Thursday, March 11, 2010

Author Heidi Durrow Talks Race and Identity On NPR

Hear an interview with Heidi Durrow from NPR's All Things Considered. She was discussing her book The Girl Who Fell From The Sky, winner of the Bellwether Prize for Fiction. It's a story about human tragedy and the struggles related to race and racial identity (something that I wrestle with and can therefore relate to). Durrow creatively uses fiction to address serious social issues. She was able to highlight & challenge false ideas about what it means to be Black and what it means to be White in American society, even though the point of the story was to paint a picture of life for a mixed girl.
She doesn't accept the label of Tragic Mulatto for this story because it has so much more to say than that. In fact, it could be seen as the opposite of the Tragic Mulatto, because in the end..... well.. to find out what happens you will have to buy the book.

The book has subtle (maybe not so subtle) reflections of Durrow's own life interwoven throughout the plot, although she once vehemently stated that it's not really about her. However, if you have been listening to Durrow over the years (via her radio program) or have been following her blogs, you can pick up the similarities.

Reviews and Commentaries on the book:

Abagond Blog


Washington Post

Miami Herald

Christian Science Monitor

Book Named a Top 10 Debut Release for 2010 by Publishers Weekly.

“[An] insightful family saga of the toxicity of racism and the forging of the self . . . Durrow brings piercing authenticity to this provocative tale, winner of the Bellwether Prize for Fiction.”
—Booklist [starred review]

“[A] breathless telling of a tale we’ve never heard before. Haunting and lovely, pitch-perfect.”
—Barbara Kingsolver, author and founder of the Bellwether Prize

“The Girl Who Fell from the Sky can actually fly ... Its energy comes from its vividly realized characters, from how they perceive one another. Durrow has a terrific ear for dialogue, an ability to summon a wealth of hopes and fears in a single line.”
—New York Times Book Review

“Rachel’s voice resonated . . . in much the same way as did that of the young protagonist of The House on Mango Street. There’s an achingly honest quality to it; both wise and naive.”
—Shannon Rhodes, NPR

“Echoes of the early Toni Morrison, resonances with Langston Hughes. . . . A stunning debut.”
—George Hutchinson, author of In Search of Nella Larson

“That rare thing: a post-postmodern novel with heart that weaves a circle of stories about race and self-discovery into a tense and sometimes terrifying whole.”
—Ms. Magazine

“Taut prose, a controversial conclusion and the thoughtful reflection on racism and racial identity resonate . . . as the story succeeds as both a modern coming-of-age and relevant social commentary. ”
-Publishers Weekly

You can read more about Heidi Durrow and the book by visiting one of her many blogs or websites. Her main websites are, and You can also find her on a weekly internet radio program called Mixed Chicks Chat (see links on our sidebar).


rikyrah said...

PostBourgie did a review. Was not impressed with the book.

Heidi Durrow's The Girl Who Fell From the Sky.

The Angry Independent said...

I don't think she was writing this from a Black perspective or to satisfy Black readers per se. She seemed to be going for something broader.

I don't think it was intended to be a "Black" book. For some reason, people (a few at least) assumed that it would be a Black story.

Not surprising that folks who are fans of Black Lit wouldn't be happy with something that didn't exactly fit the mold.

Can't speak for the author...but based on what she has revealed over the years... I don't think she would see that as a bad thing.