Week of  Nov. 29 | Randall Kenan

I met Randall Kenan at the University of the South in July, 2004. We were both staying at Rebels Rest, a beautiful home that hosts many of the faculty of the Sewanee Writer's Conference. 

I had heard of Mr. Kenan, but had not read any of his work. I enjoyed our conversations and went down to the book store and bought his collection of stories LET THE DEAD BURY THEIR DEAD, published by Harcourt Brace in 1992. 

Terry McMillan writes on the cover, "Randall Kenan is a genius; our black Marquez. He weaves myth, folktales, magic, and reality like no one else I know, and he doesn't miss a beat." 

LET THE DEAD BURY THEIR DEAD was named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review.

Mr. Kenan was born in Brooklyn, raised in rural North Carolina, and is currently an associate professor of English at University of NC- Chapel Hill. His first novel A VISITATION OF SPIRITS was published in 1989, when Kenan was 26.

It was Mr. Kenan's third book WALKING ON WATER, published in 1999 that most impressed me. The book is subtitled 'Black American Lives at the turn of the Twenty-First Century'. Kenan spent six years traveling all over America, interviewing nearly two hundred African Americans from all walks of life. The results of his travels and interviews are grouped geographically. 

His goal was to find out what it was like to be African American at the turn of the twenty-first century in different parts of our country. He visits Martha's Vineyard; Bangor, Maine; Seattle, Washington; Salt Lake City, Utah; Anchorage, Alaska, and all parts in between. It is an amazing book that I highly recommend reading. Mr. Kenan comes up with ideas and opinions that are fascinating and relevant.

A VISITATION OF SPIRITS and LET THE DEAD BURY THEIR DEAD take place in the fictional town of Tims Creek. Mr. Kenan's next novel will be a return to Tims Creek. I believe Randall Kenan is one of our country's most interesting and compelling writers. I hope you agree.


Listen to Interview
with Randall Kenan
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