Anisfield-Wolf Book Discussions: Spring 2023


In collaboration with Ursuline College, the Ohio Center for the Book will be co-sponsoring a book discussion series this spring of three memoirs written by winners of the prestigious Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.

Artwork by Sina Grace

The conversations will be led by Dr. Valentino Zullo, the Anisfield-Wolf Postdoctoral Fellow in English and the Public Humanities at Ursuline College as well as an Ohio Center for the Book Scholar-in-Residence Emeritus.

Discussions will take place at Bookhouse Brewing located at 1526 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH 44113-3104 on the second Tuesday of each month.

The titles being discussed this season are:

Tuesday, March 14, 2023 — 6:30 pm

Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir by Natasha Trethewey

(click here to reserve or download a copy)

At age nineteen, Natasha Trethewey had her world turned upside down when her former stepfather shot and killed her mother. Grieving and still new to adulthood, she confronted the twin pulls of life and death in the aftermath of unimaginable trauma and now explores the way this experience lastingly shaped the artist she became.

Memorial Drive is a compelling and searching look at a shared human experience of sudden loss and absence but also a piercing glimpse at the enduring ripple effects of white racism and domestic abuse. Animated by unforgettable prose and inflected by a poet’s attention to language, this is a luminous, urgent, and visceral memoir from one of our most important contemporary writers and thinkers. One of Barack Obama’s Favorite Books of 2020

Tuesday, April 11, 2023 — 6:30 pm

Paula by Isabel Allende

(click here to reserve or download a copy)

When Isabel Allende’s daughter, Paula, became gravely ill and fell into a coma, the author began to write the story of her family for her unconscious child. In the telling, bizarre ancestors appear before our eyes; we hear both delightful and bitter childhood memories, amazing anecdotes of youthful years, and the most intimate secrets passed along in whispers. With Paula, Allende has written a powerful autobiography whose straightforward acceptance of the magical and spiritual worlds will remind readers of her first book, The House of the Spirits.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023 — 6:30 pm

Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston

(click here to reserve or download a copy)

Dust Tracks on a Road is the bold, poignant, and funny autobiography of novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, one of American literature’s most compelling and influential authors. Hurston’s powerful novels of the South–including Jonah’s Gourd Vine and, most famously, Their Eyes Were Watching God–continue to enthrall readers with their lyrical grace, sharp detail, and captivating emotionality. First published in 1942, Dust Tracks on a Road is Hurston’s personal story, told in her own words.

“The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards recognize books that have made important contributions to our understanding of racism and human diversity. Cleveland poet and philanthropist Edith Anisfield Wolf established the book awards in 1935, in honor of her father, John Anisfield, and husband, Eugene Wolf, to reflect her family’s passion for social justice. Presented by the Cleveland Foundation, it remains the only American book prize focusing on works that address racism and diversity.” (from the Anisfield-Wolf Award website) The current jury for the award is a litany of prestigious names in the literary and academic community: Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Harvard University), Rita Dove (University of Virgina), Joyce Carol Oates (Princeton University), Steven Pinker (Harvard University), and Simon Schama (Columbia University)