Bessie Smith and 'Hell of a Book'

book covers
Courtesy of the publishers

As a Black girl adopted by Scottish communists, growing up in Glasgow in the 1970s, poet Jackie Kay developed a passion for Bessie Smith. Her father introduced her to the blues, and Bessie Smith was the wild spirit who helped her find her true self. She tells the story in her new book, “Bessie Smith, A Poet’s Biography of a Blues Legend.”

Writer Jason Mott grew up Black in the American south. When he went on book tour for “The Returned,” it was so odd and hilarious that he wrote about it for his next novel. But when the news filled up with the chaos and violence of Black men being killed by the police, he changed that story. His new book, “Hell of a Book,” is part comedy, part tragedy, all truth about America.

Both authors joined guest host Euan Kerr to talk about their new work, reading, writing and keeping on.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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