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Tayari Jones (born November 30, 1970) is an American novelist.
- When I first started writing, I was thinking of it as a book about mass incarceration, and mass incarceration is not a plot. It’s not a story. It’s not a character. I was at Harvard doing research on this subject, and I felt like I had a lot of information, but I had not yet found my story because I had to realize that I am a novelist. I’m not a sociologist. I’m not a documentarian. I’m not an ethnographer. And I found the story, actually, through eavesdropping…
- On how she chose the topic of mass incarceration for her novel An American Marriage in “If I Can’t Cry, Nobody Cries: An Interview with Tayari Jones” in The Paris Review (2018 Feb 8)
- There’s also very little room for diverse expressions of black female identity. There is a place in society for a black man who comes off as uneducated but street-smart. That is respected in a certain kind of way. And there’s also the Obama model of the black man who’s been to the Ivy League. There’s a lot of room. But I feel like with black women, when it comes to credibility, that respectability is crucial.
- On Black female identity in “If I Can’t Cry, Nobody Cries: An Interview with Tayari Jones” in The Paris Review (2018 Feb 8)
- All of these characters are trying to figure out the extent to which they are allowed to be self-interested in the face of this larger cultural crisis…In many ways, it is a question of modern African-American life. What is the balance between your desires and your responsibilities?...
- On how mass incarceration affects African Americans in “INTERVIEWS: Tayari Jones—One couple against the system” in Book Page (February 2018)
- I’ve always wanted to be a writer…And I have accepted that my niche is this quiet space. I’ve never been one of those writers who says writing is the hardest job in the world. Look at the jobs my grandparents had. Can I really say a job I’m able to do in my pajamas is the hardest job in the world? This is not a quiet title. And this is not a quiet story. I was a little intimidated by claiming this title for myself. But this novel caused me to challenge myself. I feel really good about it now.
- On accepting herself as a novelist in “INTERVIEWS: Tayari Jones—One couple against the system” in Book Page (February 2018)