Describe your latest project.
Pig Candy is a hybrid of biography/memoir that has as its central themes life, death, and barbecue. Originally, I set out to see my father through a clear lens, to see him as a man apart from just being my parent, to see him in a larger context (American history writ small), and so I enlisted all of my experience as a journalist as I approached the subject of him and his past. I wanted to know why he'd been such a wanderer in his youth, what it meant to have worked in industries that have long since disappeared, and why his 50 years in Philadelphia had created none of the attachment he still felt for his rural hometown in Georgia, a place that had been so incessantly oppressive for him as a black child in the '20s and '30s.
Four years into this seven-year undertaking, my father's doctor handed him a death sentence — aggressively metastasized prostate cancer. And so while the core themes of the book endured, a final theme was added on: what does it look like to watch one's parent live