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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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Aug 28, 2015
WDBJ-TV7 meteorologist Leo Hirsbrunner, right, wipes his eyes during the early morning newscast as anchors Kimberly McBroom, center, and guest anchor Steve Grant deliver the news at the station in Roanoke, Va., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. Reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed during a live broadcast Wednesday, while on assignment in Moneta. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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Lightning first ignited the Meadow fire on July 20, 2014 in Yosemite. By September 8, the fire had charred 2,582 acres. Bernie Krause has recorded soundscapes of national parks destroyed by large areas of forest fires. Listen below.  (National Park Service)

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Aug 28, 2015
Lightning first ignited the Meadow fire on July 20, 2014 in Yosemite. By September 8, the fire had charred 2,582 acres. Bernie Krause has recorded soundscapes of national parks destroyed by large areas of forest fires. Listen below.  (National Park Service)

A legendary natural sound collector shares his recordings. We’ll listen in.

 
Aug 28, 2015
WDBJ-TV7 meteorologist Leo Hirsbrunner, right, wipes his eyes during the early morning newscast as anchors Kimberly McBroom, center, and guest anchor Steve Grant deliver the news at the station in Roanoke, Va., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. Reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed during a live broadcast Wednesday, while on assignment in Moneta. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

A deadly shooting on live TV. Wall Street’s roller coaster ride. Biden considers a White House bid. 10 years since Katrina.

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