Saying Their Names: Jesmyn Ward’s Mississippi Memoir

Jesmyn Ward’s memoir, Men We Reaped, derives its title from an arresting Harriet Tubman quote that appears in the book as an epigraph: It’s an interesting frame for the story of a young African-American woman’s life, especially one who has been as successful as Ward. With Salvage the Bones and Sing, Unburied, Sing, Ward has […]

An Old Man Remembers Love, (and You’ll Want to Read It)

I made the mistake of introducing myself to Philip Roth by reading one his later work. Indignation, a 2008 novel, drew on some of Roth’s familiar themes—Jewish identity, American identity, relationships—but it had none of the spark I was hoping for. It felt like an older man’s attempt to imagine himself back into first love. […]

#9 – Out of Darkness, Shining Light: Heartlands Best Reads of 2019

As we continue the countdown of best reads of 2019, we come to Out of Darkness, Shining Light by the Zimbabwean author Petina Gappah. It’s a vivid imagining of the company that escorted the body of Dr. David Livingstone, the famed explorer and missionary, back to the coast following his death in central Africa. Gappah’s novel […]

Love And Fire Children: Kevin Wilson’s Nothing to See Here

I don’t know why it’s the late spring of 1995 when Nothing to See Here begins. Perhaps it’s because it’s a time blessedly free of cell phones and texting and the narrative complications they introduce. Maybe it’s because politics had a few more norms such that a main character who is a senator could imagine […]