ANGELA PALM & MICHAEL COPPERMAN
Two excellent narrative non-fiction writers, each with highly-praised debut books, read here this evening. Angela Palm’s Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere But Here received the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize: for good reason. “[Riverine] beautifully examines the myriad ways nature and nurture mingle and mix to make us who were are as adults. . . . Riverine is a different kind of memoir, one that through a kind of sleight of hand transports readers from the narrative into the world of ideas and back again, with readers scarcely noticing the transitions. . . . In Riverine, Ms. Palm lucidly sets out to divine how two fates can bifurcate. The result is that rarest of things: a book that lays bare the lives that are lived and not lived.”—The Wall Street Journal. “Riverine digs deep into the soil of the past—river soil, corn field soil, flooded soil and stubborn soil—to find not only the roots of the future, in all of its mysterious convolutions and divergences, but also the possibility of futures that never came to pass. Angela Palm’s gorgeous candor sings urgently through these pages, her prose a tuning fork offering frequencies I’d never heard before.”—Leslie Jamison. Then there is Michael Copperman, here with Teacher: Two Years in the Mississippi Delta (University Press of Mississippi). “Riveting. Phenomenal. A fearless memoir, achingly alive with beauty, hope and heartbreak, Michael Copperman’s Teacher shines a light on American race, poverty, stereotypes and the parts of ourselves, as a nation, we desperately need to start talking about but prefer to pretend do not exist. Copperman’s humanity is evident on every single page.” —Margaret Malone. “A compelling story about one of the most urgent challenges facing our country today. Michael Copperman weaves personal history and national statistics into a narrative that is at once heartbreaking and crucial. Crippled by the epidemic of educational disparity, this engaging memoir about a young professor’s journey into the Mississippi Delta’s impoverished districts to teach children how to read and write, how to find their voices and break their silence is what we look for in storytelling. A bold and important new book.” —Mario Alberto Zambrano.