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Novel Pairings

Jan 24, 2023

Chelsey and Sara discuss Langston Hughes’s 1930 novel: Not Without Laughter,  the story of a young boy coming of age in small-town Kansas with his matriarchal family. His mother Annjee works as a maid and cook for a wealthy white family, his grandmother Hager takes in laundry work, and his Aunt Harriet has big dreams of performing. His wandering father, Jimboy makes appearances as does his upper class Aunt Tempy. As a collective, these characters reveal varied philosophies and histories of the Black diasporic experience. 

We expected to enjoy Hughes’ use of language and imagery, but we did not anticipate the rich tapestry of history and themes explored in this  short classic. We hope you take something away from this spoiler-free episode before, during, or after listening, whether you choose to pick up the book or one of our contemporary pairings. These pairings include complex families in fiction, sweeping historical accounts, and blues-y musings on the power of music. 

Are you ready for deeper reading in 2023? This spring we’re exploring the world of Classic Children’s Literature in your podcast feed and with our Patreon community. Together, we’re learning to be better, more critical and thorough readers of classic and contemporary literature. We love discussing books and reading with all of you and hope you’ll join our group of nerdy readers at Annual subscriptions are now available at a discounted price. 

Pairings Timestamp: 29:50




Books Mentioned:

A Little Devil in America by Hanif Abdurraqib

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby

Perish by Latoya Watkins

Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm by Laura Warrell

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong


Links & Things Mentioned:

"Done Made Us Leave Our Home": Langston Hughes's Not without Laughter--Unifying Image and Three Dimensions - R. Baxter Miller (JSTOR)