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New Episode of Your Favorite Book with Morgan Jerkins

New Episode of Your Favorite Book with Morgan Jerkins

Welcome to another 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?

This week’s guest is Morgan Jerkins, author of Caul Baby. This novel combines folklore and Black womanhood with gentrification and healthcare disparity, creating an unforgettable work of magical realism.The book follows the Melancon family, born with a layer of skin (the caul) that protects them from harm and imparts good fortune on those that carry it. The Melancons choose to sell pieces of their caul to ensure their safety and social standing, and for years this occurs without issue. Until the day they refuse sale to a pregnant Black woman and she loses her pregnancy. This sets into motion a series of events, including the adoption of a caul-bearing girl, that shakes the Melancon family and the Harlem community to its core.

In this pandemic, with our society questioning the nature and importance of employment, Morgan’s mind went to Temporary by Hilary Leichter as an all-time favorite book. This short, idiosyncratic novel follows an unnamed narrator that exists as a temporary worker. She fills in for roles that need filling, everything from a barnacle on a rock to Chairman of the Board. Jobs, relationships, friendships, these are as fleeting as a few hours of PTO. The goal is steadiness, but as the novel progresses, we wonder if steadiness is a reality or just a means to an end.

Morgan shares her thoughts on moving from nonfiction to fiction, the status of gentrification in Harlem, millennial work culture, and so much more. And as always, the episode is spoiler-free.

See Also

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.

Sula by Toni Morrison (with Saeed Jones, Author of Alive at the End of the World) Your Favorite Book

Our guest this week is Saeed Jones, the acclaimed memoirist and poet, whose recent collection ALIVE AT THE END OF THE WORLD takes on both individual and collective grief in the midst of a nation in crisis. Spanning topics from the legacy of Black artists and entertainers to visions of the end of the world as a chaotic rave, Saeed brings every feeling to the forefront and never turns his back to the hard questions. Saeed chose a book stemming from his adolescence and one that continues to generate deeper meaning for him, Toni Morrison's SULA. This book, hardly two hundred pages in length, delves deep into what it means to be a Black girl, and to be both in and out of a community, and the complicated social dynamics it takes to perpetuate said community. The book is luminous at a prose level and never ceases to shock at every turn. There are some spoilers for this episode, but none that take away from the integrity of the novel. Together we chat about all things crafting a poetry collection, why the United States struggles with creating a grief culture, the triumphs and pitfalls of high school literary opinions, and so much more. Books discussed: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Milk Blood Heat by Dantiel Moniz, Magical Negro by Morgan Parker Buy Saeed's book: https://bookshop.org/books/alive-at-the-end-of-the-world/9781566896511 Follow the show on instagram and twitter @yfbpodcast
  1. Sula by Toni Morrison (with Saeed Jones, Author of Alive at the End of the World)
  2. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward (with Joe Meno, Author of Book of Extraordinary Tragedies)
  3. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger (with Adam Levin, Author of Mount Chicago)
  4. The Song of Everlasting Sorrow by Wang Anyi (with Belinda Huijuan Tang, Author of A Map for the Missing)
  5. A Death in the Family by James Agee (with Jean Thompson, Author of The Poet's House)
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