A few weeks ago after reading how Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns didn’t win the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction, Doret (The Happy Nappy Bookseller) and I decided that it was time to host a read-along for this sweeping work of non-fiction.
The publisher’s description:
In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.
With stunning historical detail, Wilkerson tells this story through the lives of three unique individuals: Ida Mae Gladney, who in 1937 left sharecropping and prejudice in Mississippi for Chicago, where she achieved quiet blue-collar success and, in old age, voted for Barack Obama when he ran for an Illinois Senate seat; sharp and quick-tempered George Starling, who in 1945 fled Florida for Harlem, where he endangered his job fighting for civil rights, saw his family fall, and finally found peace in God; and Robert Foster, who left Louisiana in 1953 to pursue a medical career, the personal physician to Ray Charles as part of a glitteringly successful medical career, which allowed him to purchase a grand home where he often threw exuberant parties.
Wilkerson brilliantly captures their first treacherous and exhausting cross-country trips by car and train and their new lives in colonies that grew into ghettos, as well as how they changed these cities with southern food, faith, and culture and improved them with discipline, drive, and hard work. Both a riveting microcosm and a major assessment, The Warmth of Other Suns is a bold, remarkable, and riveting work, a superb account of an “unrecognized immigration” within our own land.
The book has also been named New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year, won the Indie Lit Awards non-fiction award, and the National Book Critics Award for non-fiction.
Since The Warmth of Other Suns is more than 600 pages long, we decided that we’ll host the read-along in the summer. The book is huge but unlike most non-fiction it reads like a novel.
- The read-along starts Wednesday, June 1st
- Halfway-mark post on Wednesday, June 15th
- Wrap-up on Thursday, June 30th
So what do you think? Would you like to join us for this summer read-along? If you’re in, let me know in the comments below.