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Tayari Jones: An American Marriage



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‘I know you’re innocent, there is not one doubt in my mind, but I also know that you’re not here.’

How much disruption can love endure?

With her latest novel, An American Marriage, Tayari Jones immerses readers in the inner worlds of Celestial and Roy – an ambitious newlywed African American couple on the brink of a promising future together. Suddenly, one year into their marriage, Roy is convicted of a crime they both know he didn’t commit.

Roy’s incarceration sets the scene for a complex, heartbreaking love story that navigates fidelity, obligation and the weight of the past. Told in part through an incisively crafted series of prison letters, the book brings broad social ideas – the American Dream, the New South, the racism of the judicial system and the prison industrial complex – into an intimate negotiation of desires and disappointments.

Alongside her latest Oprah-approved novel, Jones has written three previous works of fiction – Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, and Silver Sparrow – all set in her hometown of Atlanta. She visits the Wheeler Centre this May to discuss her writing – and how we grapple with the intrusions of chance, timing and history into our lives.

Paperback Books will be our bookseller at this event.


Tayari Jones

Tayari Jones is the author of four novels, including Silver Sparrow, The Untelling, and Leaving Atlanta. Jones holds degrees from Spelman College, Arizona State University, and the University of Iowa. She serves on the MFA faculty at Rutgers and blogs on writing at She l... Read more

Bhakthi Puvanenthiran

Bhakthi Puvanenthiran is a writer and editor. She is currently Editor of ABC Everyday, which covers family, money, sex and relationships, culture, food and much more. Bhakthi has previously worked as managing editor of Crikey, deputy arts editor at The Age and small business editor at The Age and th... Read more


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Acknowledgment of Country

The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.