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Written in the Sky: Lessons of a Southern Daughter (Paperback)

Written in the Sky: Lessons of a Southern Daughter By Patricia Foster Cover Image
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Deeply personal essays probing the lingering legacies of the southern social divide
In Written in the Sky: Lessons of a Southern Daughter, Patricia Foster presents a double portrait of place and family, a book of deeply personal essays that interrogate the legacy of racial tensions in the South, the constriction of caste and gender, and the ways race, class, and white privilege are entwined in her family story. After interviewing girls at Booker T. Washington High School in Tuskegee, Alabama, visiting the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, and exploring Africatown in Plateau, Alabama, Patricia Foster was moved to reflect on the racial scars and crossroads in her southern past as well as to reckon with the intimate places of her own wounding and grief.

The story of place, she discovers, emerges not only from family histories and cultural traditions but also from wrestling with a culture’s irreconcilable ideas: the hard push to determine what matters. What matters to her are the shadow stories beneath our mythologies, the complicated and radiant narratives that must be excavated and reckoned with, stories that have no neat or binary resolution, stories full of luminous moments and riveting facts, and stories where the secrets hide. Written in the Sky presents the best of nonfiction storytelling: searingly honest portraits, dramatic encounters, and lyrical narratives that will interest teachers and students as well as social justice advocates, policymakers, and readers compelled by stories of awakening and the white-hot beauty of language.

About the Author

Patricia Foster is professor emerita at the University of Iowa’s MFA Program in Nonfiction, where she taught for twenty-five years. She is author of numerous books, including Girl from Soldier Creek, Just Beneath My Skin, and All the Lost Girls: Confessions of a Southern Daughter.

Praise For…

“Taking a cue from James Baldwin, who found the innocence of privileged white Americans appalling, Patricia Foster has recounted her own trajectory from clueless small-town Southern girl to a hard-won loss of innocence about the reality of racism, in this stunningly written, unique and vital memoir.”
—Phillip Lopate, author of To Show and To Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction

"Reading Patricia Foster’s artful and heart-wrenching memoir, I found myself thinking about James Baldwin. To me, no other essayist in American letters has written more powerfully than Baldwin about the issue of race, wrapping the brutality at the heart of the American experience in language so beautiful that we can bear it. Foster has entered that terrain. But if Baldwin lays bare the Black experience, Foster writes as a white southern woman raised in small town privilege and coming, over the course of her life, face to face with the truth. Others of us have had that experience, but almost none have written about it in language more lovely or truthful or hard. In the end, Foster’s leap of moral imagination is where we all must go to find hope."
—Frye Gaillard, co-author of The Southernization of America

"This probing, insightful, and often lyrical book reflects a lifetime of meditating about what it means to be a child gradually becoming aware of a wider world, a Southern woman, and a citizen of a country still wrestling with the demons of race, class, and a rural-urban divide. It is a treat to have these thoughtful essays collected in one volume."
—Adam Hochschild, author of American Midnight: The Great War, a Violent Peace, and Democracy's Forgotten Crisis
Product Details
ISBN: 9780817360962
ISBN-10: 0817360964
Publisher: University Alabama Press
Publication Date: September 26th, 2023
Pages: 224
Language: English