In the Country of Women: A Memoir by Susan Straight (Pre-Order)
On Sale August 6, 2019 | ISBN 9781948226226
“To understand my daughters and their sisterhood, you have to know the women, and sisters, who came before.” In the Country of Women is a valuable social history and a personal narrative that reads like a love song to America and the nation's indomitable women, written by National Book Award finalist and Guggenheim Fellow Susan Straight.
In inland Southern California, near the desert and the Mexican border, Susan Straight, a white 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 weekly driveway barbecues and fish fries with the large, close-knit Sims family, Straight—and eventually her three daughters—learned the stories of Dwayne’s 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 gumption of women pushing onward—from Switzerland, Wisconsin, Canada, and the Colorado Rockies to California.
Straight and Sims divorced after their third daughter was born, but he lives nearby and the family has remained close. She continues to see him and his relatives in one driveway or another, giving many parties herself, the largest of which host 150. A Pakistani word, biraderi, is one she uses to define a complex system of kinship and clan—those who become your family. 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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
SUSAN STRAIGHT has published eight novels, including Highwire Moon, Between Heaven and Here, and A Million Nightingales. She has been a Finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the National Magazine Award. She is the recipient of the Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Edgar Award for Best Mystery Story, the O. Henry Prize, The Lannan Prize 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. Her work has been translated into Spanish, German, French, Arabic, Turkish, Japanese, Romanian, Swedish, and Russian. She was born in Riverside, California, where she lives with her family.