Kiese Laymon Reading and Conversation recorded on November 9, 2021
Kiese Laymon is a powerhouse of a writer, whose fierce honesty necessitates that readers open their hearts and their eyes. Laymon is a Black southern writer from Jackson, Mississippi, who is is the author of the genre-bending novel, Long Division, the essay collection, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and the bestselling memoir, Heavy. In Heavy, Laymon “fearlessly explores what the weight of a lifetime of secrets, lies, and deception does to a black body, a black family, and a nation teetering on the brink of moral collapse.”
Author Reginald Dwayne Betts writes of Laymon’s work:
"Kiese crafts the most honest and intimate account of growing up black and southern since Richard Wright's Black Boy. Circumventing the myths about blackness, he writes something as complex and fragile as who we is. An insider's look into the making of a writer, Heavy is part memoir and part look into the books that turned a kid into a story teller. Heavy invites us into a black South that remembers that we loved each other through it all. In “Nikki-Rosa,” Nikki Giovanni wrote that ‘black love is black wealth.’ This book is the weight of black love, and might we all be wealthy by daring to open up to it."
Heavy: An American Memoir, won the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, the 2018 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose, the Austen Riggs Erikson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media, and was named one of the 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years by The New York Times. The audiobook, read by the author, was named the Audible 2018 Audiobook of the Year. Laymon is the recipient of 2020-2021 Radcliffe Fellowship at Harvard. Laymon is at work on several new projects, including the long poem, Good God, the horror comedy, And So On, the children’s book, City Summer, Country Summer and the film Heavy: An American Memoir. He is the founder of “The Catherine Coleman Literary Arts and Justice Initiative,” a program aimed at getting Mississippi kids and their parents more comfortable reading, writing, revising, and sharing.