In Mississippi , author Anthony Walton, a middle class African-American who grew up in the comfort of the Chicago suburbs, travels to Mississippi to learn more about his family's past, and to learn more about the past of the American South. What comes of the trip is a beautiful memoir that covers the often vicious history of the state from explorers/settlers, to the Civil War, to present day Mississipi. Walton encounters his own family history with a very honest balance of delicacy, disappointment, love, outrage, and grace.
Since I have been lucky enough to work on various projects with Anthony Walton (who lives here in Maine!), you don't have to trust my (potentially biased) opinion. Here is what the New York Times had to say:
"...if Mississippi has been powerfully inscribed in literature and memory before, nobody has written about it quite the way Mr. Walton does in "Mississippi: An American Journey." This is in large part because of Mr. Walton's skills as a writer and storyteller, which are considerable. But indispensable also is the particular historical moment that he represents. Mr. Walton looks at Mississippi in the way American Jews or Italians or Irish might look back at the old country in Europe, as a place of primal roots that one is glad to be away from and yet toward which one is strangely drawn in the quest for self-understanding."You can read the full New York Times article here.
Interview with Anthony Walton about his BBC project "Southern Road," also about the American South.
Anthony Walton on Random House
Anthony Walton's recent book, Brothers in Arms (written with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar