The History of Literature #298 – Amyra León!

298 Amyra León!

Jacke talks to Amyra León, author of the new book Concrete Kids, about her background, her artistic projects, and how influences like James Baldwin, Frida Kahlo, and Frederick Douglass helped make her the person she is today.

Concrete Kids is part of The Pocket Change Collective (Penguin Random House), a new pocket-sized nonfiction series centered around timely issues and written by today’s leading activists.

Amyra León is an author, musician, playwright, and activist. Her work transcends genre and medium, and focuses on Black liberation, politics, and communal healing. She believes that the art of listening and honest conversation are the primary tools for lasting change. Her aim is to empower communities to believe in the significance of their individual stories.

Help support the show at or (We appreciate it!) Find out more at, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to

New!!! Looking for an easy to way to buy Jacke a coffee? Now you can at Your generosity is much appreciated!

The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at

The History of Literature #231 – James Baldwin | Going to Meet the Man

James Baldwin (1924-1987) was a fearless artist, an uncompromising critic, a brilliant essayist, and an American who lived within his time and yet was decades ahead of it. In this episode, Jacke takes a look at Going To Meet the Man,” Baldwin’s provocative story of the power dynamics at play within a white Southern man who attends a lynching. (Warning: This story of racism, violence, and sexual activity is graphic and brutal. Listeners may want to exercise caution.)

Help support the show at or (We appreciate it!) Find out more at,, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to

The History of Literature #229 – Baldwin v Faulkner

In the 1950s, William Faulkner (1897-1962) was one of most celebrated novelists in America, highly praised for this formal innovation, his prodigious storytelling gifts, and his sweeping, multigenerational portrait of Southern society.

James Baldwin (1924-1987) was a writer on the rise, youthful and energetic, fearless and incisive, known for essays and commentary as brilliant as his fiction.

In this episode of The History of Literature, we take a look at the public debate surrounding the civil rights movement, which Faulkner addressed in a (purportedly) drunken interview in which he said, “If I have to choose between the United States Government and Mississippi then I’ll choose Mississippi. If it came to fighting I’d fight for Mississippi against the United States, even if it meant going out into the street and shooting Negros.” At calmer points, Faulkner freely acknowledged that desegregation was the correct view “morally, legally, and ethically” but was not, in his view, “practical.”

In 1956, writing in the pages of the Partisan Review, Baldwin responded to these and other Faulkner statements with a brief, dazzling essay “Faulkner and Desegregation,” in which he analyzed Faulkner’s position on race, linked Faulkner’s publicly expressed views to the inner world of the Southerner of the 1950s, and – it became clear a few months later – set the stage for his own efforts to inhabit and portray the mindset of a white Southerner in his fiction.

How does the fiction of these two men work? What did it say about race and power and the precarious balance of a time, a place, and an era? What does understanding this mean for us today? We’ll explore those questions in our next two episodes, where we look at a pair of short stories, Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” and Baldwin’s “Going to Meet the Man.”

Help support the show at or (We appreciate it!) Find out more at,, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to

Music Credits:

“Darxieland” and “Allemande Sting” by Kevin MacLeod (

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

History of Literature #78 – Jane Eyre, The Good Soldier, Giovanni’s Room (with Margot Livesey)


Writing about the Scottish-born novelist Margot Livesey, the author Alice Sebold remarked, “Every novel of Margot Livesey’s is, for her readers, a joyous discovery. Her work radiates with compassion and intelligence and always, deliciously, mystery.”

How has Margot Livesey managed to create this suspense in novel after novel, including in contemporary classics such as The Flight of Gemma Hardy, The House on Fortune Street, and her most recent work, Mercury? Host Jacke Wilson is joined by the author for a conversation about her readerly passions and writerly inspirations, including Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier, and James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room.


Show Notes:  Continue reading

History of Literature #66: James Baldwin, Wallace Stegner, GB Tran, Lois Duncan (with author Shawna Yang Ryan


What can we do to unlock the past? How do family secrets affect us? Author Shawna Yang Ryan has spent a lot of time thinking about these issues – and in this episode, she joins Jacke for a discussion of some of her favorite books, including the novel that led her to rethink her understanding of the American West and the graphic novel about a family’s journey that can bring her to tears.

SHAWNA YANG RYAN is a former Fulbright scholar and the author of Water Ghosts (Penguin Press 2009) and Green Island (Knopf 2016). She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Her short fiction has appeared inZYZZYVA, The Asian American Literary ReviewKartika Review, andThe Berkeley Fiction Review. She is the 2015 recipient of the Elliot Cades Emerging Writer award. Originally from California, she now lives in Honolulu.


Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 58:44 — 40.6MB) | Embed

Works Discussed:

Green Island and Water Ghosts by Shawna Yang Ryan

Another Country by James Baldwin

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

Vietnamerica: A Family’s Journey by GB Tran

Locked in Time by Lois Duncan

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Yi Yi [A One and a Two…] directed by Edward Yang

Show Notes:  Continue reading

Writers Laughing: A Jacke Wilson Gallery

Peace on earth, good will to all…and a photo gallery of great writers caught in the act of laughing.  Happy holidays!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Join us on the History of Literature podcast or at the Jacke Wilson blog for more literary delights.

All image credits available on


Writers Laughing: James Baldwin

Here we go again!

These are harder to find than you might think. So many poses, so many polite smiles, so many serious looks… and then now and then you find a gem like this one…


…and everything’s worth it. Like an extra shot of espresso added to my cup of Thursday.

Have a great day, everyone! Onward and upward!

Image Credit: LA Times