Juyanne James grew up on a farm in southeast Louisiana; she left at 17 to join the US Navy. After holding a number of odd jobs (such as over-the-road truck driver), she returned to Louisiana to write and teach. Her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
1:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
State Capitol, Senate Committee Room A
Celebrating Short Stories
2:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Bookselling Tent
The Persimmon Trail & Other Stories
The seventeen stories in this debut collection by Juyanne James interpret the Louisiana experience. They stage encounters mostly with strong women—but also interesting men and families—all trying to survive in their own way. While this collection is as an evolution of the idea of "double-consciousness" and how African Americans see themselves in the world, the characters are remarkable in their own right, without having to be labeled. They are not so much concerned with color as they are with survival.
The collection opens with "You Don't Know Me, Child": a young bus rider grows fascinated with a female passenger who carries pictures in her hair, and the rider imagines the woman's past. The fractured "Bayou Buoys" is about a mother whose two boys are missing on the bayou. "Doll" is about early twentieth-century life—when black teachers were brought into small towns in the South to teach—and what happens when a field hand falls in love with a teacher.
James has written a thoroughly eclectic, lyrical collection of stories that speaks to the African American tradition, depicting life in New Orleans and rural Louisiana.
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