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SUSAN STRAIGHT discusses her new memoir IN THE COUNTRY OF WOMEN with PATT MORRISON

In the Country of Women (Catapault)

In inland Southern California, near the desert and the Mexican border, Susan Straight, a self-proclaimed book nerd, and Dwayne Sims, an African American basketball player, started dating in high school. After college, they married and drove to Amherst, Massachusetts, where Straight met her teacher and mentor, James Baldwin, who encouraged her to write. Once back in Riverside, at driveway barbecues and fish fries with the large, close-knit Sims family, Straight—and eventually her three daughters—heard for decades the stories of Dwayne’s female ancestors. Some women escaped violence in post-slavery Tennessee, some escaped murder in Jim Crow Mississippi, and some fled abusive men. Straight’s mother-in-law, Alberta Sims, is the descendant at the heart of this memoir. Susan’s family, too, reflects the hardship and resilience of women pushing onward—from Switzerland, Canada, and the Colorado Rockies to California.

A Pakistani word, biraderi, is one Straight uses to define a complex system of kinship and clan—those who become your family. An entire community helped raise her daughters. Of her three girls, now grown and working in museums and the entertainment industry, Straight writes, “The daughters of our ancestors carry in their blood at least three continents. We are not about borders. We are about love and survival.” In the Country of Women is a valuable social history and a personal narrative that reads like a love song to America and indomitable women.

Praise for In the Country of Women 

In the Country of Women is moving, fierce, and gorgeous. In a time of individualistic fragmentation and the tearing of the social fabric, Straight offers the contrary narrative, the essential need for community, its past and future, and celebrates her place in its weaving.”—Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander

In the Country of Women is a masterpiece and a great read—heartfelt and soul-warming. A full life, cleanly, deeply, and beautifully told.”—Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina

In the Country of Women is the astonishingly beautiful story of a life and family history that could only happen in California, just as California is a place (and an idea—of expansion, light, color, a meeting of bloodlines and cultures) that could only happen in America.”—Attica Locke, author of Bluebird, Bluebird

Susan Straight has published eight novels, including Highwire MoonBetween Heaven and Here, and A Million Nightingales. She has been a fi nalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the National Magazine Award. She is the recipient of the Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement from the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Edgar Award for Best Short Story, the O. Henry Prize, the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her stories and essays have been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Granta, McSweeney’s, Black Clock, Harper’s, and other journals. She is Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside. She was born in Riverside, where she lives with her family.

Author Photo by Felisha Carrasco

Patt Morrison is a Los Angeles Times writer and columnist with a share of two Pulitzer Prizes. She has won six Emmys and a dozen Golden Mike awards for her work hosting public television and radio programs. Her two nonfiction books, Don't Stop the Presses! Truth, Justice and the American Newspaper, and  Rio LA, Tales from the Los Angeles River, are best-sellers. Pink’s, the legendary Hollywood hot dog stand, named its vegetarian hot dog “The Patt Morrison Baja Veggie Dog” in her honor.

Event date: 
Tuesday, August 6, 2019 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
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