With a new year comes new reading lists. We at Anisfield-Wolf rounded up some of the new and not-so-new books we’d like to read over the next few weeks. If this proves popular, we’ll keep adding books here as suggestions and have a discussion about what we’ve enjoyed over on our Facebook page.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali – Infidel
Stephen L. Carter – The Emperor of Ocean Park
Jill Lepore – The Mansion of Happiness
August Wilson – Fences
Esi Edugyan – The Second Life of Samuel Tyne
In our rush to get to Thanksgiving dinner, we missed the anniversary of August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson.” 2011 winner Isabel Wilkerson reminded us through a post on her Facebook page (she’s just FULL of wonderful factoids about African American history), including a rare photo of Samuel L. Jackson (third from left), who starred in the play as Boy Willie.
It was 25 years ago today, Nov. 23, 1987, that the August Wilson play, The Piano Lesson, made its world premiere, starring Samuel L. Jackson (3rd from left) as Boy Willie, at the Yale Repertory Theatre. The play would win the Pulitzer Prize. In its scenes play out the legacy of slavery and the Great Migration…. Boy Willie arrives in Pittsburgh from Mississippi in 1936 and clashes with his sister, Berniece, who had migrated north.
The conflict is over an upright piano, which held the history and secrets of the family’s hardships in the South. Boy Willie wants to sell the piano to buy the land where their ancestors had toiled as slaves and sharecroppers. The sister wants to keep the piano because of the sacrifice at which it had come and the memory it contains.
The playwright August Wilson was a product of the Great Migration — his grandmother walked from Spears, N.C. to Pittsburgh. The play was inspired by a collage called “Piano Lesson” by another child of the Migration, the artist Romare Bearden….
We’ve been in a real August Wilson mood around here lately and with good reason. Residents of Northeast Ohio (our neck of the woods) will have the chance to see five of Wilson’s plays from his Pittsburgh Cycle, his ten-play cycle on the Black experience in the 20th century.
In this interview, 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award winner August Wilson gives his opinion on everything from African-Americans visiting to Africa to whether the Cosby Show was realistic for its time. There aren’t many interviews with Wilson available, so we hope you take some time to listen to his passionate views on race and culture. Let it spark a conversation today.