On Gloria Naylor’s Refusal to Look Away from the Pain of a Mother’s Grief
Tyrese L. Coleman Guests on the Lit Century Podcast
with Sandra Newman and Catherine Nichols
Welcome to Lit Century: 100 Years, 100 Books. Combining literary analysis with an in-depth look at historical context, hosts Sandra Newman and Catherine Nichols choose one book for each year of the 20th century, and—along with special guests—will take a deep dive into a hundred years of literature.
In this episode, author Tyrese L. Coleman joins hosts Catherine Nichols and Sandra Newman again to continue their discussion of Gloria Naylor’s book of linked short stories, The Women of Brewster Place (1982), a classic of Black women’s literature.
From the episode:
Tyrese Coleman: Isn’t that representative of that level of grief, of that motherly grief that’s like, ancient? It’s so ancient that it just goes beyond the depths of soil. I respect the fact that she just kept on going and going and going, because there really is no end to it. There will never be an end to a mother’s grief—my grief or any mother’s grief.
Sandra Newman: Yeah. And it’s the opposite solution to that Hemingway solution where you just have the person walk away without saying anything. With a manly face. It’s like two different strategies. How do you represent that degree of pain? How do you represent the most extreme pain that you can imagine? And here, she’s really engaging with it and trying to represent it and trying to talk about it.
Tyrese L. Coleman is the author of How to Sit, a 2019 Pen Open Book Award finalist published with Mason Jar Press in 2018. She’s also the writer of the forthcoming book, Spectacle. Writer, wife, mother, attorney, and writing instructor, she is a contributing editor at Split Lip Magazine and occasionally teaches at American University. Her essays and stories have appeared in several publications, including Black Warrior Review, Literary Hub, The Rumpus, and the Kenyon Review and noted in Best American Essays and the Pushcart Anthology. She is an alumni of the Writing Program at Johns Hopkins University. Find her at tyresecoleman.com or on Twitter @tylachelleco.
Sandra Newman is the author of the novels The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done, shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, Cake, and The Country of Ice Cream Star, longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post and NPR. She is the author of the memoir Changeling as well as several other nonfiction books. Her work has appeared in Harper’s and Granta, among other publications. She lives in New York City.
Catherine Nichols is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Jezebel and The Seattle Review, among others. She lives in Boston.