Although An American Marriage is Tayari Jones’ fourth book, the author wasn’t prepared for its reception. The story, in which the relationship of the protagonists, Roy and Celestial, is torn apart by a wrongful conviction and incarceration, is certainly dramatic. And the book, which came out earlier this year, was described in The New York Times as “beautifully written,” full of “the everyday poetry of the African-American community that begs to be heard.” Then came Oprah Winfrey’s selection of An American Marriage for her book club.
“I would have anticipated that it would be all jumping up and down, but it’s a significant responsibility,” Jones tells Reside. "It is an honor, but I’m aware that I’m not just representing myself.”
Jones, 47, said the reception to An American Marriage is taking place on a much larger and deeper scale than her previous novels, which she sees as an indication that the events of the story are resonating in a deeply personal way with many readers.
“I hope this provides comfort and engages people for whom this experience I’m writing about is significant,” Jones says, “and awakening others to have empathy.”
As a reader, Jones says, with the warm weather approaching, she seeks out books that are a bit breezy, but still “have some teeth in them.” Below, her recommendations for summer reads: