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James McBride On His New Novel ‘The Good Lord Bird’

We talk to bestselling author James McBride about his new novel “The Good Lord Bird,” on slavery and the abolitionist movement.

(James McBride, photo by Chris Messina)

(James McBride, photo by Chris Messina)

At the end of a week where civil rights have been on everyone’s mind, we sit down with James McBride, author of “The Color of Water,” to talk about his new novel, “The Good Lord Bird.”

He looks at the notorious abolitionist John Brown, a religious zealot set on ending slavery through violent uprising. His sidekick, and our narrator, is Henry, although to a mixed up John Brown, it’s Henrietta.  In the novel we meet Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.  We see America on the brink of Civil War.

This hour, On Point: Bestselling author James McBride and his new book, “The Good Lord Bird.”

Guest

James McBride, author, musician, and screenwriter. His new novel is “The Good Lord Bird.”

From Tom’s Reading List

San Francisco Chronicle: ‘The Good Lord Bird,’ by James McBride — “We have heard of good people who get swept up in historical circumstances and act badly. But sometimes history flatters mediocre people – that is, certain members of the fair-to-middling majority who, by happenstance, act bravely. Such is the persona who narrates James McBride’s absorbing and darkly funny novel, ‘The Good Lord Bird.'”

The Week: James McBride’s 6 favorite books — “‘The Bluest Eye’ by Toni Morrison (Vintage, $14). There’s no book that better captures the frustrations, hopes, dreams, and disappointments of black American girls. This book was written before Ms. Morrison outgrew the storytelling form that most writers must adhere to. She’s a genius. She can fly. The rest of us have to wait for the subway.”

Excerpt: ‘The Good Lord Bird’ by James McBride

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ONPOINT
TODAY
Dec 17, 2014
Relatives of a victim of a Taliban attack in a school, mourn over her lifeless body at a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. Taliban gunmen stormed a military-run school in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Tuesday, killing and wounding scores, officials said, in the highest-profile militant attack to hit the troubled region in months. (AP)

The Taliban take responsibility for killing more than 100 Pakistani schoolchildren. We ask why there, why now.

Dec 17, 2014
Germany's Andre Schuerrle, left, celebrates scoring his side's 6th goal as Brazil's goalkeeper Julio Cesar reacts during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Brazil and Germany at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Tuesday, July 8, 2014.  Germany went on to win the World Cup championship later that month. (AP)

From the Sochi Olympics and Ray Rice to Lebron’s return to Cleveland, we’ll unpack a big year in sports.

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Dec 16, 2014
A still from Amanda Brown's documentary film, "Black Heirlooms." (Courtesy the FIlmmaker)

The documentary “Black Heirlooms,” tells the story of how inheritances, even humble ones, can tear families apart. We talk to the director.

 
Dec 16, 2014
Supermodel Beverly Johnson. (Courtesy Beverly Johnson)

Supermodel Beverly Johnson is the latest woman to accuse Bill Cosby. She joins us.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
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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.

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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)

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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.

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