Talking Volumes: Talking Race 2021 season guide

Talking Volumes: Talking Race is hosted by award-winning MPR News journalists Kerri Miller and Brandt Williams.
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Minnesota Public Radio and the Star Tribune are proud to announce a special Talking Volumes series of virtual events centered around the topic of race in America. 

From the killing of Black people at the hands of police to COVID-19 to economic downturn, the most difficult issues we currently face are disproportionately affecting Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color. We are bringing together a diverse group of authors to talk about their books, which all provide unique insights on America’s growing racial divide.

Talking Volumes: Talking Race will be hosted by award-winning MPR News journalists Kerri Miller and Brandt Williams. All events will be held via webinar and will include an hour-long interview with the authors and a live interactive panel discussion moderated by the Star Tribune. 

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Watch a recording of the event here.

March 9: ‘Felon’ by Reginald Dwayne Betts

From the publisher:

“Felon” tells the story of one man in fierce, dazzling poems ― canvassing his wide range of emotions and experiences through homelessness, underemployment, love, drug abuse, domestic violence, fatherhood, and grace ― and, in doing so, creates a travelogue for an imagined life. Reginald Dwayne Betts confronts the funk of post-incarceration existence and examines prison not as a static space, but as a force that enacts pressure throughout a person’s life. Challenging the complexities of language, Betts animates what it means to be a “felon.” 

About the author: 

Reginald Dwayne Betts is a poet and lawyer. He is the Director of the Million Book Project, an initiative out of the Yale Law School’s Justice Collaboratory to radically transform the access to literature in prisons. For more than 20 years, he has used his poetry and essays to explore the world of prison and the effects of violence and incarceration on American society. In 2019, Betts won the National Magazine Award in the Essays and Criticism category for his New York Times Magazine essay that chronicles his journey from prison to becoming a licensed attorney. He is a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow and a 2018 Emerson Fellow at New America and holds a J.D. from Yale Law School. 

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Watch a recording of the event here.

March 16: ‘Earth Keeper: Reflections on the American Land’ by N. Scott Momaday

From the publisher:  

In “Earth Keeper: Reflections on the American Land,” N. Scott Momaday reflects on his native ground and its influence on his people. “When I think about my life and the lives of my ancestors, I am inevitably led to the conviction that I, and they, belong to the American land. This is a declaration of belonging. And it is an offering to the earth.” he writes. 

In this moving and lyrical book, which includes original artwork by the author, Momaday offers an homage and a warning. He reminds us that the Earth is a sacred place of wonder and beauty; a source of strength and healing that must be protected before it’s too late. As he so eloquently yet simply expresses, we must all be keepers of the Earth. 

About the author: 

One of the most distinguished voices in American letters, N. Scott Momaday has devoted much of his life to celebrating and preserving Native American culture, especially its oral tradition. A member of the Kiowa tribe who was born and grew up on Indian reservations throughout the Southwest, Momaday has an intimate connection to the land he knows well and loves deeply. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the Pulitzer Prize for his novel, House Made of Dawn a National Medal of Arts, the Academy of American Poets Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Lifetime Achievement, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award.  

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Watch a recording of the event here.

March 23: ‘My Year Abroad’ by Chang-rae Lee

From the publisher: 

Rich with commentary on Western attitudes, Eastern stereotypes, capitalism, global trade, mental health, parenthood, mentorship, and more, “My Year Abroad” is also an exploration of the surprising effects of cultural immersion — on a young American in Asia, on a Chinese man in America, and on an unlikely couple hiding out in the suburbs. Tinged at once with humor and darkness, electric with its accumulating surprises and suspense, “My Year Abroad” is a novel that only Chang-rae Lee could have written, and one that will be read and discussed for years to come. 

About the author: 

Chang-rae Lee is the author of “Native Speaker”, winner of the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for first fiction, as well as “On Such a Full Sea,” ”A Gesture Life,”  “Aloft” and “The Surrendered,” winner of the Dayton Peace Prize and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Chang-rae Lee teaches writing at Stanford University. 

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Watch a recording of the event here.

March 30: ‘What’s Mine and Yours’ by Naima Coster

From the publisher: 

“What’s Mine and Yours” is an expansive, vibrant novel that moves between the years, from the foothills of North Carolina to Atlanta, Los Angeles and Paris. It explores the unique organism that is every family: what breaks them apart and how they come back together. A North Carolina community rises in outrage as a county initiative draws students from the largely Black east side of town into predominantly white high schools on the west. For two students, Gee and Noelle, the integration sets off a chain of events that will bond their families together in unexpected ways over the span of the next twenty years. And their mothers — each determined to see her child inherit a better life — will make choices that will haunt them for decades to come. 

About the author: 

Naima Coster is the author of “Halsey Street,” and a finalist for the 2018 Kirkus Prize for fiction. In 2020, Naima was selected by Tayari Jones for the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honor. Naima’s stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times, Kweli, the Paris Review Daily, Catapult, The Rumpus and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, as well as degrees from Fordham University and Yale. She has taught writing for over a decade, in community settings, youth programs and universities. She lives in Brooklyn with her family. 

Get your tickets at mprevents.org. Please consider supporting a local bookstore when you purchase these titles. 

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