New York Times bestselling author Ayana Mathis will headline the Bookfest Literary Festival at the Glen Ellyn Public Library’s on September 28, according to a news release from the library.
Mathis, a graduate from the University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop, recently published her debut novel to much critical acclaim. In The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, Mathis tells the story of the children of the Great Migration through the trials of one unforgettable family.
In 1923, fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd flees Georgia and settles in Philadelphia, hoping for a chance at a better life. Instead, she marries a man who will bring her nothing but disappointment and watches helplessly as her firstborn twins die due to an illness that just a few pennies could have prevented. Hattie gives birth to nine more children whom she raises without an ounce of the tenderness they crave. She vows to prepare them for the difficulty they are sure to face in their later lives, to meet a world that will not love them.
Mathis recently told the New York Times, “I had this idea that to be a good writer you wrote these pretty sentences. The biggest thing I learned at Iowa was being a good writer has everything to do with telling the truth about what it means to be a human being [...]. I set out to write a novel about an in-between generation—from the Great Migration to civil rights—about people suffering from a kind of mother-want and grappling with their own demons and psychology.”
Oprah Winfrey told USA Today she selected The Twelve Tribes of Hattie for her book club because “the opening pages took my breath away. I can’t remember when I read anything that moved me in quite this way [...]. The characters are so real. There were so many other black women like Hattie, who struggled and survived and did the best they could, and made a better life for the people who followed...people like me. And that shouldn’t be forgotten.”
After learning of Winfrey’s endorsement Knopf publishing increased the novel’s first printing from 50,000 to 125,000.
Mathis, who spent more than a decade doing everything from waitressing and working with the homeless before being accepted at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, recently told NBC news she isstill stunned by Oprah’s endorsement, “It’s a stunning life changing event in every sense of the word. The book is reaching a wider readership than it would have otherwise.”
The Glen Ellyn Public Library has ordered a large volume of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie to meet the community’s demand.
Further detail’s about Mathis’s appearance and other Bookfest 2013 events will be released in the coming months.
Information courtesy of a press release from the Glen Ellyn Public Library.