90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Ayana Mathis And ‘The Twelve Tribes Of Hattie’

Breakout novelist Ayana Mathis and her raw telling of African-America’s great northern migration in “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.”

Ayana Mathis (Photo by Michael Lionstar)

Ayana Mathis (Photo by Michael Lionstar)

Over six decades starting about a century ago, six million African-Americans made their way north out of the Jim Crow south in what came to be called the Great Migration. The move changed people and families and the country.

What was it like to live that move? To span that physical and cultural and psychological migration?

Novelist Ayana Mathis picks up the trail, the legacy, in a debut work that’s getting a lot of attention. One black family, a dozen kids, and a journey that’s still on.

This hour, On Point: Ayana Mathis and “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.”

-Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Ayana Mathis, author of “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.”

From Tom’s Reading List

Ebony “Ayana Mathis didn’t know that her first novel would catapult her to immediate success. After receiving a call from Oprah Winfrey that her book, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, had been tapped for the media moguls’ re-launched book club, Mathis’ success seemed to be one that came to life overnight. However, few would know that Mathis’s road to success was long and arduous one as she struggled with keeping faith in her writing abilities.”

The New York Times “Hattie Shepherd, the title character of Ayana Mathis’s piercing debut novel, is at once a tragic heroine with mythic dimensions and an entirely recognizable mother and wife trying to make ends meet. Her story, set in 20th-century Philadelphia, is one of terrible loss and grief and survival, a story of endurance in the face of disappointment, heartbreak and harrowing adversity.”

Salon “It’s interesting. I should say that I don’t tend to write to theme. I write to character. In my own process and sometimes in others you can end up in a kind of manifesto-y situation, which is never the kind of fiction that I love best and not what I wanted to write at all. And so as it emerged, I began to understand, ‘This is about the Great Migration.'”

Excerpt From “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie”

Show Playlist

Work Song — Duke Ellington (from his 1943 jazz symphony “Black, Brown, and Beige.”)

Trouble Man — Marvin Gaye

Feeling Good — Nina Simone

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Dec 19, 2014
Alan Gross, waves as he and his wife Judy leave following his statement at his lawyer's office in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Gross was released from Cuba after 5 years in a Cuban prison. (AP)

Cuba reset. Russia’s rubble troubles. School massacre in Pakistan. Jeb explores 2016. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Dec 19, 2014
Soledad, and from left, Nina Pastori, and Lila Downs perform on stage at the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year Tribute honoring Joan Manuel Serrat at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP)

From crossover hits to hip-hop to soul, we look at a big year in the wide world of Latin music.

RECENT
SHOWS
Dec 18, 2014
A poster for the movie "The Interview" is carried away by a worker after being pulled from a display case at a Carmike Cinemas movie theater, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP)

A big Sony hack gets weirder and wider. And Hollywood and Homeland Security are on edge.

 
Dec 18, 2014
This handout photo from the Twitter account of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. shows Alan Gross arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. The US and Cuba have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties, marking a historic shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island after a half-century of enmity dating back to the Cold War, American officials said Wednesday. (AP)

Following months of secret talks the US will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than fifty years.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Cosby Accuser Beverly Johnson: ‘He's A Black Man. I Had To Separate The Trayvon Martins, The Michael Browns From What Happened To Me’
Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014

Beverly Johnson accused comedian Bill Cosby of drugging her in a high-profile Vanity Fair column. She tells us why she waited so long to share her story, and why it was even harder to share now.

More »
2 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: December 12, 2014
Friday, Dec 12, 2014

On listener engagement, the meeting of trans-Atlantic royalty and the elusive origins of the chicken. (We promise this feed hasn’t been taken over the BBC…yet)

More »
Comment
 
Quinn Sullivan, LIVE In Our Studio
Wednesday, Dec 10, 2014

Fifteen-year old Quinn Sullivan is a humble, “ordinary” high school sophomore. But he’s also a blues guitar phenom. He brought his talents to the On Point studio today.

More »
Comment