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2020 Shortlist

An American Marriage

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ABOUT
THE BOOK

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her centre. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

Dramatised reading of An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, performed by Kwaku Fortune. Produced by Bazar Productions.

In this special podcast series, Caelainn Hogan and Jessica Traynor explore An American Marriage, and speak to author Tayari Jones.

 

Comments from the Judging Panel

“Ours was a love story, the kind that’s not supposed to happen to black girls anymore”, says the character of Celestial at one point, in this novel about an African-American couple – Celestial and Roy – whose lives unravel when Roy is jailed for a crime he did not commit.   Told alternately through the voices of Roy, Celestial, and Roy’s best friend, Andre, on whom Celestial increasingly relies, this is not just a novel of black lives in America today, it is a novel of three people who are parts of one another’s lives even as they move in three different directions.

 

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Tayari
Jones

Tayari Jones has written for McSweeney’s, the New York Times, and the Believer. Her previous novels are Leaving Atlanta and The Untelling, winner of the Lillian C. Smith Award. Jones holds degrees from Spelman College, Arizona State University, and the University of Iowa. She serves on the MFA faculty at Rutgers-Newark and blogs on writing at www.tayarijones.com

Tayari Jones has written for McSweeney’s, the New York Times, and the Believer. Her previous novels are Leaving Atlanta and The Untelling, winner of the Lillian C. Smith Award. Jones holds degrees from Spelman College, Arizona State University, and the University of Iowa. She serves on the MFA faculty at Rutgers-Newark and blogs on writing at www.tayarijones.com

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NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS

This novel is a realistic and honest study of individuals and a relationship. It takes a dramatic event as an impetus for the plot but its strength lies in its characters. A book read straight through that you don’t want to end.

Limerick City and County Libraries

This was the most popular title from 2018 in our library system over the last year.

Iowa City Public Library, USA

An American Marriage is a moving story of newlyweds struggling with adversity and the consequences of injustice not only for them but for their extended family. Jones grapples with difficult social and racial issues through expressive fiction.

San José Public Library, USA

A profound exploration of marriage, fidelity, crime and punishment. The author delivers a searing account of a relationship unravelling as a result of a wrongful conviction and subsequent incarceration.

Ferguson Library, USA

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Country
United States
Original Language
English
Author
Publisher
Algonquin Books

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