A monthly transatlantic conversation hosted by Tamara Crawford and Vina Orden about books, writing, identity, and representation, centered on marginalized voices and stories.
S2 E8 SABRINA & CORINA: Writing a Place for Oneself
In this episode, we discuss Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine; a collection which evokes a powerful sense of place in these stories set in Fajardo-Anstine's hometown of Denver & in southern Colorado, centering the lives of Latinas of Indigenous ancestry. Through the mostly working-class women characters, Fajardo-Anstine explores personal & collective histories; intergenerational trauma & resilience; issues of class, race, & queerness; feminism and sisterhood; & agency & transformation in spite of powerlessness & adversity.
S2.E7 ISLAND QUEEN: Bringing Hidden Histories to Light
In time for Black History Month in the UK, hosts Tamara Crawford and Vina Orden discuss Vanessa Riley’s epic historical fiction novel Island Queen. Island Queen is based on the life of historical figure Dorothy Kirwan Thomas, who was born enslaved in 1756, managed to free herself and her family, became a transnational entrepreneur, and rose to be among the most wealthy and politically powerful people in the Caribbean. Through Dorothy's personal story of love, loss, trauma, defiance, perseverance, survival, and legacy, readers also learn a larger history of Dutch, Spanish, French, and British colonialism in the West Indies; the resistance movements and revolts led by enslaved peoples in Haiti, Grenada, Barbados, and Jamaica throughout the 18th and 19th centuries; and the lesser-known story of free Black women in the Caribbean, some of whom were successful entrepreneurs like Dorothy.
S2. E6 THE MERMAID OF BLACK CONCH: Cultural Collisions / Convergence
The Lift Up is excited to be back after our brief summer break with Season 2, Episode 6, featuring Monique Roffey's genre-bending novel The Mermaid of Black Conch! On one level, The Mermaid of Black Conch is a story of an unlikely romance between an ancient Taino woman-turned-mermaid and a modern-day Caribbean fisherman. But it is a much larger story too—about colonial history and its social and economic legacies; interactions and relationships that cross racial, ethnic, cultural, and class lines; and notions of womanhood, sisterhood, and the ways women fight against gender norms and expectations and manage to thrive despite a culture of misogyny.
S2. E5 THE SEEP: What it means to be human
As we’re trying to see our way out of the pandemic, The Seep proves a timely read. It’s a story about social transformation brought about by an alien entity The Seep, which seeks to ameliorate human suffering—poverty; sexual & gender as well as racial and ethnic discrimination; death—in exchange for information about what makes humans “human.” Which begs the question, if our struggles & complexities are eliminated in a utopia, can we still call ourselves human?
S2.E4 THE SON OF GOOD FORTUNE / POTIKI: Fighting for Home
In time for Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in the US and the launch of a campaign to establish East and South East Asian (ESEA) Heritage Month in the UK, hosts Tamara Crawford and Vina Orden discuss Pilipino American writer Lysley Tenorio's novel The Son of Good Fortune and Māori writer Patricia Grace's reissued classic Potiki. Both Tenorio and Grace write against invisibility, having been raised on the Western canon but never encountering stories or characters that resembled their own experiences and cultures. Potiki, a story about the Māori community protecting its land against developers attempting to seize it, and The Son of Good Fortune about a young Filipino who discovers he’s undocumented, both challenge dominant notions about who gets rights to land and human dignity—issues very much in the forefront of public discourse today.
S2. E3 NIGHT SKY WITH EXIT WOUNDS / THE TRADITION: American Beauty | American Violence
Both with National Poetry Month around the corner, and with the anti-Black & anti-Asian violence going on in the US, it is timely that The Lift Up had chosen these two poetry collections to discuss: Ocean Vuong‘s Night Sky With Exit Wounds, and Jericho Brown‘s The Tradition. Both poets explore the concurring states of beauty and violence in their own unique experience of America and the body in relation to place, personal and collective histories, and being in the moment.