In "Yonder," novelist Jabari Asim imagines love amidst enslavement
Tom's guest for the hour today is Jabari Asim, one of the country’s most imaginative and versatile writers, whose body of work encompasses fiction and non-fiction, poetry, plays and children’s literature. He’s a former editor of The Crisis , the journal of the NAACP, and the Washington Post, where he wrote a syndicated column. He is the author of acclaimed non-fiction books, including The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn’t and Why and We Can’t Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies, and the Art of Survival. He is the author of the novel, Only the Strong and a collection of short stories called A Taste of Honey. Professor Asim directs the MFA program at Emerson College in Boston, where he is also the Elma Lewis Distinguished Fellow in Social Justice.
Jabari Asim’s latest book is a historical novel set in 1852 in the American South. It chronicles the lives and loves, the longing for liberation, and the heartbreak and violence visited upon a community of enslaved people. This book is a profound masterpiece, peopled with a fascinating cast of characters who never lose touch with their dreams, in spite of unthinkable trauma. And one of the things that makes them so compelling is the fact that they never let the trauma of enslavement define them.
The novel is called Yonder.
Jabari Asim joins us on Zoom from Boston.