Welcome to the second installment of a collaboration between the Chicago Review of Books and the Your Favorite Book podcast. Malavika Praseed, frequent CHIRB contributor and podcast host, seeks to talk to readers and writers about the books that light a fire inside them. What’s your favorite book and why?
Today we’re joined by Nancy Johnson, author of the debut novel The Kindest Lie. This novel centers Ruth Tuttle, an Ivy league-educated Black engineer, who returns to small town Indiana in search of the baby she left behind, and to uncover the secrets surrounding this painful choice. Set in the early days of the Obama administration, The Kindest Lie explores division and the effects of the 2008 recession in a quote unquote post-racial society. The novel is warm, insightful, and explores very real characters with a great deal of nuance.
Nancy speaks to her experiences growing up, never quite finding literature that reflected her reality. This brought her to Toni Morrison as an adult, specifically Morrison’s debut novel The Bluest Eye. This classic features Pecola Breedlove, a young Black girl that observes the poor way she’s treated in a world that prizes beauty and whiteness, and the resulting feelings become a yearning for blue eyes. With exquisite prose, a fascinating framing device, and multidimensional characters, Morrison’s debut established her as one of America’s preeminent writers. In this episode Johnson shares her wisdom on many other topics, such as sharing a birthday with your literary idol, a complicated experience of the 2008 election, how white writers should approach writing characters of color, and so much more.
Listen to this episode of Your Favorite Book at the link below, and stay tuned for more episodes with other writers in the weeks to come. If you enjoy this episode, check out other episodes of Your Favorite Book on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or other major podcast platforms.
Malavika Praseed is a writer, book reviewer, and genetic counselor. Her fiction has been published in Plain China, Cuckoo Quarterly, Re:Visions, and others. Her podcast, YOUR FAVORITE BOOK, is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and various other platforms