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The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother
Synopses & Reviews
This beautifully written New York Times bestseller has become a new American classic.
As a boy in Brooklyn’s Red Hook projects, James McBride knew his mother was different. But when he asked about it, she’d simply say, “I’m light-skinned.” Later he wondered if he was different too, and asked his mother if he was black or white. “You’re a human being,” she snapped. “Educate yourself or you’ll be a nobody!” And when James asked what color God was, she said, “God is the color of water.”
As an adult, McBride finally persuaded his mother to tell her story—the story of a rabbi’s daughter, born in Poland and raised in the South, who fled to Harlem after encountering anti-Semitism in her small town. Upon marrying a black man, her family promptly disowned her, causing her to launch a second existence as (to quote her son) "a flying compilation of competing interests and conflicts, a black woman in white skin." The Color of Water is a poignant exploration of race, family, and identity, juxtaposing the author’s experiences with his mother’s stories.
About the Author
James McBride is an author, musician and screenwriter. His landmark memoir, The Color of Water, is considered an American classic. His debut novel Miracle at St. Anna was translated into a film directed by icon Spike Lee. He has also written for the Boston Globe, People, Washington Post, Essence, Rolling Stone, National Geographic, and the New York Times. James plays saxophone and tours with his six piece jazz/r&b band. He received the Stephen Sondheim Award and the Richard Rodgers Foundation Horizon Award for his musical "Bo-Bos" co-written with playwright Ed Shockley. A native New Yorker, he studied composition at The Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio and received his Masters in Journalism from Columbia University in New York at age 22. He holds several honorary doctorates and is currently a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University. He is married with three children.
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