present the last time the brothers appeared together on the northern half of plantation. did well to remember the different lessons of those occasions. something always happened when the ran dales ventured into the quarter, sooner or later a new thing coming, you couldn't
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predict until it was upon you. james left the daily operations to his man conley and rarely visited. he might grant a tour to a visitor, a distinguished neighbor or curious planter from another neck of the woods but it was rare. james rarely addressed his his nigger. is who were lashessed if they ignored his presence. terrance usually apraised each slave and made the note of which men were the moats able and which women were the most appealing. he grazed heart teleupon the woman of his own half. i liked to taste my plums, terrance said, prowling the rose of cash bins to see what struck his fancy. he violated bonds of affection, visiting slaves on the wedding night to show the husband the proper way to disargue his marital duty. he tasted his plums and broke the skin and left his mark.
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it was accepted that james was of a different orientation. to hear his valet priedful tell it, james confined erotic energies to specialized room in a new orleans establishment. the madam was broad-minded and modern. adept in the trajectories of human desire. priedful stories's stories were hard to believe despite assurances he received his reports from the staff of the place with whom he had grown close over the years. after all, what kind of white man would women ily submit to the whip? terrance scratched his cain in the dirt. it had been his father's cain, topped with a silver wolf's head. many remembered it on their flesh. terrance said he recollected about a nigger down here could recite the declaration of independence. i can't bring myself to believe him. i told him tonight he could show me since everyone is out and about from the sound of it.
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we'll settle it, james, said. where is that boy, michael? no one said anything. godfrey waived the lantern around profet i cannily. moses was the boss unfortunate to stand closest to the randall brothers. he cleared his throat. michael dead, master james. michael the, the slave in question indeed possessed the ability to recite long passages. according to connelly who erred this the story from the trader, michael's former master was fascinated by the ability of south american parrots, and reasoned if the bird could be taught limericks a slave might be taught to remember as well. merely glancing at the size of their skulls, told you that the nigger possess ad bigger brain than a bird. michael had been the son of his master's coach man, had a animal cleverness, the kind you see in pigs sometimes. the master and his unlikely
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pupil started with simple rhymes and short passages from popular british verse fibers. they went over the words and if truth be told the master only half understood. but they made miracles the tobacco farmer and the coachman's son. the deck a race of independence was their masterpiece. michael's ability never amounted to more than a parlor trick, delighting visitors before the discussion turned as it always did, to the diminished faculties of niggers his own grew bored and sold him south. by the time he got to randall, torture or punishment adeled his senses. he was mediocre worker and noises and black spells that blotted his memory. in exasperation, connelly beat what little brains he had left. it was discouraging michael was not intended to survive and achieved its purpose.
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i should have been told, james said, his displeasure plain. michael's recitation that a novel a few times he trotted the nigger out for guests. terrance liked to tease his brother. james, he said, you need to keep better track of your property. don't meddle, terrance continued. i know your slaves had rebels but i had no idea they were so extravagant. are you trying to make me look bad? don't pretend you care what a nigger thinks about you, terrance. james's glass was empty. he turned to go. oh, one more song, james, these sounds have grown on plea -- me. george and wesley the musicians were forlorn. the tambourine were nowhere to be seen. james pressed his lips into a slit. he gestured and the men started playing. terrance tapped his cain.
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his face sank as he took in the crowd. you're not going to dance? i have to insist. you and you and you, and you. they didn't wait for their master's signal. the slaves of the northern half converged on the alley haltingly trying to insinuate themselves into the previous rythym and put on a show. putting on a show for master was familiar skill. the small angles and advantages of the mask and they shook off their fear as they settled into their performance. oh, how they capered and hollered, shouted and hopped. this was most lively song they ever heard. the musicians the most accomplished players the colored race had to offer. cora dragged herself into the circle, checking the randall brothers reactions on every turn like everyone else. jockey tumbled his hands in his lap to keep time. cora found caesar's face. he stood in the shadow of the kitchen. his expression flat.
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then, he withdrew. you! it was terrance. he held his hand before him as if it were covered in some eternal stain only he could see. then cora caught sight of it. single drop of red wine staining the cuff of his lovely white shirt. chester, the boy, had bumped him. chester simpered and bowed before the white man. sorry, master, sorry master. the cain came across his shoulder and head, again and again. the boy screamed and shrank to the dirt as the blows continued. ter ran's arm rose and fell. james looked tired. one drop. a feeling so fell over cora, she had not been under its spell in years since she brought the hatchet down on blake's dog hoist and sent splinters into the air. seen men hung for from trees and left for buzzards and crows.
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women cashed to the bones with cat of nine tails. feet cut off to stop escape and hands cut off to stop theft. she had seen boys younger than this beaten and done nothing. this night the feeling settled over her heart again. it grabbed ahold of her. before the slave part of her caught up with the human part of her, she was bent over the boy's body as a shield. she held the cain in her hand like a swamp man handling a snake and saw the ornament at its tip. the silver wolf baird its silver teeth. then the cain was out of her hand. it came down on her head. it crashed down again and again. this time the silver chief ripped across her eyes and her blood splattered the dirt. so that is it for that section. i guess you can see how things deteriorate for cora on the plantation and she decides to take caesar up on his offer. and she has a few adventures,
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misadventures and ends up later in the book on valentine farm where free men and free women have and run aways and fugitives have set up their own community, a kind of a black utopia commune. and they work together and every saturday, they have music and they debate the philosophical issues of the day about what's next in black society. and mingo is a more conservative voice and he is having debate with lander who is more progressive choice. mingo has just spoken and lander addresses valentine farm. brother mingo made some good points, lander said. we can't save everyone but that doesn't mean we can't try.
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sometimes a useful delusion is better than a useless truth. here is one delusion. that we can escape slavery. we can't. its scars will never fade. when you saw your mother sold off, your father beaten, your sister abused by some boss, or master, did you ever think that you would sit here today without chains, without the yoke, among a new family? everything you ever knew told you that freedom was a trick, yet here you are, still rerun, tracking by the good full moon to sanctuary. valentine farm is delusion. who told you that the negro deserve ad place of refuge? who told you that you had that right? every minute of your life's suffering has argued otherwise. but every fact of history, it can exist. this place was be a delusion too. yet here we are.
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and america too is delusion. the grandest one of all. the white race believes, believes with all of its heart that it is their right to take the land, to kill indians, make war and enslave their brothers. this nation shouldn't exist, if there is any justice in the world, because its foundations are murder, theft and cruelty. yet here we are. i'm supposed to answer ming go's call for gradual progress, closing our doors in need. i'm suppose to answer those who think the place is too close to influence of slavery and we should move west. i don't have an answer for you. i don't know what we should do. the word we. in some ways only thing we have in common is the color of your skin. our ancestors came from all over the african continent. it's quite large. brother valentine has the maps
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of the world in his splendid library. you can look for yourself. they have different ways of subsistence, different customs, spoke a hundred different languages and that great mixture was brought to america in the holds of slave ships, to the north, to the south. their sons and daughters picked tobacco, cult straighted cotton and worked the smallest states and largest farms. we have preachers and peddlers. black hands built the white house, the seat of our nation's government. the word, we, we are not one people you but many different people. how can one person speak for this great, beautiful, race which is not one race but many, with a million desires and homes and wishes for ourselves and our children? for we are africans in america, something new in the history of this world, without models, for what we will become.
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color must suffice. it has brought us here this night to this discussion and it will take us to the future. all that we know we rise and fall as one. one colored family living next door to one white family. we may not know the way through the forest, but we can pick each other up when we fall and we will arrive together. when the former residents of valentine farm recalled that moment, when they told strangers and grandchildren how they used to live and how it came to an end, their voices still tremendous -- trembled years later n philadelphia and san francisco and cow towns and ranches they eventually made a home, they mourned those hot died that day. the air in the room turned prickly. they told their families, quickened but an unseen power whether they were born free or in chains they inhabited moment as one, the moment when you aim
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for the north star and decide to run. perhaps they were on the verge of some new order, on the verge of collapsing reason to disorder, of putting on the lessons of their history to bear on the future. or perhaps time as it will, lent the occasion of gravity that it did not possess, and everything was as lander insisted. they were diluted -- deluded, that didn't mean it wasn't true. thank you. [applause] >> wow. that's intense. and you know, i have a read the book a couple of times now, and you know, it's a book i think that will continue to like resonate and change in people's minds the more they dip into it. and the more the political
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context changes. so i want to congratulate you for winning the national book award. [applause] >> thank you. colson, that must have been amazing night for you standing on the stage with john lewis? >> yeah, inspiring, awesome. pretty scared the whole night. i wasn't really eating or drinking that much. >> i heard you got really drunk. >> later. four months since the book came out, it was announced as an oprah book. the reviews have been so great. word-of-mouth really kicked in. really given life throughout the fall and so, really just, you know the end of a really nice run. i would say it is like the most pleasant four months of my life, you know, looking back fondly upon it already.
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>> yeah, a little no, nostalgiau will be stopping the tour now and getting some rest. so that's good. >> sure. >> i want to ask you a little bit about process. so this book is so many different things. you know, it has got a speculative element. it's historical. it, the speculative part of it i guess the thing that really fascinates me and gives its real boldness. so, for example, valentine farm, what inspired you, how did you create that and what in history resembled that, if there was something? >> sure. i mean, like i said before the structural model is akin to gulliver's travels. every 60 pages the book is rebooted as cora goes to a different state with its own laws and customs and south carolina is white separatist state. north carolina, white supremacist state.
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14 years ago i wrote down, will one state be a black utopia state, question mark? there were black towns, similar, and communities similar to this one. without, going through spoilerrish, i was drawing upon black communities in the 19th century. and, you know, not a historical novel. i mix and match and move things around. that allowed me not to make the book just about slavery or underground railroad but about american history and race and different ideas you how race has changed over time. so, well the first section is realistic and sticks to the historical record, once she escapes, cora north, i start moving things around. my motto was that, i won't stick to the facts but i stick to the truth. moving things around, playing with history, allowed to get to
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the larger american truth. i might get kicked out out of te historical novelist club. >> i always knew there was a club. as a books editor, i get galleys way far in advance. it is sometimes difficult to wade through everything. your novel you jumped out at me quickly. it was something about the first line, you're thinking, the first line immediately puts you into the the mind of cora. the mind of someone who can't imagine is there life off of a plantation. and yet she has you enough determination, spirit, whatever it is, to pursue it. and, can you tell us a little
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bit how cora evolved? i was thinking first you thought the protagonist was a man? >> sure. over the years the man was protagonist escaping slavery, finding a wife sold off and father looking for a child. i hadn't done a mother-daughter relationship before. i had seen a good challenge. i had a string of male protagonists. mix is up, colson and get out of your comfort zone. one of the things i had read, harriet jacobs who ran away from her master and hid in an attic for seven years until she got passage out of north carolina. that stayed with me, the decades since college. she writes in the early part of her memoir narrative, how once she becomes a woman, hits puberty, enters a most horrible
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stage of a slave girl's wife. she is now prey to her master's desires. she is supposed to pump out babies, more babies, more slaves, more cotton, more money. just the plight of the female slave is different than that of a man, it seemed worthy of exploration. so, for all those reasons, it made sense. and then, in terms of the structure of the book. you think hiding in an attic. you think of anne frank in an attic. one of the ways i opened up the discussion about oppression, making links between white supremacy in 1850 america and nazi germany in 1930s and '40s. after all of us reading the same horrible white supremacist tracks and coming up with same bad thoughts and ideas. how could i come up with not just about slavery but all kinds of oppression. definitely in the summer thinking about the book it
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carries over to mexico, and how certain political candidates talk about mexicans or muslims. not to the fact that they get to a larger discussion about oppression in america. cora, two moments early on define her for me. the one where she stands up to a lull by and the second one the section i read, human part of her supersedes the slave part of her. there are millions of slaves. not everyone ran. most didn't run. what is it in someone, i'm not sure if i have it or any of us in this room has it, i will escape, i will buck the system. i believe in a place of refuge. it's a huge leap of faith. it is a tremendous act of courage early on having two moments where she sets herself apart, kind of disasterously from the other slaves were important as a writer to sort of
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figure her out. >> i love the line also that you cited that you read from, where she talks about, you talk about how cora, the slave part of her and the human part of her reconciled, met up. can you elaborate on that idea a little bit? >> if you relate to cora, because she is recognizable person who overlaps with you. i think that is what makes successful characters. you can see yourself in them, no matter who they are, no matter who you are. so, how are we, in our daily lives enslaved? are we enslaved by depression, work,. >> yes, yes. >> family, all the same. i think all of us are somehow in bondage and ability to step up and have the human part of her, the stronger part of us, sometimes step in front of that enslaved shackled part of us, i
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think it is a good moment. so, kind of what's happened. we're struggling to have that better part of ourselves analogy. >> you make that analogy but i don't think any of us in this room can really relate to the legacy of slavery. the legacy of slavery, i guess i'm saying has the country really grappled with slavery, has it really grappled with racism, and what role do you hope if the answer is no, what role do you hope this book will play with helping us to grapple with those? >> i think the answer is no. we've progressed as a country by degrees. i think obama was talking about the election in the new yorker and i said, sometimes you go forward and sometimes you go backward. sometimes we zig and zag.
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and that is true of human nature. we're all sorts of stumbling forward. so, you know, my grandparents would never imagine that their grandchild would be here a book fair with a book endorsed by a black president. my parents are doubly surprised, last week, i'm on c-span right now. so so -- >> it is like speculative fiction. >> it is fantastic if you step back and you know. so we have not grappled with slavery or race in any kind of real way or sexism in any kind of real way. we do have a long way to go, and it is quite unfortunate. >> so, yeah, i think that the, i was thinking about john lewis again and, at the national book awards for all of you who didn't
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follow what was said at the national book awards, john lewis talked about, he written his trilogy of his books, march. he won the national book award. he got on the stage and said he went to the library when he was growing up, he was not allowed to have a library card because it was whites only yet he was encouraged to read. and that moment was so profound to me. so can you just talk a little bit about, what that night was like? you know, what the feeling was like and, what role do you think art and literature can play in changing our country? >> sure. before you asked what the, what do i hope my book can do? i don't know. i think i, i write for myself. to figure out something about myself in a book and sometimes i'm trying to figure out the world and if i do it right, people come along for the ride.
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if i pick the write sentences and paragraphs and structures and characters, people can come along with the journey with me, but i can never tell if people are going to get out of my books. i think, i was going to take a few months off before i started work again. this afternoon i had time to kill and downloading research for the next book. i can't take a break. maybe i want to do something? >> what was it? >> yeah. i can't, i'm not going to say. >> on -- come on, we won't tell anyone snoop it takes place in the '60s. i'm very pessimistic, i think. we're all sort of called to active citizens in different ways, and for me it's making books, for the other people maybe donating money and other people it is other kinds of activism. so i think we're all sort of you called to serve in our own different way.
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if you're an artist and you have facility for speaking and creating art in a certain way, that is your way of contributing. >> i have talked to you about this before and i know this was a book you didn't really feel prepared to write earlier in your life and that, for example, having children made it feel like a kind of responsibility to comment on the legacy of slavery and so on. would that be a fair assessment? and, if it is, is it going to be difficult next time to write something that is more frivolous say, you know? because this book for me, and how many of you have read the book yet? yeah, for me, talk about a wake-up call this book is a wake-up call. even if you think you're a good student of american history. if you think you're well-read, feeling what cora feels is just
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an incredible aquakeening. so my question is, would it be difficult to move to something that is just for entertainment value? >> i think we're supposed to write the book we're supposed to write at different times. i wasn't ready to write this book 16 years ago. it was in the back of my head. i knew it, i did it, and there was synchronicity last year between who i was and the subject matter. i have a lot of different aspects of myself. some of my books have a lot of jokes, some have none. some are novels, some are non-fiction and and some address optimistic parts of my personality and some address the darker parts of my personality. a lot of us have two aspects to the personalities. there is a place for escapist entertainment. there is a place for being
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serious. and. i think i write both kinds of books as i go through. i think there is a place for a thriller. there is a place for a novel that addresses history. a novel about someone coming of age and family. and so this is my 8th book. i'm not sure how many more i have left. i think of, you know, poor phillip roth -- >> 40 books. >> he wrote 100? >> seems like so depressing. like just write books for 30 years. >> only 32 more to go. >> we will be in a place where, i hope, in the next couple years where it will be more obvious or a thriller or detective novel or a heist will make sense for me. >> i find myself emersing myself in books even more right now if
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that is possible. just one last question before we turn to questions from the audience and that is, just tell as you little bit about your, where do you write? i mean do you write, do you have a writing room? do you leave the house? and do you feel like you have to dedicate a certain time of day, certain number of hours to writing? >> i work at home. i don't like to leave the house because there are people you out there and if i stay in the house i don't have to see people. i have a little office with tv and couch in there so i can take a weeping nap if i have to. make a sandwich. and you know, 10:00 to 3:00 is like a good day for me, good day's work. if i get one to three pages i'm really glad. because i'm usually writing novels, i like to keep the momentum going. if i can do eight page as week that seems like really good pace. monday and tuesday. then wednesday i have like a dentist appointment. i can't work i have to go to the dentist.
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i will catch up on sunday. as long as i'm doing seven to nine, eight page as week, it makes sense. i feel like i'm accomplishing something. even a paragraph is little closer to the end. i'm measuring my life. am i closer to the end of this horrible thing am i? definitely novels fall into that category. >> sound is like a painful process in other words? >> with a few moments of joy. like this one. like this week so. >> i wanted to congratulate you of being "o"'s 10 favorite of the year. >> thank you. >> thank you. [applause] >> time for questions, folks. line up. >> there are microphones there if you have any questions or tips. >> all right. we're moving towards the mic. >> first, thank you very much
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for this wonderful book. it was riveting and, really important, particularly now. i was wondering why you decided to use the mechanism of magical realism after that first chapter which is so, seems so real, you know, realistically real? so what lay behind that? why didn't you just continue something that was a story that was realistic? >> right. i mean, my conception originally is a book where, she is going through different parallel countries. so i'm not a historical novelist and, maybe one day i will write a historical novel but something that has not occurred to me and i couldn't talk about, i couldn't bring in nazi germany, and tuskegee experiment and, late 19th century lynching


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