Ancestor Hunger Miscellany, Vol. 2

Books by Kaitlyn Greenidge, Honorée Fannone Jeffers, Rebecca Donner, and Lilly Dancyger. Also: James Coan cartoon; Meg Conley; Undone. And my book will be out next March (ish!).

I turned in book revisions a couple weeks ago. The endnotes are still coming together, and I’m sure there will be a little more fine-tuning before the manuscript goes into production, but publication is tentatively scheduled for March 29, 2022.

I can’t wait to share the title with you—it’s not “Ancestor Hunger,” but it’s a close cousin. I’ll wait until it’s official. Meanwhile, it’s the most surreal and wonderful feeling to have other people reading and mulling the book, including an amazing book designer (!). I feel like a vole emerging from seven years of burrowing underground to a surprise party in bright sunlight.

Here’s this month’s ancestor hunger miscellany:

  • The cartoon at the top of this post is by James Coan, Professor of Clinical Psychology at UVA, and the Director of the Virginia Affective Neuroscience Library. He shared it with me on Twitter and I post with his permission.

  • He was tweeting in response to my tweets on Kaitlyn Greenidge’s “The Legacy of Love” essay in Harper’s Bazaar. “When I first discovered my great-grandfather’s letters to my grandmother, I felt a kind of anger toward him, on her behalf,” she writes. “Now I see that there was a kind of love, one so concerned with trying to make this world safe for a cherished daughter.” Greenidge is one of my favorite writers. I have her latest novel, Libertie, on Black freedom and more, here to read as soon as I can.

  • Right now I’m reading fiction from another favorite writer: Honorée Fannone Jeffers’ gorgeous upcoming novel, The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois. It’s a multi-generational story in the most epic sense, truly astounding. Even talking about the narrative voice feels like a spoiler, so I won’t say anything else right now. The book isn’t out until July, but you can read her National Book Award longlisted The Age of Phillis right away, and I hope you will.

  • I’m also excited to read Rebecca Donner’s All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler, which is out in August and pulls together years of research into the life of her great-great aunt, Mildred Harnack (née Fish) who was executed by guillotine in 1943 after Hitler overruled her six-year prison sentence.

  • And I’m looking forward to Lilly Dancyger’s Negative Space, out next week and also in my shortest to-be-read stack. From her website: “Dancyger's father, Joe Schactman, was part of the iconic 1980s East Village art scene. He created provocative sculptures out of found materials, and brought his young daughter into his gritty, iconoclastic world. She idolized him—despite the escalating heroin addiction that sometimes overshadowed his creative passion. When Schactman died suddenly, just as Dancyger was entering adolescence, she went into her own self-destructive spiral, raging against the world that had taken him away. But as an adult, Dancyger began to question the mythology she'd created about her father—the brilliant artist, struck down in his prime—using his paintings, sculptures, and prints as a guide to piece together a truer story.”

  • Meg Conley wrote about growing up in the suburbs of California and finally visiting her ancestors’ bones in Kentucky. She’s recently been grappling on Instagram with the mainstreaming of white nationalism in the LDS church.

  • The second season of the animated series Undone was supposed to be out in February-ish but has been delayed because of the pandemic. I’ve watched the first season twice and am tempted to watch it again. (Warning, though: it’s an Amazon Prime product.)

  • Not overtly ancestor-related, but earlier this month, I wrote a little post at Medium about “When Life Gives You Great Material.’

(Disclosure: A couple books listed above, Jeffers’ novel and Donner’s nonfiction, are in my possession as free early readers’ copies from publishers. I intended to buy finished copies of both before the free versions arrived, and I still do!)

All good wishes until next time.