Episode 157 — Ayana Mathis


Ayana Mathis is today’s guest. Her debut novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, was an official selection of Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 and has since gone on to become a New York Times bestseller. It is available now from Knopf. (Photo credit: Rob Howard.)

Kirkus, in a starred review, calls it

Cutting, emotional…pure heartbreak…though Mathis has inherited some of Toni Morrison’s poetic intonation, her own prose is appealingly earthbound and plainspoken, and the book’s structure is ingenious…an excellent debut.

And Marilynne Robinson raves

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is a vibrant and compassionate portrait of a family hardened and scattered by circumstance and yet deeply a family. Its language is elegant in its purity and rigor. The characters are full of life, mingled thing that it is, and dignified by the writer’s judicious tenderness towards them. This first novel is a work of rare maturity.

Monologue topics: mail, dinner invitations, IRL.