“WEB Du Bois Love Songs: A Novel”


Our guest is poet and novelist Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, who teaches creative writing and literature at the OU. She joins us in talking about her new book, “The Love Songs of WEB Du Bois”, which is a much loved debut novel. As noted about this work in a star-rated review in Publishers Weekly: “A staggering and ambitious saga exploring African American history. Ailey Pearl Garfield, the youngest daughter of Geoff Garfield, a light-skinned doctor from Washington, DC, and Belle Driskell Garfield, a teacher at a Southern school, reckons with ancestral trauma growing up in the 1980s and 1990s Throughout, historical sketches (or “songs”) connect Ailey to her ancestors: Streams, enslaved Africans and the original Scottish slave owners. in the footsteps of his parents, attending the southern HBCU where they met and married as undergraduates before moving north to the “City,” where Geoff attended medical school from the University of Mecca (a barely veiled Howard). WEB Du Bois’s theories emerge in epigraphs throughout and are sagaciously reflected in the plot, as the accounts of Ailey’s college life fit the “talented tenth.” . The tragedy later unfolds as Lydia, Ailey’s older sister who is haunted by sexual abuse as a child, succumbs to crack addiction. The multigenerational story explodes when Ailey discovers an unknown family background during her graduate studies, as well as the secrets of the black woman who founded her family’s alma mater. Themes of family, class, higher education, feminism, and colourism generate many rich layers. Readers will be amazed. “

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