This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

8Nov/20

A TRIBUTE TO TONI MORRISON: SONG OF SOLOMON MARATHON READING

Who: Edwige Danticat, Jacqueline Woodson, Tommy Orange, Jesmyn Ward, Margaret Atwood, Hilton Als, Jennifer Egan, Jason Reynolds, Brit Bennett, Jesmyn Ward, Lorrie Moore, Ocean Vuong, Robin Coste Lewis, Tayari Jones, Tommy Orange, Yaa Gyasi, Louise Erdrich, Kevin Young, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Lisa Lucas
What: Virtual benefit reading
Where: Literacy Partners
When: Friday, November 27, 8:00 – 11:00 pm; Saturday, November 28, 2:00 – 6:00 pm; Sunday, November 29, 2:00 – 6:30 pm, free for a limited time with code FB2020
Why: It would be fascinating to hear what Toni Morrison would be thinking today, as Joe Biden has been announced as the president-elect, with Kamala Harris as his vice president. Shortly after Donald Trump was elected in November 2016, Morrison penned an article for the New Yorker, “Making America White Again,” in which she wrote, “Personal debasement is not easy for white people (especially for white men), but to retain the conviction of their superiority to others — especially to black people — they are willing to risk contempt, and to be reviled by the mature, the sophisticated, and the strong. If it weren’t so ignorant and pitiful, one could mourn this collapse of dignity in service to an evil cause. . . . So scary are the consequences of a collapse of white privilege that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength. These people are not so much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble.”

Morrison, who passed away in August 2019 at the age of eighty-eight, is being celebrated November 27-29 with a three-day all-star marathon reading of her third novel, 1977’s Song of Solomon, which earned her the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. The life story of Macon “Milkman” Dead III will be read by Edwige Danticat, Jacqueline Woodson, Tommy Orange, Jesmyn Ward, Margaret Atwood, Hilton Als, Jennifer Egan, Jason Reynolds, Brit Bennett, Jesmyn Ward, Lorrie Moore, Ocean Vuong, Robin Coste Lewis, Tayari Jones, Tommy Orange, Yaa Gyasi, and Louise Erdrich, with introductions by Kevin Young, Andrea Davis Pinkney, and Lisa Lucas. The event is part of “Words Shape Our World: A Literacy & Social Justice Series,” benefiting Literacy Partners, a nonprofit education organization that “focuses on parents to help them build the literacy and language skills they need to succeed in today’s society while promoting their children’s learning at home. . . . Since the emancipation of people who were enslaved, adult literacy has been central to Black liberation. We will continue to do the work until racism is eliminated from our economy and education system and every family has the opportunity to thrive.” Tickets to the benefit range from $100 to $1,000, but for a limited time they are free with the code FB2020 (although a $5 donation is suggested if you can, and $20 gets you a book bundle). “Perhaps that’s what all human relationships boil down to: Would you save my life? or would you take it?,” a character says in Song of Solomon. It’s frightening that especially in the age of Covid-19, the answer is not always what you’d expect.

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