Jabari Asim, STL native and author, joins his son and author G’Ra Asim to discuss the new book Yonder at a virtual event with Left Bank Books
Left Bank Books welcomes writer, multidisciplinary artist and St. Louis native Jabari Asim, who will discuss his highly anticipated new book Yonder. Asim will be in conversation with his son and author G’Ra Asim on Thursday, January 20 at 6 p.m. CT. Join us on our Facebook or YouTube Live page and order a copy of Yonder from Left Bank Books to support authors and independent bookstores!
This event will now be virtual only.
The Water Dancer meets The Prophets in this clean, gripping, and beautifully rendered novel exploring love and friendship among a group of enslaved black wrestlers in the mid-19th century.
They call themselves the robbed. Their owners call them captives. They are taught the language of their captors and their beliefs, but they have their own language and rituals.
In a world that would be allegorical if it weren’t saturated with hard truths, Cato and William meet at Placid Hall, a plantation in an unspecified part of the southern United States. Subject to the whims of their tyrannical and eccentric captor, Cannonball Greene, they never know what harm may befall them: inhuman physical labor in the plantation quarry by day, a beating at night, or the sale of a loved one. at any time. It is this cruel practice – the wanton destruction of love, the belief that black people are not even capable of love – that hurts the most.
Their relationship begins to crumble when a visiting minister with a mysterious past begins to fill their heads with ideas about independence. He tells them that with freedom comes the right to choose the little things – when to have dinner, when to start and finish work – as well as the big things, like who and how to love. Do they follow the preacher and pursue the unknown? Confined in a landscape marked by deception and uncertainty, who can they trust?
In an elegant work of monumental imagination that will reorient how we think about the legacy of America’s shameful past, Jabari Asim presents a beautiful, powerful, and elegiac novel that examines intimacy and desire in neighborhoods while posing a vital question: what if a slave risked everything for love?
“Exceptional. A magnificent addition to the library of American slavery fiction, which – given the centuries it has existed – is not as extensive as it could be. Deftly wielding a number of Literary tools, including a great way with the tongue, Asim reveals the daily world of slaves far from whipping and brutality: the loves, the laughter, the age-old struggles with life. mind of a reader. Asim is to be applauded. –Edward P. Jones, author of The Known World
“Jabari Asim’s masterful Yonder undoubtedly set our ancestors in dance and joy. A compelling and dazzling storyteller, Asim beautifully captures the depth of their bond, intellect and unwavering commitment to one another, honoring the fullness of their humanity in the context of enslavement. This novel made me scream, cry, laugh, and most of all, believe. –Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
About our speakers
Jabari Asim is a multidisciplinary writer and artist. He directs the MFA program in creative writing at Emerson College, where he is also an Elma Lewis Distinguished Fellow in Social Justice. His non-fiction books include The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn’t, and Why; What Obama means: for our culture, our politics, our future; Not Guilty: Twelve black men speak out on law, justice, and life; and We Can’t Breathe: On Black Lives, White Lies and the Art of Survival. Her children’s books include Whose Toes Are These? and Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis. His works of fiction include A Taste of Honey and Only the Strong.
G’Ra Asim, writer and musician, is an assistant professor of non-fiction writing at Ithaca College. He served as Managing Editor at the African American Political Forum and as a graduate fellow in Columbia’s undergraduate writing program. Her work has appeared in Slate, Salon, Guernica, The Baffler and The New Republic. When he’s not writing prose or teaching, he sings, plays bass and writes lyrics for New York punk pop band babygotbacktalk, which has been named one of the “Top 8 Punkest Bands on the Planet Right Now” by AfroPunk.
All you have to do to participate is log into your personal Facebook account, go to the Left Bank Books Facebook Live page and wait for the live stream to start on the page (you may need to refresh the page periodically until the broadcast begins). You can also watch the simulcast on Left Bank’s YouTube channel.