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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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  • Sockmonkey00

    only heard a quick bit of the program, can you let us know what songs were played? there was one i wanted to find

    • skelly74

      Yes..”It’s too Late” by Carol King…

      • Sockmonkey00

        sorry, Im looking for the john brown song that wasnt john browns body

  • skelly74

    McBride is on to something special.

    What a great idea for a historical fiction. I wonder the publishing market demand for historical fiction because it is a fascinating genre.

  • mrtwilight23

    Great interview & great show. Thank you James and Jane.

  • allen 2saint

    Smart, insightful author. Jane Clayson is my new crush. Listen to her diction, man! The beautiful soft “h” before words like “what.” Swoon.

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