Let’s be honest. We writers dream that the books that live inside us will find their way into bookstores, libraries, and homes, will come to life in the hands of avid readers under shady hammocks or in favorite chairs. These books will have splendid covers and rave reviews that honor the love we put into the process. But for many aspiring writers, the journey between finishing a manuscript and launching a book is veiled in mystery. The cogs and wheels of publishing are strangely opaque to the authors themselves. This Porch Happy Hour Series will both illuminate the process, and more importantly celebrate authors who have recently “birthed” their books.
In October, we welcome Janaka Bowman Lewis, author of Light and Legacies: Stories of Black Girlhood and Liberation (University of South Carolina Press), in conversation with Tonya Abari!
In Light and Legacies, author Janaka Bowman Lewis examines Black girlhood in American literature from the mid-twentieth century to the present. The representation of Black girlhood in contemporary literature has long remained underexplored. Through this literary history of "Black Girl Magic," Lewis offers one of the first studies in this rapidly growing field of study. Light and Legacies poignantly showcases the activist dimensions of creative literature through work by women writers such as Toni Morrison and Toni Cade. As vectors of protest, these stories reflect historical events while also creating an enduring space of liberation and expression. The book provides didactic and reflective portrayals of the Black experience—an experience that has long been misunderstood. In a work both enlightening and personal, Lewis brilliantly weaves accounts of her own journey together with the liberating stories that shaped her and so many others.
Janaka Bowman Lewis is associate professor of English and director of the Center for the Study of the New South at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is author of Freedom Narratives of African American Women and three children's books [Brown All Over, Bold Nia Marie Passes the Test, and coauthor of Dr. King Is Tired, Too!! (A Family's Walk)]. She is founder of the Vanilla Bowman Foundation for Educational Impact based in Georgia and the Carolinas to provide collaborative educational support for families with a focus on women and youth.
Tonya Abari is a multigenre storyteller, author, freelance editor, and book reviewer for children and adults. Her words and reviews can be found in Publishers Weekly, USA Today, Good Housekeeping, ZORA, and many more! One of "sixteen, creative, rising voices," Abari is a 2021 We Need Diverse Books Picture Book Mentee. She has forthcoming multigenre children’s book projects with Innovation Press, NatGeo Kids, Mudpuppy Books, and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. You can find her on Twitter at @TAbaris_World and on Instagram at @iamtabari.