Page 1




One Book, One Chicago

FALL 2010

City of Chicago, Richard M. Daley, Mayor presented by the Chicago Public Library, the Chicago Public Library Foundation and

aa mercy m rcy TONI MORRISON

CONTENTS Author Bio Carl Sandburg Literary Award Programs and Events Discussion Groups Discussion Questions Character List Historical Timeline Time Capsule – 1690 Further Reading

2 5 6 12 15 16 18 22 28

A Mercy by Toni Morrison is the 19th selection for One Book, One Chicago. For a list of past selections, go to

Greetings, As Mayor and on behalf of the City of Chicago, I invite you to participate in the Fall 2010 One Book, One Chicago program. This award-winning program encourages all Chicagoans to come together with friends and neighbors to share and discuss a great work of literature. This fall, One Book, One Chicago celebrates the most recent novel by literary icon Toni Morrison. A Mercy is the story of a group of individuals brought together in the wilderness of America in the 1680s—from the young slave girl who was given up by her mother and is struggling to come of age, to the Native American woman who takes her under her wing, to the Anglo-Dutch landowner who comes to America to farm but is drawn to the rum trade and the promise of wealth. A Mercy provides an opportunity to look into the often horrific early days of America, with its realities of slavery, religious persecution, mistreatment of Native Americans, and the hardship of disease, in order to define the America of today and to create a better future. Toni Morrison, the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature, is a master storyteller and an American intellectual whose work will be treasured for centuries to come. You can find a copy of A Mercy at your neighborhood Chicago Public Library or local bookstore. Please take part in one of the many book discussions planned in libraries, bookstores, community centers and universities throughout October and join us for any number of events celebrating the book this fall, including the opening event on September 7 at the Harold Washington Library Center where you can get a free copy of the book, and an appearance by Professor Morrison on October 19 at Symphony Center. Sincerely,

Mayor Show on cover: Image copyright Š 2010 Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto (Photo: Hal Roth); Gate illustration: Steve Musgrave


While teaching at Howard in the early 1960s, Morrison joined a group of poets and writers and began to write fiction. She penned a short story that would eventually become her first novel, The Bluest Eye, about a young black girl who drives herself mad wishing that her eyes were blue. In 1963, Morrison moved to New York, where she made a name for herself in publishing as an editor at Random House. She edited books by such authors as Toni Cade Bambara and Angela Davis, and would remain at Random House until 1983, well into her career as a novelist.


Portrait by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

oni Morrison was born Chloe Anthony Wofford on February 18, 1931 in Lorain, Ohio to Ramah and George Wofford. Both of her parents came from sharecropping families that had moved north in the early years of the century. Morrison was interested in classic literature and storytelling at an early age, passions encouraged by her parents. She attended Lorain High School, working in homes after school and earning two dollars a week. She graduated with honors in 1949. Morrison’s parents encouraged her to go to college, and she earned her Bachelor’s degree in English from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1953. It was at Howard where she began to call herself Toni. She continued her studies at Cornell University, where she earned a Master’s in English in 1955, writing her thesis on alienated characters in the works of Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner. Morrison went on to teach at Texas Southern University in Houston and at Howard.


Word -work is sublime… because it is generative; it makes meaning that secures our difference, our human difference - the way in which we are like no other life. ~

Toni Morrison, Nobel Lecture, December, 1993

While at Random House, Morrison worked on an anthology titled The Black Book that compiled images and items from the African American cultural experience and history. While creating the book, Morrison came across the story of Margaret Garner, a runaway slave who, when recaptured, slit the throat of her child rather than subject that child to bondage. Morrison’s discovery of this true story set her on a path to learn more about the lives of slaves, particularly women and mothers, and inspired her to write Beloved. While working as an editor and pursuing her own writing, Morrison also taught at the State University College at Purchase, N.Y., and at the State University at Albany. In 1970, The Bluest Eye was published. Sula followed in 1974. The story of the lifelong friendship between two women who grew up together in a poor, black Ohio neighborhood, Sula was nominated for a National Book Award. In 1977 Song of Solomon, a novel that used aspects of magical realism to tell the story of four generations of an African American family, won the National Book

Critics Circle Award. In 1981 Morrison’s next novel, Tar Baby, told an intense love story while dealing in new ways with race, gender and class. In 1987, Morrison was named the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities at Princeton. In the same year, she published Beloved, the story inspired by the slave Margaret Garner. The novel received abundant praise from the public and critics alike, and earned Morrison the 1988 Pulitzer Prize. It remains a significant work of the American experience, and was adapted into a film in 1998 directed by Jonathan Demme, starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover. The follow-up to Beloved was Jazz, published in 1992, bringing to life Harlem in the 1920s. In 1993, Morrison was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first African American woman to claim this honor. When she learned of the distinction, she was already at work on her next novel, Paradise. Published in 1998, Paradise was set in the all-black town of Ruby, Oklahoma,


and again made use of elements of magical realism. Next was Morrison’s 2003 novel Love, in which she focused on a charismatic hotel owner and the women who loved him in a black seaside community. Morrison has also written essays, articles, a play and children’s and nonfiction books, as well as the libretto to the 2008 opera Margaret Garner, composed by Richard Danielpour. Other honors include the 1994 Pearl Buck Award; title of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters; the 2000 National Humanities Medal; and the 1996 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Beloved was chosen in 2006 by a New York Times survey of writers as the best work of American fiction of the last quarter century. Morrison is a trustee of the New York Public Library and a member of the American Academy, the Institute of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has honorary degrees from Harvard, Sarah Lawrence College, the University of Pennsylvania,Yale, Dartmouth, Georgetown and the Sorbonne, among others. A Mercy, Morrison’s most recent novel published in 2008, returns to the life of slaves in America, this time with a focus on the 17th century. Morrison’s dedication to paying homage to the lives of slaves is exemplified in her own statement about her need to write Beloved: “There is no suitable memorial, or plaque, or wreath, or wall, or park, or skyscraper lobby. There’s no 300-foot tower, there’s no small bench by the road… And because such a place doesn’t exist… the book had to” (The World, 1989). In July 2008, at a spot off of the South Carolina coast which was a point of entry into North America for millions of enslaved Africans, the “Bench by the Road” project, created by the Toni Morrison Society, dedicated the first of a series of benches honoring the African American contribution to the country.


MORE BY TONI MORRISON Fiction The Bluest Eye, 1970 Sula, 1974 Song of Solomon, 1977 Tar Baby, 1981 Beloved, 1987 Jazz, 1992 Paradise, 1998 Love, 2003 Nonfiction Race-ing Justice, En-gendering Power, 1992 Playing in the Dark:Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, 1992 The Dancing Mind, 1996 Birth of a Nation’Hood: Gaze, Script, and Spectacle in the O. J. Simpson Case, 1997 Remember: The Journey to School Integration (for children), 2004 Sources: Contemporary Authors Online, Thomson Gale, 2006. New York Times “Times Topics”

Awards Dinner Carl Sandburg Literary HONORING



20, Wednesday, October

6:00 p.m.

osevelt Rd. The Forum, 725 W. Ro is at Chicago

On the campus of the

University of Illino

annually by the erary Award, presented The Carl Sandburg Lit rary Foundation Lib blic and Chicago Pu Chicago Public Library y of work that has honors a significant bod at a fundraising dinner, rd and reflects the areness of the written wo enhanced the public’s aw of all people to dom free commitment to the y’s rar Lib blic Pu go ica Ch cover. read, to learn and to dis rah Winfrey for a be joined onstage by Op Professor Morrison will rk. conversation about her wo ent in writing , honoring recent achievem The 21st Century Award la Biss. Her Eu ter Chicago, will go to wri to ties h wit hor aut an by nd, was honored as tes From No Man’s La recent book of essays, No al Book Critic’s rary criticism by the Nation this year’s best work of lite Circle.

0, $25,000, $15,000 available at the $50,00 Sponsorship packages are a table of ten guests. for ese include reservations and $10,000 levels.Th rmation, contact Rebecca info For . 500 $2, 000 and Individual tickets are $1, 2) 201-9830 ext. 25 (31 , tion blic Library Founda ke Spence at the Chicago Pu to ma chicagopublicli or at rspence@cplfoundatio online purchases.



The below programs are free and open to the public, with no reservations required unless otherwise noted. For more information on programming, call (312) 747-8191. One Book, One Chicago Opening Event Tuesday, September 7, 6:00 p.m. Harold Washington Library Center, Cindy Pritzker Auditorium 400 S. State St. Chicago Public Library is proud to present Dwight McBride, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Professor of African American Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies, in a lecture on Toni Morrison’s importance not just as a novelist, but as a leading American intellectual. This kick off to Chicago’s fall city-wide reading initiative also includes a brief performance from the opera Margaret Garner, for which Morrison wrote the libretto, presented with help from the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera; and a give-away of free copies of A Mercy to the first 385 attendees!

GENEALOGY WORKSHOPS With A Mercy, Toni Morrison creates an incredibly accurate portrait of the early melting pot of colonial America, and allows us to hold a mirror to our multi-cultural society today. These workshops provide a tutorial on how to get started with your own genealogical search, no matter what your background.


Genealogy Workshop 1: Introduction to Online Databases Get your feet wet exploring family records and other genealogical information by conducting a simple online search available for free to anyone with a library card. Examples are given, followed by time for personal searching. Please bring the name and birth or death date of at least one relative. Saturday, October 2, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Harold Washington Library Center 400 S. State St., 4th Floor North, ERC Space is limited. For reservations call: (312) 747-8191 Thursday, October 7, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Sulzer Regional Library 4455 N. Lincoln Ave. Space is limited. For reservations call: (312) 747-8191 Genealogy Workshop 2: Tracing Slavery and Slaveholding in the Family These talks/workshops feature Pam Smith, a local communications consultant and genealogist whose decades-long look into her own family’s past have led to her to Africa and to appearances on NPR, Lifetime, and “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. Smith is now writing a book with a descendant of the slaveholding family that once owned hers. Saturday, October 9, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Legler Branch 115 S. Pulaski Rd. Space is limited. For reservations call: (312) 747-8191 Saturday, October 30, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Avalon Branch 8148 S. Stony Island Ave. Space is limited. For reservations call: (312) 747-8191

Research and Creativity Thursday, October 7, 6:00 p.m. Newberry Library, Ruggles Hall 60 W. Walton Ave. For authors interested in distant historical places, libraries and archives become part of their creative process. Join a panel of scholars whose insights into early America provide context and depth to the story of A Mercy, and how Toni Morrison may have researched the period that became the backdrop to her novel. Panelists include Eric Slauter, Director of the Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture at the University of Chicago; Sarah Pearsall, lecturer at Oxford Brookes University and recipient of the Mellon/National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship at the Newberry Library; and Scott Stevens, Director of the Newberry’s D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies. Presented in partnership with the Newberry Library. Rare primary materials from the Newberry Library collection will be on display. Staged Reading Tuesday, October 12, 6:00 – 7:15 p.m. Harold Washington Library Center Cindy Pritzker Auditorium 400 S. State St. Join actors from the Steppenwolf Theatre Company ensemble for readings from A Mercy. Bringing Morrison’s lyric prose to life, these readings focus on the journeys— physical, emotional, and spiritual—of the novel’s women, all braving life in early America. Martha Lavey, Artistic Director of Steppenwolf, leads a talk-back with the actors and the audience after the performance.



OBOC Keynote Lecture

Portrait by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

TONI MORRISON Tuesday, October 19, 7:00 p.m. Presented by the Chicago Public Library and the McCormick Foundation Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center 220 S. Michigan Ave. Professor Morrison gives a talk about her life, her work, and A Mercy. Join us at this very special program with an American icon. This event does not include a book signing. Limit eight tickets per person. For tickets: Go to the Symphony Center box office, 220 S. Michigan, in person, where tickets are distributed FREE OF CHARGE; or Visit ($5 handling charge per order); or Call (312) 294-3000 ($5 handling charge per ticket) Unless the event is sold out, tickets will be available online or by phone until 3:00 p.m. and for walk-up until 6:00 p.m. on October 19. Any tickets ordered by phone or web after October 5 will not be mailed, but must be picked up at will call at the Symphony Center box office.


Toni Morrison as Storyteller Thursday, October 14, 6:00 p.m. John R. Cortelyou Commons Building 2324 N. Fremont St. Chicago scholars and writers Deborah Holton, Haki Madhubuti, Francesca Royster, Philip Royster and Ann Stanford explore Toni Morrison’s distinctive voice from the perspectives of performance, poetry, and pedagogy. As a novel that features stream-of-consciousness narratives and writing that revels in its lyricism as well as its narrative arc, A Mercy provides an extraordinary opportunity to explore the dynamics of identity, literacy, and art both on the page and on the stage. Sponsored by DePaul University’s Department of English

Film Screening: Beloved Saturday, October 16, 12:30 – 4:00 p.m. Woodson Regional Library 9525 S. Halsted St. This 1998 adaptation of Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was directed by Jonathan Demme, starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover. Set after the Civil War, this psychological and fantastic drama tells the story of an ex-slave dealing with her past decision to kill her child so that she will not become a slave herself. Join Francesca Royster after the screening for a discussion of the film, the book, and where Beloved and A Mercy dovetail in theme and story. Royster is Director of African and Black Diaspora Studies at DePaul University. Film running time: 172 minutes Film Screening and Panel Discussion: The Black List,Vol. 1 Monday, October 18 Film: 6:00 - 7:30 p.m. Panel: 7:30 - 8:30 p.m. DePaul University Student Center, Rm. 120A 2250 N. Sheffield Ave. The Black List, directed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders with interviews by Elvis Mitchell, features prominent African Americans—Toni Morrison, Bill T. Jones, Susan Lori-Parks, Colin Powell, and Chris Rock among them—talking about struggle, success and inspiration. Following the film screening and a brief break, join an insightful panel discussion on race in America—with focus on family life, education, and culture—featuring Francesca Royster, Director of African and Black Diaspora Studies at DePaul University; David Stovall, Associate Professor of Education Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago; and others. Sponsored in part by DePaul University’s Department of English

Film Screening: Traces of the Trade: a Story From the Deep North Monday, October 25, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. John R. Cortelyou Commons Building 2324 N. Fremont St. In this compelling documentary, an official selection of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, filmmaker Katrina Browne explores the history and the “living consequences” of one of our nation’s most shameful episodes—slavery. Traces of the Trade is an important historical corrective to America’s view of slavery and its repercussions, and a probing essay into divergent versions of the past that continue to divide black and white in America, North and South. After the film, Francesca Royster, Director of African and Black Diaspora Studies and Associate Professor of English at DePaul, leads a discussion of the issues the film presents. Film running time: 86 minutes; Sponsored by DePaul University’s Department of English Cross Racial Alliance and the Turning Point of Slavery in A Mercy Wednesday, October 27, 6:00 p.m. John R. Cortelyou Commons Building 2324 N. Fremont St. Scholars of U.S. Culture and History Sharon Holland, Thomas Foster, Francesca Royster and John Shanahan explore the unexpected fluidity of interpersonal relationships across race and class in colonial America. Morrison’s novel represents a wide range of alliances between white indentured servants and free blacks, between enslaved and free blacks, between Native Americans and blacks, between mistresses and servants, and between hetero and non-heteronormative men. How do these relationships challenge our assumptions about traditional categories of identity and difference? What are the points of shared stakes and tension between groups? How and why did such tenuous communities change? Sponsored by DePaul University’s Department of English



DEPAUL UNIVERSITY COURSE Imperfect Community: Toni Morrison’s Vision of Social Engagement DePaul University’s Department of English offers a course dedicated to exploring literary facets of the city’s One Book, One Chicago selection. In fall 2010, English 378: “Literature and Social Engagement – Imperfect Community: Toni Morrison’s Vision of Social Engagement” is taught by Francesca Royster, Director of African and Black Diaspora Studies and Associate Professor of English. In this class, students explore Toni Morrison’s development and return to the ideals of community and social engagement in the context of racial history, personal violence, desire, spirituality and economic struggle in A Mercy, Sula, Song of Solomon, Beloved, Paradise and in some of the author’s non-fiction essays. Students consider some of the following questions: how does literacy, its absence or presence provide a means of connection? How do characters see themselves as citizens of a larger social world, as well as part of the localized black communities? What role do family connections (blood and found) serve to mediate and/or complicate one’s place in a community? This ten-week course meets Mondays and Wednesdays, from 11:20 a.m. - 12:50 p.m., beginning September 8, 2010. Sponsored by DePaul University’s Department of English, this is a paid tuition-based course. For more information go to or call (773) 325-7485.

~ 10 ~

PROGRAMS FOR TEENS YOUmedia Open Studio Days Fridays, September 10, 17 and 24 and October 1, 8 and 15; 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. Harold Washington Library Center YOUmedia 400 S. State St., 1st fl. What ideas intrigue or inspire you about A Mercy and Toni Morrison? Chicago Public Library teens are invited to speak their minds in YOUmedia. Bring your family and create family history interviews to explore the windows through time, sing a spiritual or act out a scene from a period of our history. Use the question prompts and video recording equipment provided. Teen Literary Showcase Thursday, October 21, 6:00 p.m.; doors open at 5:30 p.m. Harold Washington Library Center Cindy Pritzker Auditorium 400 S. State St. Experience how One Book, One Chicago has inspired teens all over Chicago to create original design, artwork, music, spoken word, performance and videos. This free showcase event for teens, parents and educators feasts your eyes and ears with literary excitement. For more information, or to reserve seats for groups of ten or more, please contact

she takes you on a journey of her personal trials and tribulations in beginning a successful business venture. As owner of Sensual Steps Shoe Salon and Founder of P.U.M.P.S. (Providing U Motivation to Pursue Success), she provides the motivation to build your finances, your dream business and take your life on an unstoppable road to success. This Money Smart Program for teens, parents and teachers is one of many free financial literacy programs made possible through a partnership with members of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Money Smart Week Planning Committee. Teen Volume Book Discussion Thursday, October 28, 4:00 p.m. Harold Washington Library Center YOUmedia 400 S. State St., 1st fl. Teens in high school are invited to join a lively discussion and engaging activities related to themes from Toni Morrison’s A Mercy.

Nicole Jones: Dare To Walk In Her Shoes Wednesday, October 20, 5:30 p.m. Woodson Regional Library 9525 S. Halsted St. In A Mercy, much is made of Florens’ unlikely “vice for shoes.” Chicago Public Library invites teens and adults, ages 13 and up, to meet Nicole Jones, “the Shoe Professa” and nationally known marketing guru and lecturer, as

~ 11 ~

Attend a discussion of A Mercy at your local Chicago Public Library location. Discussions are listed chronologically and are free and open to the public. No reservations required.

Saturday, October 16, 10:00 a.m. Roosevelt Branch 1101 W. Taylor St. (312) 746-5656 Saturday, October 16, 11:00 a.m. Back of the Yards Branch 4650 S. Damen Ave. (312) 747-8367

Saturday, October 2, 11:00 a.m. Humboldt Park Branch 1605 N. Troy Ave. (312) 744-2244

Monday, October 11, 6:30 p.m. Clearing Branch 6423 W. 65th Pl. (312) 747-5657

Saturday, October 2, 3:00 p.m. Rogers Park Branch 6907 N. Clark St. (312) 744-0156

Monday, October 11, 7:00 p.m. Oriole Park Branch 7454 W. Balmoral Ave. (312) 744-1965

Monday, October 4, 6:45 p.m. McKinley Park Branch 1915 W. 35th St. (312) 747-6082

Tuesday, October 12, 6:30 p.m. Independence Branch 3548 W. Irving Park Rd. (312) 744-0900

Wednesday, October 6, 6:30 p.m. Wrightwood-Ashburn Branch 8530 S. Kedzie Ave. (312) 747-2696

Wednesday, October 13, 2:00 p.m.

Beverly Branch 1962 W. 95th St. (312) 747-9673

Saturday, October 16, 11:00 a.m. Harold Washington Library Center Literature & World Language 400 S. State St., 3rd fl., Rm. 3N-6 (312) 747-4700

Thursday, October 7, 6:00 p.m. Walker Branch 11071 S. Hoyne Ave. (312) 747-1920

Wednesday, October 13, 6:30 p.m. Archer Heights Branch 5055 S. Archer Ave. (312) 747-9241

Saturday, October 16, 1:00 p.m. Blackstone Branch 4904 S. Lake Park Ave. (312) 747-0511

Thursday, October 7, 6:30 p.m. Albany Park Branch 5150 N. Kimball Ave. (312) 744-1933

Wednesday, October 13, 6:00 p.m. Avalon Branch 8148 S. Stony Island Ave. (312) 747-5234

Saturday, October 16, 1:00 p.m. Uptown Branch 929 W. Buena Ave. (312) 744-8400

Tuesday, October 8, 6:30 p.m. Lincoln Park Branch 1150 W. Fullerton Ave. (312) 744-1926

Wednesday, October 13, 7:00 p.m. Sulzer Regional Library 4455 N. Lincoln Ave. (312) 744-7616

Saturday, October 16, 1:30 p.m. Mayfair Branch 4400 W. Lawrence Ave. (312) 744-1254

Saturday, October 9, 11:00 a.m. Near North Branch 310 W. Division St. (312) 744-0991

Wednesday, October 13, 6:00 p.m. Sherman Park Branch 5440 S. Racine Ave. (312) 747-0477

Saturday, October 16, 2:00 p.m. Legler Branch 115 S. Pulaski Rd. (312) 746-7730

Monday, October 11, 11:00 a.m. Mount Greenwood Branch 11010 S. Kedzie Ave. (312) 747-2805

Thursday, October 14, 7:00 p.m. Hegewisch Branch 3048 E. 130th St. (312) 747-0046

Saturday, October 16, 2:00 p.m. South Shore Branch 2505 E. 73rd St. (312) 747-5281

Monday, October 11, 1:00 p.m. Near North Branch 310 W. Division St. (312) 744-0991

Friday, October 15, 10:00 a.m. Brighton Park Branch 4314 S. Archer Ave. (312) 747-0666

Saturday, October 16, 3:00 p.m. Merlo Branch 644 W. Belmont Ave. (312) 744-1139

~ 12 ~

Saturday, October 16, 11:00 a.m. Bucktown-Wicker Park Branch 1701 N. Milwaukee Ave. (312) 744-6022 Saturday, October 16, 11:00 a.m. Budlong Woods Branch 5630 N. Lincoln Ave. (312) 742-9590

Monday, October 18, 1:00 p.m. Vodak-East Side Branch 3710 E. 106th St. (312) 747-5500 Monday, October 18, 3:00 p.m. Jeffery Manor Branch 2401 E. 100th St. (312) 747-6479 Monday, October 18, 6:30 p.m. North Austin Branch 5724 W. North Ave. (312) 746-4233


Tuesday, October 19, 6:00 p.m. West Chicago Avenue Branch 4856 W. Chicago Ave. (312) 743-0260 Tuesday, October 19, 6:30 p.m. Jefferson Park Branch 5363 W. Lawrence Ave. (312) 744-1998

Thursday, October 21, 6:30 p.m. Garfield Ridge Branch 6348 S. Archer Ave. (312) 747-6094

Tuesday, October 26, 6:30 p.m. Roden Branch 6083 N. Northwest Hwy. (312) 744-1478

Tuesday, October 19, 6:30 p.m. Lincoln Belmont Branch 1659 W. Melrose St. (312) 744-0166

Saturday, October 23, 10:30 a.m. King Branch 3436 S. King Dr. (312) 747-7543

Tuesday, October 26, 6:30 p.m. West Belmont Branch 3104 N. Narragansett Ave. (312) 746-5142

Wednesday, October 20, 2:00 p.m. Northtown Branch 6435 N. California Ave. (312) 744-2292

Saturday, October 23, 10:30 a.m. Thurgood Marshall Branch 7506 S. Racine Ave. (312) 747-5927

Wednesday, October 27, 6:30 p.m. Edgebrook Branch 5331 W. Devon Ave. (312) 744-8313

Wednesday, October 20, 6:30 p.m. Austin-Irving Branch 6100 W. Irving Park Rd. (312) 744-6222

Saturday, October 23, 11:00 a.m. Brainerd Branch 1350 W. 89th St. (312) 747-6291

Thursday, October 28, 12:00 p.m. Harold Washington Library Center Talking Book Center 400 S. State St., 5th fl., Rm. 5N (312) 747-1606

Wednesday, October 20, 6:30 p.m. Mabel Manning Branch 6 S. Hoyne Ave. (312) 746-6800

Tuesday, October 26, 1:00 p.m. Whitney M.Young Jr. Branch 7901 S. King Dr. (312) 747-0039

Wednesday, October 20, 6:45 p.m. West Pullman Branch 830 W. 119th St. (312) 747-1425

Tuesday, October 26, 3:00 p.m. Pullman Branch 11001 S. Indiana Ave. (312) 747-2033

Wednesday, October 20, 7:00 p.m. Woodson Regional Library 9525 S. Halsted St. (312) 747-6921

Tuesday, October 26, 6:00 p.m. Hall Branch 4801 S. Michigan Ave. (312) 747-2541

Thursday, October 21, 6:00 p.m. Kelly Branch 6151 S. Normal Ave. (312) 747-8418

Tuesday, October 26, 6:00 p.m. Lozano Branch 1805 S. Loomis St. (312) 746-4329

Thursday, October 28, 6:00 p.m. Edgewater Branch 1210 W. Elmdale Ave. (312) 747-0718 Thursday, October 28, 6:30 p.m. Scottsdale Branch 4101 W. 79th St. (312) 747-0193

~ 13 ~

BOOK DISCUSSIONS OUTSIDE CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY Wednesday, October 6, 2:00 - 3:30 p.m. Loyola University Chicago Water Tower Campus Corboy Law Center, Conference Room 713 25 E. Pearson St. (773) 508-2674 Friday, October 15, 7:00 p.m. The Book Cellar Presented by the Great Books Foundation 4736-38 N. Lincoln Ave. (773) 293-BOOK

Tuesday, October 26, 7:00 p.m. Barnes & Noble Old Orchard Presented by the Great Books Foundation 55 Old Orchard Center, Skokie (847) 676-2230 Wednesday, October 27, 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. Literacy Chicago 17 N. State St., Suite 1010 (312) 870-1100 Thursday, October 28, 7:00 p.m. Gerber/Hart Library 1127 W. Granville Ave. (773) 381-8030

Thursday, October 21, 2:00 p.m. Harold Washington College 30 East Lake St., Rm. 203 (312) 553-5883 Thursday, October 21, 7:00 p.m. Wright College Library Lounge 4300 N. Narragansett Ave. (773) 481-8400

te bag filled with to check out a to rd ca y ar br Li c Publi your book club. Use your Chicago guides and tips for rce .org ou res , cy er M online at chipublib eight copies of A by placing a hold le lab ai av is g Ba Book Club in a g locations: or at the followin St. h, 1962 W. 95th Beverly Branc ke Park Ave. La S. ranch, 4904 B e on st ck la B Center, ngton Library 1st fl. Harold Washi 400 S. State St., Popular Library, k St. lar C . N Branch, 6907 Lincoln Ave. . Rogers Park N 55 44 nal Library, io eg R er . Chicago Ave. lz W Su ranch, 4856 B . ve A go ca S. Halsted St. West Chi l Library, 9525 na io eg R on Woods 7-8191. se call (312) 74 For details, plea

~ 14 ~


ssion Discu tions Ques

All of the characters on the Vaark farm are, in their own way, orphans. What was Morrison’s point, do you think, in making that explicit parallel between them all?


Why is Lina so distrustful of the blacksmith, a free black man? Is she correct in her suspicion or is his free status what starts the wheels in motion for the tragedy that befalls the group?


Sorrow becomes “Complete” after the birth of her child. Discuss the role of motherhood in these characters lives, and how it affects their decisions.

4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Sorrow believes that her first child may have been alive when Lina placed it in the river. Could this be true? What are the implications? Also discuss why Lina distrusts and ostracizes Sorrow, and if she is justified. Florens tries to interpret “signs” from the natural world all around her. From where does she develop these superstitious beliefs? How do they serve her in navigating the colonial world and her young adulthood? What does the blacksmith mean, that Florens has “become” a slave? What do you think of the free blacksmith and his treatment of the 16 year old Florens? Thinking about all of the characters of A Mercy and the time and place in which they live—the early American wilderness—what drives them most? Economics? Love? Duty? Faith? Survival? Discuss the role that religion plays in the lives of these characters, and how that role reflects the larger importance of organized religion in colonial America. What is the “mercy” to which “a minha mãe” alludes in the last chapter? Is there a lesson in her final exclamation, that “to give dominion of yourself to another is a wicked thing”? In the end, is Florens better off with Sir, rather than staying with her mother and Senhor? What did Florens’ mother fear when she was faced with the options of keeping her in Maryland or sending her with Jacob Vaark? Or does she still lose dominion over herself, as her mother feared?

~ 15 ~


!"#$%&&'($)*&+$ #,($(-*#,.'$'&"%/$ #,(0$12'1'#(3$&2$ 4"*5,-'($&)$1#'$ '&1%/$-23$%16($-%%$ &*4,-2'$#,(0$7(*($ 12'-#1-8%(9$$:49$;<

Florens – Born into slavery in the Province of Maryland (c. 1674) and sold to Jacob Vaark at the age of eight, Florens is approximately 16 years old when she begins her “confession” to an unnamed blacksmith in the year 1690. The first chapter, and every other chapter thereafter (beginning on pages 3, 42, 79, 119, 159, and 184) are written from her point of view, addressing the blacksmith. Jacob Vaark – A free white man, born in England to a mother who died in childbirth, disowned by his Dutch father, and raised in a Protestant orphanage,Vaark first comes to the New World as an agent of The Dutch West India Company trading fur and lumber, but turns to farming (and, later, the rum trade) after he inherits 120 acres of land in the Northeast from an uncle. The second chapter (beginning on page 10) is written from his point of view in 1682, eight years prior to the other chapters. Lina – A Native American woman, raised by European colonists after her childhood village is wiped out by smallpox. At the age of 14, Lina, who is technically free but has no substantial legal rights in the colonial governments, and no tribe to return to, becomes the first servant on Vaark’s new farm; her labor and memory of Native American farming techniques are crucial in making the farm productive.The fourth chapter

~ 16 ~

(beginning on page 50) is written from her point of view in 1690. Rebekka – A free white woman, born (c. 1660) the only daughter to a family of eight in a one-room garret in filthy, crowded, lower-class London during the contentious days of the English Restoration, Rebekka would have survived the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London before coming to the New World at the age of 16 to become the wife of Jacob Vaark. The sixth chapter (beginning on page 84) is written from her point of view in 1690. Sorrow – A foundling, washed ashore from a shipwreck, discovered by a sawyer, named by his wife, and raised as a servant, Sorrow is only 11 years old when she is given to Jacob Vaark because she is pregnant. This first child is born premature, and does not survive. Curly-haired, grey-eyed, and described as “mongrelized” by the sawyer who sells her, Sorrow is most likely multi-racial. Mistrusted and ostracized by Lina, she contributes little to the farm over the years, and keeps many secrets to herself. She is stricken with smallpox when the blacksmith is working at the farm, and is nursed back to health by his folk remedies. She is pregnant again when Vaark and Rebekka contract the pox; the eighth chapter (beginning on page 137) is told from her point of view at this time. Willard and Scully – Two white male servants indentured (in a legal arrangement comparable to wage slavery) to a nearby landowner, and lent regularly to the Vaark farm as day labor in exchange for livestock grazing rights. Willard Bond, in his late 20s, should have been released from servitude at 21, but has had his debt “extended” repeatedly after one assault and occasional escape attempts. Scully is 22 and has been indentured since being orphaned at the age of 12; he still hopes to earn his freedom and buy a horse. The two

men live, work, and sleep together as a pair. The tenth chapter (beginning on page 168) is told from their mutual perspective. “A minha mãe” – Literally “my mother” in Portuguese, “a minha mãe” is the mother of Florens, born in a West African village and taken into chattel slavery after a war with a rival village. She is taken to Barbados, where she is purchased by the Portuguese Catholic Senhor D’Ortega to work on his tobacco plantation in the Province of Maryland.The final chapter (beginning on page 190) is told from her perspective, addressing Florens. Senhor D’Ortega - An aristocratic Portugese tobacco planter and slave dealer who owns and resides upon Jublio, the plantation in Maryland where Florens is conceived and born into slavery. D’Ortega, the third son of a Portuguese aristocrat, did not expect to inherit wealth or property, so instead went to Portugese-controlled Angola to make his fortune in the slave trade. He soon established Jublio in Maryland, a proprietary colony established in 1632 as a refuge for British Catholics, who had been persecuted throughout the English Reformation. It is D’Ortega who sells Florens to Jacob Vaark in order to settle a debt. The Anabaptists – A community of religious Baptist Separatists established about seven miles from the Vaark farm, including a deacon who has dealings with the Vaarks, and the landowner who lends out Willard and Scully.The Anabaptists (meaning “twice baptized”) practice the faith-based baptism of adults. Considered radical and heretical to the Catholic and Protestant tradition of infant baptism, Baptists were widely persecuted throughout Western Europe at the time, while Separatists included a wide range of religious dissidents who advocated a full separation from the Church of England and continued independence from the Roman Catholic Church.

~ 17 ~

HISTORICAL TIMELINE Life in America at the Time of A Mercy

A Mercy takes place in the late 17th Century, from 1682, when the narrator Florens is eight years old and is acquired by Jacob Vaark, to 1690, the year from which she narrates the novel at the age of 16.

1671 A bounty for Maroons (black fugitives who formed communities in the mountains and swamps) is passed in Virginia in response to attacks on local villages.

1621 Anthony Johnson is believed to be one of the first Africans to arrive in Virginia, where he works on a tobacco farm as either a slave or as an indentured servant (a servant contracted to work for a set amount of time). Johnson goes on to marry and buy his way out of bondage, becoming a landowner and raising livestock in first Virginia, then Maryland, until his death in 1670.

1673-74 Dutch forces occupy New York until the English regain control. The Treaty of Westminster states that residents of New York and New Sweden are now recognized as English subjects.

1670 A court in Virginia rules that because Anthony Johnson was “a Negro and by consequence an alien,” his land there rightfully belongs to the Crown.

~ 18 ~

1675-1676 Nathaniel Bacon leads fellow Virginians in a revolt against English rule because of dispute over the government’s Indian policy.

Bacon and his followers want to drive all Indians out of the colony, and find the government’s stance too lenient. Bacon’s Rebellion, supported by poor or enslaved blacks and whites, includes the invasion of an Occaneechee fort and the burning of Jamestown. The Rebellion causes fear in the ruling class of an alliance between poor whites and blacks, hastening the transition to racial slavery. 1676 In New England, King Philip’s War breaks

out when Metacom of the Wampanoag (known by the English as King Philip) protests Puritan policies that force many Natives from their lands. He convinces other tribes to join forces, attacking over 90 English settlements throughout the region. After a year, he is captured and executed, ending the attacks. Well-known Puritan Boston minister Increase Mather interprets the war as punishment from God for provoking evils such as tavern-going, travel on Sundays and pride in clothing. 1678 A year-long epidemic of small pox comes to an end in New England.

Nathaniel Bacon,

King Philip’s Wa


Outbreak of Smallpox

courtesy of the Lib

rary of Congress

1679 A Guide to Heaven by Samuel Hardy is published and becomes a colonial bestseller. Attacks on white settlers by Five Nations (Iroquois tribes) increase throughout the East. 1682 William Penn, an English Quaker, recruits Mennonites and Quakers from England and the Netherlands, founding Philadelphia. 1686 A diphtheria epidemic spreads through Virginia, one of many epidemics to hit the colonies during this time period, including malaria, small pox and yellow fever.

1688 The Society of Friends (Quakers) in Germantown, Pennsylvania, adopts the first formal anti-slavery resolution in America. The Quakers continue to protest slavery throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. 1690 The Connecticut slave codes forbid black and Indian servants from wandering away from town without a pass from their master or they will be deemed a runaway. 1691 Manumission—the freeing of slaves—is outlawed in Virginia. 1692 The infamous Salem witch trials begin. Of the 20 condemned, 18 are executed and two die in prison. 1698 The tax laws in Massachusetts are changed to declare that “all Indian, mulatto, and Negro servants be estimated as personal estate.”



~ ~ William Penn

1702 Cotton Mather, son of Increase, publishes an ecclesiastical history of America, Magnalia Christi Americana, and forms the “Society for the Suppression of Disorders” to keep a look out for “swearing, blaspheming and patronage of bawdy houses.” 1704 Ministers in Maryland can separate a man and woman if they disapprove of the match. If the man disobeys he can be tried and, if convicted, “can be fined, or whipped until blood begins to flow.” 1705 The Virginia slavery act states that all imported Negroes are slaves for life unless they are Christians. Furthermore, all black, Indian or mixed-race slaves are considered real estate, and no master will be held accountable for killing a slave as a result of punishment. This is a drastic change from the 17th century laws, which allowed a dispute between slave and master to be brought before the court.

1707 Redeemed Captive by John Williams is popular reading in the colonies and tells of his supposed capture by Indians. 1750 Slavery is legalized in Georgia, making it an institution in all 13 colonies. Sources: Champage, Duane, editor. Chronology of Native North American History: From Pre-Columbian Times to the Present. Detroit: Gale Research, 1994. Hornsby, Jr., Alton. Chronology of African American History: From 1492 to the present. Gale Research: Detroit, MI, 1997. Moretta, John A. William Penn and the Quaker Legacy. Pearson Longman: NY, 2007. Urdang, Laurence, editor. The Timetables of American History; with an introduction by Henry Steele Commager; and a new foreword by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001. Watts, Sheldon. Epidemics and History: Disease, Power and Imperialism. Yale University Press: New London, CT, 1997.

Massachusetts bans interracial marriages.

~ 21 ~

TIME C APSULE w 16 9 0


in the w orld

Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor

African slaves boi

ling sugarcane

! English philosopher John Locke publishes

! The British Fort of Mazagaon, located

! Sutanuti, modern day Kolkata (Calcutta),

! The first wave of the great Serbian

two of his most influential works: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Two Treatises of Government. is established as a trading post by the English East India Company.

! A massive outbreak of the measles epidemic occurs in Japan.

! The first Astronomer Royal of England,

John Flamsteed, records the earliest sighting of the planet Uranus. At the time, Flamsteed thinks the distant planet is a star and identifies it â&#x20AC;&#x153;34 Tarus.â&#x20AC;?

! German settlers in Germantown, Penn-

sylvania erect the first paper mill in North America.

! At Stellenbosch Cape Colony, South

Africa, a slave revolt erupts, but is quickly quelled by Dutch settlers.

! The Golden Age of Piracy begins. ! The Jamaican slave population reaches 40,000.

! Dutch traders smuggle coffee plants from the Arabian port of Mocha in Yemen. Gradually Muslim merchants lose their monopoly on the coffee trade.

! James II is defeated in Ireland by his

son-in-law and nephew William III of Orange. The defeat does not bring a close to the War of the Two Kings; however, it is a devastating blow to James II in his attempt to regain the British throne.

in modern day Mumbai, is razed at the order of Sidi Yakub, a Mughal marine of African descent. Migration occurs as the Habsburg army retreats from Serbia during the AustroTurkish War. The Serbs historically opposed the Ottoman Empire and fled Serbia because of fear of retribution from the Turks. Anrsenije III Carnojevic, the patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, encouraged his 60,000 member church to move north into Hungary to escape the advancing Turkish Army.

! South America, Central America, and

the Caribbean are dominated by sugar production and booming slave trade.

! Aja Kingdom, a West African Kingdom

located in modern day Benin, becomes the primary supplier of African slaves for the Atlantic slave trade.

! England becomes the leading trafficker of African slaves from 1690 until the 1807 Slave Trade Act is passed by Parliament, abolishing the slave trade in the British Empire.

! The clarinet is invented by Joann Christopher Denner, a German instrument maker.

! Japanese merchants trading in rice

receipts begin the first ever futures commodity trading.

! Joseph I, the eldest son of the Holy Ro-

man Emperor Leopold I, is elected King of the Romans (King of Germany) and officially becomes successor to Leopold I.

~ 23 ~

He believed we would love God more if we knew the letters to read by. I don’t know that. What I know is there is magic in learning. ~ “A MINHAE MÃE,” P. 191


! Austro-Turkish War (1683-1699): The

Ottoman Empire invades Hungary on March 2, 1683. Austria and Poland go to war with the Ottoman Empire, and with the help of Pope Innocent XI, ally with the Holy Roman Empire,Venice, and Moscow. The Ottoman Empire is defeated and Austria gains control of Hungary at the Treaty of Karlowitz on January 26, 1699.

! War of the Grand Alliance (1688-1697):

France’s Louis XIV’s territorial aggression and involvement with the Jacobites in England, Scotland, and Ireland lead to a defensive alliance of England, the Austrian Habsburgs, and eventually, Savoy, Sweden, Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire. In the end, France surrenders all territories gained since 1678, and recognizes William III as King of England.

! In North America the War of the Grand Alliance extends and becomes known as King William’s War.

~ 24 ~

! Irish War of 1689-1691: King James II

calls upon Ireland to help restore himself to the English throne following the Glorious Revolution of 1688. With the backing of Louis XIV, James II lands in Ireland with the intention of striking the Protestant stronghold of Londonderry. William III lands in Ireland in 1690 and defeats James II at the Battle of the Boyne.

! The Dzgungar Empire, the last

nomadic empire in Asia, attempts to invade Khalkha in Outer Mongolia, but is defeated by the Chinese army.

Sources Figueredo, D. H., and Frank Argote-Freyre. “Industry and slavery in the Caribbean.” A Brief History of the Caribbean, Brief History. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2008. Modern World History Online, Facts On File, Inc. Fotic´, Aleksandar. “Serbia and the Ottoman Empire.” In Ágoston, Gábor, and Bruce Masters, eds. Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2009. Modern World History Online, Facts On File, Inc.

Kohn, George Childs. Dictionary of Wars. Facts on File, Inc.: New York, 1999. Kohn, George Childs. “Japanese measles epidemic of 1690–1691.” Encyclopedia of Plague and Pestilence, Third Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc. Modern World History Online. Keay, John. India: A Concise History. Atlantic Monthly Press: New York, 2000. O’Brien, Patrick K., gen. ed. “Rozwi Empire.” Encyclopedia of World History. Copyright George Philip Limited. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2000. Modern World History Online. Facts On File, Inc.

Todd, Deborah, and Joseph A. Angelo Jr. “Bode, Johann Elert.” A to Z of Scientists in Space and Astronomy. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2005. (Updated 2006.) Science Online. Facts On File, Inc. Trager, James. The people’s chronology : a year-by year record of human events from prehistory to the present. New York : Holt, c1994. Williams, Neville. Chronology of World History: 1492-1775: The Expanding World, vol 2. ABC_ CLIO, Inc.: Santa Barbara, 1999.

Rodriguez, Junius P. Chronology of world slavery. Santa Barbara, Calif : ABC-CLIO, 1999. Teeple, John B., Timelines of World History. DK Publishing: New York: 2002.

~ 25 ~

A map of all the World in two hemispheres, 1678. Š 2006 Yale University Library


Additional online resources are available in the HTML Resource Guide on the Chicago Public Library website:

RECOMMENDED FICTION A Mercy is a complex novel with many thematic strains.These titles explore many of the same themes, and will be enjoyed by readers of Morrison’s novel. Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende Zarité is a nine-year-old girl who is sold as a slave in 18th century Santo Domingo. This sweeping novel follows her and other slaves over 40 years, telling the story of their exploitation and the miserable conditions of their lives. Zarité is determined to find love amid loss and prevails despite the cruelest of circumstances. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather This classic novel tells the story of a Swedish immigrant family at the turn of the 20th century struggling to save their Nebraska farm. Alexandra Bergson must assume responsibility for the farm and family after her father’s death. At a time when many immigrant families are leaving the prairie, Bergson perseveres and turns the farm into a successful enterprise. I,Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Maryse Condé The life of Tituba, the historical figure best-known from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, is retold through the African tradition of oral history. A Barbadian slave, Tituba uses the African art of healing and spiritual communication taught to her by the old

~ 28 ~

woman who raised her, but when her healing powers are misunderstood by the Puritans, she is branded as a witch and arrested in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper In this classic historical novel, Natty Bumppo and his loyal Mohican friends Chingachgook and Uncas become embroiled in the bloody battles of the French and Indian War. The wilds of the American frontier are brought to life in this precursor to the Western genre. The Living by Annie Dillard Frontier life in the Pacific Northwest during the second half of the 19th century is explored in this mixed story of racism, generosity, and optimism in the face of adversity. When Native Americans help two struggling pioneer families survive, the behavior and attitudes of both groups change. Love Medicine by Louis Erdrich When June Kashpaw, a middle-aged Chippewa woman, freezes to death following a snow storm, her memory is relayed through interwoven narratives. As the story moves backwards and forward between the 1930s and the present, bonds of love and family are explored through different perspectives. What results is a complicated but insightful look at contemporary Native American life on a North Dakota reservation. Middle Passage by Charles Johnson Winner of the 1990 National Book Award, this riveting tale introduces Rutherford Calhoun, a freed and educated slave living in New Orleans in 1830. When Calhoun accidentally boards a slave ship bound for Africa, he finds himself staging a revolt with the captured African slaves.

Song Yet Sung by James McBride Runaway slave Liz Spocott is injured and near death as she begins to have visions of the future. Despite escaping from legendary slave catcher Patty Cannon after staging a revolt, and learning “The Code” that guides runaways to the Underground Railroad, Liz’s visions force her to question what the future holds for descendants of slaves seeking freedom. Testimony of an Irish Slave Girl by Kate McCafferty More than 50,000 Irish were sold as indentured servants to Caribbean plantation owners and worked the land alongside African slaves. This little-known history is chronicled through the story of Cot Daley, a young girl kidnapped from her home in Galway, Ireland, and sent to Barbados in 1651. Cot tells her story to a British doctor from jail, after her participation in a brave, but unsuccessful revolt leaves her incarcerated. Cane River by Lalita Tademy This epic novel is based on the lives of four generations of African American women from Tademy’s own family, flowing from slavery through the Civil War and then into preCivil Rights South. Tademy abandoned a career as a high-powered executive to research her roots and write this riveting novel. Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker The lives and past lives of interrelated characters are explored in this complex novel about the black experience, ranging in time from pre-colonial Africa to contemporary America. Walker introduces a lively set of characters —Lissie, a woman with a thousand pasts; Arveyda, a guitarist who lives in exile with his Latin American wife; Suwelo, the history professor; and his former wife Fanny who has fallen in love with spirits.

~ 29 ~

RECOMMENDED HISTORY TITLES Alongside the beautiful prose of Toni Morrison’s fiction is often an accurate and enlightening use of history. To learn more about the time, place and people of A Mercy, pick up one of these titles. Many Thousands Gone:The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America by Ira Berlin This seminal work from Berlin—considered one of the foremost historians of slavery in early America—presents an in-depth look at two centuries of slavery. Spanning from 1619 to the 1820s when the idea of emancipation started to gain in popularity, Berlin’s book provides details on the many divisions and

definitions within the institution of slavery at the time, proving how the complexities from this era still resonate today. Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia by Kathleen M. Brown Brown uses the perspective of gender to explore the origins of racism and slavery in colonial Virginia from 1676 to the 18th century. “Myne owne ground”: Race and Freedom on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, 1640-1676 by T. H. Breen and Stephen Innes Focusing on a thriving community of former slaves, now free black men and women on Virginia’s eastern shore, this important history provides insight into how the land was settled before many of the slave laws of the late 17th and early 18th century were established. Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England by William Cronon Leading environmental historian Cronon looks at New England’s plant and animal communities at the time of the early American settlers, and explores how the flora and fauna were altered when the land changed hands from Indian to European dominance. American Slavery, American Freedom:The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia by Edmund S. Morgan Morgan explores how Virginia, the largest slaveholding state, exemplified the paradoxes of early America, in that freedom relied on slavery. Red, White, and Black:The Peoples of Early North America by Gary B. Nash Acclaimed historian Nash presents an interpretation of the relationships between Native

~ 30 ~

Americans, African Americans, and European Americans during the colonial and revolutionary eras, across all levels of society. Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America by Daniel K. Richter Richter takes on the Native American perspective of the early American settlers until 1775, challenging assumptions from more common historical accounts. Saltwater Slavery: A Middle Passage from Africa to American Diaspora by Stephanie E. Smallwood Smallwood provides a graphic examination of the slave trade as an everyday, albeit horrific, fact of the economy at the time of early America. This account uses letters and other narratives to describe the Middle Passage from the slave’s perspective. American Colonies by Alan Taylor Taylor’s much-read history takes an in-depth look at life in the American colonies with a focus on the many cultures—European, African, Native American—that came together in that time and place. 1676, The End of American Independence by Stephen Saunders Webb Focusing on a year in which Indian insurrections rocked white settler communities, and civil war in the colonies came to a head with King Philip’s War and Bacon’s Rebellion, Webb explores how this difficult period defined the relationships between settlers, imperialists and Algonquin and Iroquois tribes.

Downloadable Media: Africans in America: Part 1,The Terrible Transformation (1450-1750) Part one of four, this remarkable PBS documentary can be downloaded with a Chicago Public Library card. The film recounts the forced migration of slaves from Africa and the reliance on the slave trade by colonialists. Europeans grow to depend on this free labor to create their economy, their culture, and more, but their successes come with a fear of this growing population.

TREMENDOUS TALES FOR KIDS Together with her son, the artist and author Slade Morrison, Toni Morrison has re-imagined many familiar tales of love and family for all generations. The Big Box Illustrated by Giselle Potter The Book of Mean People Illustrated by Pascal Lemaître Little Cloud and Lady Wind Illustrated by Sean Qualls Peeny Butter Fudge Illustrated by Joe Cepeda The Tortoise or the Hare Illustrated by Joe Cepeda

Strange New Land: African Americans 16171776 by Peter Wood Wood’s important history looks at the lives of Africans and African Americans in the American colonies, from the earliest arrivals on Spanish trade ships to the Revolution.

~ 31 ~


ILLUMINATING READS FOR TEENS The experience of slavery is a significant and impelling force behind much of the most powerful works of literature in human history, and these suggested titles—fiction and nonfiction— impart wisdom, pain, inspiration and hope. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing,Traitor to the Nation: Volume 1, The Pox Party and Volume 2,The Kingdom on the Waves by M. T. Anderson Octavian is a slave at the Novalian College of Lucidity in pre-revolutionary Boston where he realizes that he has been part of an experiment ever since he was born. Bound for America:The Forced Migration of Africans to the New World by James Haskins and Kathleen Benson, illustrated by Floyd Cooper With copious primary sources, both textual and visual, this compelling work provides an overview of hundreds of years of horror. Building a New Land: African Americans in Colonial America by James Haskins and Kathleen Benson, illustrated by James E. Ransome This introduction to the plights of African American slaves from 1607-1763 and their struggle to resist oppression and maintain rich cultural traditions in the face of devastating difficulties, is part of the “From African Beginnings” series.

~ 32 ~

The Captive by Joyce Hansen Based on a found journal from the 1700s, this novel tells of young Kofi, son of an Ashanti chief, who was brought to New England and finds a connection with the African American Quaker and abolitionist Paul Cuffe. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson As the Revolutionary War begins, Isabel, a 13-year-old African American slave, is determined to win freedom for herself and her younger sister, no matter what it takes. Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue by Julius Lester Based on a true story about the largest auction of slaves in America’s history, this novel tells many stories at once: those of slaves, masters and mistresses, buyers, auctioneers; all witnesses to a most terrible piece of our past. I Saw Your Face by Kwame Dawes, illustrated by Tom Feelings As a commemoration of the worldwide African Diaspora, the work of poet Dawes and artist Feelings are brought together and conclude that “we have traveled far / And survived the journeys well.” Many Thousand Gone: African Americans from Slavery to Freedom by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon Many stories emanating from slavery and resistance in America from the 1600s through the 1800s are collected and retold by this esteemed author. The Middle Passage:White Ships/Black Cargo by Tom Feelings The many souls that suffered on the transatlantic journey from home to enslavement are honored by this cathartic and brilliant visual creation.

Now is Your Time!:The African American Struggle for Freedom by Walter Dean Myers Myers is the first winner of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement for his “body of work [which] offers a mirror, validating lives of young people whose varied existence remains in the shadows virtually invisible to the larger world.” The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon This classic collection of retold African American folktales tells of “animals, fantasy, the supernatural, and desire for freedom, born of the sorrow of the slaves, but passed on in hope.” Remember: The Journey to School Integration by Toni Morrison More than 50 striking photographs depicting the struggle against segregation in American education are insightfully and imaginatively captioned by Morrison. Soul Looks Back in Wonder edited by Tom Feelings Thirteen poets, from Langston Hughes to Maya Angelou, come together to respond to spellbinding images depicting the creativity to be found in African roots and American culture. To Be a Slave by Julius Lester, illustrated by Tom Feelings This mesmerizing compilation brings together, from different times and places, experiences of slaves and ex-slaves told in their own words.

~ 33 ~


One Book, One Chicago Fall 2010

Sponsors !

City of Chicago ley, Mayor Richard M. Da

Partners !


EVALUATION Which of the following represents your age bracket? 14-18





56 and up

How did you hear about the One Book, One Chicago (OBOC) program? (Check all that apply.) Chicago Public Library (branch name: ___________________________________________ ) Cultural or educational institution other than CPL: __________________________________ TV/Radio/Magazine/Newspaper: _______________________________________________ Bookstore: __________________________________________________________________ CPL email or web site Facebook / Twitter Other:____________________________ Have you participated in One Book, One Chicago before?



If yes, how frequently have you participated previously? (This is the 19th OBOC selection.) Less than five times 5-10 times 11-15 times more than 15 times Do you plan to participate again? Yes No It depends on the book chosen. How did you participate this fall? (Check all that apply.) Attended a book discussion group (if so, where? ____________________________________ ) Attended a public program (if so, where?__________________________________________ ) Read the book Other: ____________________________________________________ Share your thoughts on the selection of A Mercy for OBOC: ____________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ After reading A Mercy and participating in OBOC, would you like to read more books from the recommended reading list included here or other books on these themes? Yes No Please provide your email address if you would like to hear about future OBOC or Library programming: _________________________________________________________________ Please provide your name and mailing address to be included in a drawing to receive a free copy of the next OBOC: _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________

Win a Free Book

Completed forms will be entered into a drawing for a free copy of the Spring 2011 OBOC selection.

Chicago Public Library ATTN: Adult Services 400 South State Street Chicago, Illinois 60605

Place Stamp Here

A Mercy (One Book, One Chicago)  

Guide for CPL One book One Chicago fall Selection

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you