A groundbreaking book—two decades in the works—that tells the story of how a brilliant writer-turned-activist, granddaughter of a mulatto slave, and the first lady of the United States, whose ancestry gave her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, forged an enduring friendship that changed each of their lives and helped to alter the course of race and racism in America.
Pauli Murray first saw Eleanor Roosevelt in 1933, at the height of the Depression, at a government-sponsored, two-hundred-acre camp for unemployed women where Murray was living, something the first lady had pushed her husband to set up in her effort to do what she could for working women and the poor. The first lady appeared one day unannounced, behind the wheel of her car, her secretary and a Secret Service agent her passengers. To Murray, then aged twenty-three, Roosevelt’s self-assurance was a symbol of women’s independence, a symbol that endured throughout Murray’s life.
Five years later, Pauli Murray, a twenty-eight-year-old aspiring writer, wrote a letter to Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt protesting racial segregation in the South. The president’s staff forwarded Murray’s letter to the federal Office of Education. The first lady wrote back.
Murray’s letter was prompted by a speech the president had given at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, praising the school for its commitment to social progress. Pauli Murray had been denied admission to the Chapel Hill graduate school because of her race.
Drawing on letters, journals, diaries, published and unpublished manuscripts, and interviews, Patricia Bell-Scott gives us the first close-up portrait of this evolving friendship and how it was sustained over time, what each gave to the other, and how their friendship changed the cause of American social justice.
Published on 2 February 2016.
Published by: Knopf
Acclaimed as one of the most exciting books in the history of American letters, this modern epic became an instant bestseller upon publication in 1974, transforming a generation and continuing to inspire millions.
A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, the book becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions of how to live.
Resonant with the confusions of existence, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a touching and transcendent book of life.
Published in 2014.
In 2016, Bob Dylan received the Nobel Prize in Literature ‘for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition’. This collection of essays by leading poets and critics – with a new foreword by Will Self – examines Dylan’s poetic genius, as well as his astounding cultural influence over the decades.
‘From Orpheus to Faiz, song and poetry have been closely linked. Dylan is the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition’ Salman Rushdie
‘The most significant Western popular artist in any form or medium of the past sixty years’ Will Self
‘For fifty and some years he has bent, coaxed, teased and persuaded words into lyric and narrative shapes that are at once extraordinary and inevitable’ Andrew Motion
‘His haunting music and lyrics have always seemed, in the deepest sense, literary’ Joyce Carol Oates
‘There is something inevitable about Bob Dylan… A storyteller pulling out all the stops – metaphor, allegory, repetition, precise detail… His virtue is in his style, his attitude, his disposition to the world’ Simon Armitage
Published in 2017.
How do you clothe a book?
In this deeply personal reflection, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jhumpa Lahiri explores the art of the book jacket from the perspectives of both reader and writer.
Probing the complex relationships between text and image, author and designer, and art and commerce, Lahiri delves into the role of the uniform; explains what book jackets and design have come to mean to her; and how, sometimes, “the covers become a part of me.”
Published on 15 November 2016.