Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

Teaching and Unteaching—and Entertaining All the Way

For more than three decades, Patricia McKissack has been writing children’s books that bring to life the stories, and the truth, of her ancestors

As she was coming of age in Nashville in the 1950s, there were many places award-winning children’s author Patricia McKissack was not allowed to go. She remembers hotels and restaurants that forbade African Americans entry, and movie theaters with a separate doorway in the alley for black patrons. The farthest reaches of the Grand Ole Opry’s balcony, known as the buzzard’s roost, was the only seating open to African Americans, McKissack recalls. She never partook: “My grandfather said that watermelons would bloom in January if any of his children went down there. ‘We don’t sit in no buzzard’s roost,’ he said. ‘We’re human beings, not buzzards.'”

Read more

Rugged Country

Min Jin Lee discusses identity, diaspora, and resistance in her novel Pachinko

Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, a finalist for the National Book Award, follows a Korean family through four generations of migration, hardship, and survival, telling their interlocking stories in vivid detail. 

Read more

The Crooked Road to a Musical Legacy

Terry Klefstad chronicles the life and legacy of musician Bill Pursell

Crooked River City, Terry Wait Klefstad’s biography of musician and composer Bill Pursell, considers his influence on the Nashville Sound.

Read more

High Water

The Gone Dead is a blues novel that’s out to summon ghosts

In Chanelle Benz’s debut novel The Gone Dead, a woman arrives in the Mississippi Delta to claim her inheritance — and stays to solve the mystery of her father’s death. Benz will discuss The Gone Dead at Novel in Memphis on June 25

Read more

Ripe for Excitement

A naïve young woman is captivated by 1940s New York in Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls

With City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert delivers a perfect by-the-pool book, full of spectacle, glitz, and bygone glamour. Gilbert will appear at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville on June 17.

Read more

My One and Only Now and Forever

In Mary Miller’s Biloxi, a border collie leads a man in crisis out of ennui to enlightenment

With Biloxi, Mary Miller delivers a whimsical Southern tragicomedy that evokes both Eudora Welty and Joy Williams. Miller will appear at Novel in Memphis on May 29

Read more