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Check This Out: Ayana Mathis & 'The Unsettled'

You may know Ayana Mathis from her debut novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. Published 11 years ago, the excitement and noise around that debut took up all the space and energy Mathis had to write fiction.

Her new second novel is called The Unsettled. It’s a mother-daughter-son story that braids two narratives - one from the south and one from the north.

In the north, Mathis plunges her readers into the horrors of life at the cockroach infested Glenn Avenue family shelter in 1985 Philadelphia.

In the south, she takes us to the tiny town of Bonaparte Alabama which is a decaying mess but used to be a beacon of Black freedom and self-determination. She shows the fight to save that town from rapidly encroaching white developers. Her characters from both the north and the south are all drawn to the leader of a cult-like group modeled on the real life MOVE organization and the ending is just as tragic.


Check this Out features lively conversations with up and coming authors, and serves as a platform for diverse voices and stories to be heard. NHPR and The Howe Library are proud to be able to bring these conversations into your homes and headphones.

Rachel is a prolific writer and reviewer. Her work has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, the LA Review of Books, and more. She has been a scholar in residence at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis and her work has been supported by residencies at Ucross and Norton Island.
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